Scen.: Djalmar Christofersen. F.: J. Julius [Julius Jaenzon]. Scgf.: Axel Esbensen. Int.: Jenny Hasselquist (Anjuta Jankin, la ballerina), Lars Hanson (Wolo Czawienko, il violinista), Richard Lund (il conte Orsky). Prod.: AB Svenska Biografteatern. 35mm e DCP. L.: 372 m. D.: 19’ a 17 f/s (35mm) e 10’ (DCP). Col.
Balettprimadonnan is one of several early films by director Mauritz Stiller which have been unearthed in recent years to give us a more complete picture of the filmmaker’s œuvre. As in the 1915 Hämnaren and Madame de Thèbes (both screened at previous editions of Cinema Ritrovato), different strata of society is depicted, where the protagonists move or are taken away from their origins. This recurrent motif may reflect the director’s own feelings of alienation and non-belonging. In this silent film about dance and music (in Gunnar Hedes saga (1923) Stiller would again make a silent film where music plays a central role), a violinist of poor origins convinces the mother of a farming girl to let her make an audition for the ballet academy. The girl is played by Jenny Hasselquist, making her screen debut in Balettprimadonnan. Hasselquist was at the time engaged as a prima ballerina at the Royal Opera in Stockholm, and her main career would continue to be dance, and she only made a handful more appearances in film, most notably in Stiller’s Johan (1921) and Sjöström’s Vem dömer (1922). Lars Hanson, playing the violinist, was also a newcomer to cinema, making only his second film, but he would of course have a very long and successful career in film, which included a spell in Hollywood in the late 1920’s. A previous reconstruction of the film was carried out in the mid-1990’s, after a fragment of a nitrate print had been discovered in Zaragoza, Spain. Copyright frames and production stills were added to the fragment, along with explanatory titles and invented intertitles, to make the film more comprehensible. In 2015 Filmoteca Española announced that another, longer fragment of the film had been deposited to their collections. This fragment comes from the same Spanish original release print of the film as the previous fragment, though in a further state of decomposition. The two elements now make up more than half of the film’s original length, and once the reconstruction is finished, these two elements will be matched, all the film’s inter-titles will be recreated according to the original font and design, and missing footage will be covered by stills and explanatory titles.