Lyda Borelli, la diva amata (I)

Ma l’amor mio non muore (1)
R: Mario Caserini. B: Emiliano Bonetti, G. Monleone. K: Angelo Scalenghe. D: Lyda Borelli, Mario Bonnard, Gian Paolo Rosmino, Vittorio Rossi Pianelli, Dante Cappelli, Maria Caserini. P: Film Artistica Gloria. It 1913
Print: Cineteca Italiana di Milano

“Elsa Holbein is the young beautiful daughter of General Julius, the Chief of the General Staff. After a spy named Moise Sthar steals military documents, Julius is accused of betrayal. He kills himself while Elsa is forced to leave. Homeless, she begins wandering the streets until, on the Riviera, she starts her performing career under the pseudonym of Diana Cadouleur and becomes a successful actress and singer. One day, in a small church, she meets an elegant young man and she falls in love with him. But during a tour on the Locarno Lake she runs into Sthar who, rejected by Elena (i.e. Elsa), spreads rumors about Prince Massimiliano’s behavior.”

Ma l’amor mio non muore (2)

“In 1913, Lyda Borelli had reached the apex of her theatrical career. Performing in Italy’s most famous theatres, she appeared in plays by Victorien Sardou, Henry Bataille, Georges Ohnet, the very repertory that would soon become the backbone of diva cinema. Borelli’s most acclaimed performance was in Oscar Wilde‘s Salome, which had its Italian premiere at the Teatro Valle on 10 March 1909. In her Salome costume, Borelli was portrayed by painter Cesare Tallone and in a photographic series by Emilio Sommariva: popularized by postcards, these representations of Borelli’s theatrical career fueled the public imagination and showed decisive for the construction of her iconic image in her first feature, Ma l’amor mio non muore.”
Ivo Blom

Ma l’amor mio non muore (3)

“This all takes place over the first couple of acts of the film, which are relatively slow – this section is generally told in lengthy shots where the action is staged in deep space. It’s skilfully done, and the sets are lovely, but on the whole the setup drags a bit. This part of the story is drawn out more than necessary, in my opinion, but the filmmakers also make a more serious error: filling the screen with a large amount of actors who are not Lyda Borelli. Luckily, the filmmakers seem to have realized this, and the camera thereafter consistently finds its rightful view: the dramatic grace of la divina Lyda.”
Silents, Please!

“In the WWI era – the heyday of the Italian film diva – Lyda Borelli, Pina Menichelli, and Francesca Bertini were the most famous Italian actresses to grace the screen: all beautiful and talented, each bringing something different to the cinema. Although not the first of the three women to enter films, Lyda Borelli is generally considered to be the first film diva, and continues to be marketed as such (e.g., ‘Lyda prima diva!’ by the Cineteca di Bologna). Borelli was a well-established stage actress who launched her film career in 1913 with Ma l’amor mio non muore! (Love Everlasting, lit. But my love will never die!) Being of the stage, Borelli’s cinematic acting was very influenced by theatrical conventions: she acts with a unique, flowing, decadent style which delighted her many fans and gave rise to the verb borelleggiare, i.e. “to Borelli-ize” or imitate Borelli — the 1917 edition of the ‘Dizionario Moderno’ explains the term as ‘Young women fussing and moping around, in the manner of the beautiful Lyda Borelli’s gratuitous and aestheticizing poses’. Characterized by poses and dancelike movements based on painterly figures, it is an acting style that is out of fashion now, but breathtaking, and much appreciated in her time.”
Silents, Please!

>>> Lyda Borelli, la diva amata (II)

>>> Lyda Borelli; Rapsodia satanica