Sog.: dal romanzo omonimo (1875) di Salvatore Farina. Prod.: Costantini. DCP. Col. (da nitrato imbibito e virato).

T. it.: Italian title. T. int.: International title. T. alt.: Alternative title. Sog.: Story. Scen.: Screenplay. F.: Cinematography. M.: Editing. Scgf.: Set Design. Mus.: Music. Int.: Cast. Prod.: Production Company. L.: Length. D.: Running Time. f/s: Frames per second. Bn.: Black e White. Col.: Color. Da: Print source

Film Notes

The only copy of this film that has survived belongs to the Cineteca dello Stretto, a new film archive located in the heart of the island of Ortygia in Syracuse. Cineteca dello Stretto came into being following an encounter between a group of young professionals in the sector and a forward-thinking entrepreneur who is passionate about cinema, art and Sicily in general. The film archive oversees an important collection of hundreds of films of various genres and formats still to be discovered. With kilometres of cellulose, there is no shortage of hidden treasures: along with Capelli biondi is L’occhio di Shivah from 1928, an unedited 9.5mm film negative that was restored in collaboration with the Museo Nazionale del Cinema di Torino.
Here is an Italian silent feature film wrapped in mystery. It is unclear if the production company (Costantini) released other films for the screen, the director is unknown and the actors yet to be identified. “Completely ignored by advertising and reviewers,” writes Vittorio Martinelli in the volume of Il cinema muto italiano dedicated to 1919.
We do know where the film’s subject comes from: a novel by Salvatore Farina published in 1875. Today, both the novel and its author have mostly been forgotten, but in the decade between 1870 and 1880, Farina was, as Gaetano Mariani assures us in his Storia della Scapigliatura, “one of the most notable literary happenings of the decade”. In the Dizionario biografico degli italiani, Lucia Strappini summarises the basic tenets of Farina’s prolific literary production: mostly petit bourgeois settings (with some forays into high society), “gracefully depicted sentimental and passionate stories”, “a pervasive, calm sense of humour combined with a mild hint of pathos”, the family as a fundamental moral concept.
Missing from this list is an element that is hard to ignore in the film: a razor-sharp note of fetishism. The tortured love of the count (who does not mind a brothel) for a sweet girl from the slums takes the form of a blonde braid kept in a safe and taken out from time to time for venting a repressed desire. The sculptural quality of the shots, the flair for playing with chiaroscuro, the constant creation of frames around the characters all demonstrate a compositional perspective that invites us to dig deeper in the hope of finding other pieces that make the mystery less impenetrable.

Andrea Meneghelli and Maurilio Forestieri

Copy From

Restored in 2023 by Cineteca di Bologna in collaboration with Cineteca dello Stretto at L’Immagine Ritrovata laboratory, from a positive tinted and toned nitrate print preserved at Cineteca dello Stretto