Spectators Watching Spectators

Una tragedia al cinematografo
R: Enrico Guazzoni. D: Bruto Castellani, Ignazio Lupi, Pina Menichelli. P: Società Italiana Cines. It 1913
Dutch titles

“A Cines variation of comedies dealing with cinemas and promoting the company and its films is the short Una tragedia al cinematografo, with a then still-unknown Pina Menichelli as leading actress. A jealous man pursues his elegant wife (Menichelli) who chats with a male friend in front of the entrance of a cinema. The cinema is covered outside and inside with posters of the 1913 Cines top hit Quo vadis? by Enrico Guazzoni, a publicity stroke for the Cines company. Merry people in carnival outfits prevent the husband from seeing whether his wife has entered the cinema. Convinced that she is in there, together with her presumed lover, the husband fights his way in and threatens the manager of the cinema that he will shoot his unfaithful wife. (…) Apart from being a funny film on the cinema as locus for illicit rendez-vous, the idea of spectators watching a film in which they see other spectators watching a film creates a sort of Chinese-box effect, used elsewhere in Italian cinema, as in Al cinematografo, guardate – ma non toccate (Itala, 1912) and Maciste (Itala, 1915) by Giovanni Pastrone, thereby increasing the sensation of cinematographic voyeurism. This is even more emphatic in Una tragedia al cinematografo.”
Ivo Blom: All the Same or Strategies of Difference. Early Italian Comedy in International Perspective, in: Anna Antonini, ed., Il film e i suoi multipli/Film and Its Multiples, Udine: Forum 2003

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