Lyda Borelli, la diva amata (II)

Ma l’amor mio non muore (4)
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

“In the early Italian film industry, ‘diva’ meant female star in the ‘long’ feature film. The latter was approximately sixty minutes long, four reels, with some close-ups for the film star or diva, artificial lighting, a fairly static camera and many-layered compositions in depth. A mixture of the Catholic mater dolorosa, of the Northern European femme fatale in literature and in painting and of the new woman of modernity, the Italian diva would move from the roles of prostitute to socialite, or from rags to riches in the very same melodrama, so combining stereotypes of femininity from both the upper and lower classes.”
Angela Dalle Vacche: The Diva Film. In: Peter Bondanella: The Italian Cinema Book, 2014
Early & Silent Film

Ma l’amor mio non muore (5)

Ma l’amor mio non muore (6)

Ma l’amor mio non muore! was specifically written for Lyda Borelli, one of Italy’s leading stage actresses and featured her performing two of her most famous roles on stage: Salome and Zaza in front of an undoubtedly star-struck audience of extras. It’s one of the moments; historical film as history in itself; the actress and her effect.
As Ivo Blom notes in the booklet for the Cineteca di Bologna DVD release, it’s also a document of La Borelli finding her way with the new medium: her first time on screen, developing her film acting style and so instinctively well, even from the modern viewpoint. Next to Asta Nielsen, Borelli’s acting is amongst the most naturalistic you’ll find in 1913. Yes there are a few moments of over-wrought arms-aloft, hand-jiving but look closely and you’ll notice an incredible range of expression: fleeting moments of anger, and even disgust that wouldn’t be found on the face of many.
Borelli didn’t care about her ‘look’ so much as her expression, it seems, even though the look took care of itself… and her storytelling is in many ways well in advance of the film’s narrative.
Mario Caserini directs well with lots of similarities to contemporaries in Italy as well as elsewhere in Europe – Bauer, Christensen, Blom, Perret et al. There is, as Blom notes, less editing than in American cinema but long takes on huge sets which provide their own ‘cuts’ in the story.”
ithankyou