T. int.: Gypsies. Sog.: dal romanzo Gli zingari (1835) di Karel Hynek Mácha. Scen.: Karel Anton. F.: Karel Kopřiva. Scgf.: Bohuslav Sula. Int.: Theodor Pištěk (conte Valdemar Lomecký), Olga Augustová (Angelina), Hugo Svoboda (Giacomo), Bronislava Livia (Lea), Karel Schleichert (vecchio veterano), Karel Faltys (Napoleone). Prod.: AB 35mm. L.: 2426 m. 22 f/s. B&W print with real tinting and toning by Jan Ledecký.
The 23-year-old Karel Anton, later to become a significant figure in Czech cinema, chose a very difficult subject for his first film. Gypsies, written in 1835 by the first modern Czech poet, Karel Hynek Mácha, is a short but very complex novel: the story and the truth about the protagonists are revealed step by step, in non-linear fashion, through the recollections of different characters. Anton, who also wrote the script, retained most of Mácha’s narrative, but added two scenes: the Marquis’ saturnalian diversion, and the Napoleonic episode.
The prologue takes place in Venice, where the crew spent many days; the storyline set in Bohemia was shot in an evocative Kokořín landscape, and in authentic surroundings known to Mácha. Critics immediately recognised the film’s contribution to the art of Czech cinematography. Karel Kopřiva’s photography is quite extraordinary: already at the beginning of the 1920s, he introduced a lyrical manner derived from landscape painting to Czech cinema.
For years Cikáni was known only in a shortened version of around 1,900 metres, whereas its original length was 2,400 metres. The 2008 restauration with a total length of 2,426 metres is based on four elements: a toned-and-tinted first-generation print with Czech intertitles, the original negative with Czech and German flash titles, and two acetate prints. The new version was printed in black and white and then tinted and toned by Jan Ledecký.
Karel Anton was born in Prague in 1898, and died in Berlin in 1979. His masterpiece is Tonka Šibenice (Tonka of the Gallows, 1930), based on a novel by Egon Erwin Kisch. In the 1930s he moved to France, where he made more than 10 films, and subsequently to Germany, where he worked as producer, writer and director of films until the early 1960s.
(Giornate del cinema muto Pordenone)