Luigi Comencini

Sog.: dal romanzo omonimo (1880) di Johanna Spyri. Scen.: Richard Schweizer, William Michael Treichlinger, Luigi Comencini. F.: Emil Berna, Peter Frischknecht. M.: Hermann Haller. Scgf.: Werner Schlichting. Mus.: Robert Blum. Int.: Elsbeth Sigmund (Heidi), Heinrich Gretler (nonno), Thomas Klameth (Peter), Elsie Attenhofer (zia Dete), Isa Günther (Klara Sesemann), Willy Birgel (signor Sesemann), Anita Mey (signorina Rottenmeyer), Theo Lingen (Sebastiano), Lore Reutemann (Tinette), Traute Carlsen (nonna), Carl Wery (dottor Classen). Prod.: Peter Riethof, Lazar Wechsler per Praesens-Film. 35mm. D.: 102’. Bn. 

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

After his plans for a film about two children who travel to New York – a story which he really cared for – finally fell apart, Comencini made Heidi, based on Johanna Spyri’s celebrated novel, in Switzerland…
The film, featuring exceptional cinematography by Emil Berna, was shot among the magnificent landscapes of the Grisons. It tells the story of three children: Heidi, eight years old, the goatherd-boy Peter, and Klara, a disabled child who lives in Frankfurt. Heidi, who has been raised by her grandfather, is sent to live with a German family to ensure that she receives a decent education… Up until this point, she had grown up in the mountains as little more than a wild child. She is thus the precursor of a long line of children in Comencini’s films who exude independence and act freely, unconstrained by the conditioning of adulthood. In her adoptive family, Heidi is “domesticated”, learns to read and becomes a well-mannered little girl but, underneath it all, remains a rebel: a bout of sleepwalking reveals her urge to return to the mountains she came from. Before leaving for the holidays, she pauses in the doorway of the big city house and lets out a scream like the ones she used to when she was in midst of nature; in so doing, she affirms her deep ties to her rural origins, despite the fact that she has become a “model child”, a civilized citizen. On being exposed to the freshness of this little mountain girl, Klara becomes livelier and more energetic every day until eventually she gets out of her wheelchair and walks. The sense of rebirth is underlined by the fact that her recovery occurs during the visit to a stable in which a mare is giving birth to a foal…
Heidi is a far from insignificant instance of an evolving oeuvre that places children firmly at the centre of the story – children who are capable of expressing a sense of wonder and spontaneity in    a society, that of the early 20th century, constrained by the formalities of good manners and bourgeois respectability.

Jean A. Gili, Luigi Comencini, Gremese, Roma 2005

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courtesy of Praesens-Film and SRF