Sog.: dall’omonima commedia di Sandro Camasio e Nino Oxilia. Scen.: Augusto Genina. F.: Giovanni Tomatis. Int.: Maria Jacobini (Dorina), Lido Manetti (Mario), Elena Makowska (Elena), Ruggero Capodaglio (Leone), Antonio Monti (padre di Mario), Augusto Genina (uno studente). Prod.: Itala Film, Torino. 35mm. L.: 1578 m. D.: 77′ a 18 f/s. Bn.
The journey made by the film Addio giovinezza, from its departure (its first Italian release in 1918) to its return in Italy (here at Il Cinema Ritrovato in Bologna in 2014, in a digital restoration), is at once incredible and representative of the fate of so many pictures from the past. While in Europe all prints and even the camera negative of Addio giovinezza were lost, a copy found its way, most likely in the 1920s, into the collection of Tomjiro Komiya (18971975), a restaurateur in Tokyo and a great fan of European cinema from the 1910s. This unique nitrate print with the original tinting was then stolen. The thief covered his tracks by leaving behind a black and white duplicate. All of this happened around 1950 or earlier. In 1988, the Komiya Collection fell into the hands of the national Japanese archive, the National Film Center, where it became the subject of a research, identification and restoration project led by film historian Hiroshi Komatsu. Thanks to the National Film Center we have been able to show extremely rare Italian and French films from this marvelous collection at previous editions of Il Cinema Ritrovato. This year we have the great fortune of presenting the restoration of Addio giovinezza, co-produced by National Film Center, Museo Nazionale del Cinema in Torino and Fondazione Cineteca di Bologna. The only print of Addio giovinezza we were able to work with for the restoration was a second generation duplicate that lacked outstanding photographic quality, intertitles and tinting. There is no news of the missing original print, so not all hope is lost. We would like to thank our Japanese colleagues at the National Film Center, Hisashi Okajima and Akira Tochigi, and Hiroshi Komatsu of Waseda University.
Gian Luca Farinelli
Camasio and Oxilia’s comedy experienced a long season of repeat performances, and as of 1915, the musical version by Giuseppe Pietri became a beloved operetta of the Italian repertoire. As for its film adaptations, the only known surviving versions were the one directed by Genina in 1927 (with Carmen Boni and Elena Sangro) and the one directed by Poggioli in 1940 (with Maria Denis and Clara Calamai) until the discovery of this 1918 copy in Japan. The first film made from the play in 1913 for Itala Film and directed by Camasio – whose life abruptly ended prior to the film’s release – is still considered lost. The director’s unfortunate fate repeated itself with the Turin production company’s second version of the same film. Oxilia, who should have directed the film, fell during the retreat from Caporetto and was substituted by Genina. Jacobini, Oxilia’s partner in real life, accepted a role in the film – a delicate, charming and tender Dorina – flanked by Makowska, the femme fatale dressed in fabulous clothes. The story takes place in a Turin of joyful student life, the cheerful simplicity of the small world of seamstresses and the allure of high society. Against this timeless backdrop of exciting love and escape the end of university classes terminates the fleeting season of youth while the war has already impressed its deep mark in early 20th-century history. The film – received by clashing critics, loved by audiences – was a tribute to lightness and melancholy, just as Erich Maria Remarque writes: “It cannot be that it has gone, the yearning that made our blood unquiet, the unknown, the perplexing, the oncoming things, the thousand faces of the future, the melodies from dreams and from books, the whispers and divinations of women; it cannot be that this has vanished in bombardment, in despair, in brothels”.
Restored by Fondazione Cineteca di Bologna e Museo Nazionale del Cinema di Torino in collaboration with National Film Center di Tokyo. The film was restored at the laboratory L'Immagine Ritrovata using two duplicate negatives printed from the same incomplete and decayed nitrate print kept at the National Film Center. The intertitles' reconstruction is based on period documents kept at the Museo Nazionale del Cinema