I RAGGI “Z”
Sog.: da una pièce di Bonis Charance. Int.: Ercole Vaser (Monsieur Bruniquel), Gigetta Morano (Gigetta), Ersilia Scalpellini (Madame Bruniquel), Domenico Serra. Prod.: Ambrosio. 35mm. L.: 784 m (incompleto, l. orig.: 1106 m). D.: 38’ a 18 f/s. B&W print with real tinting by Jan Ledecký
Bruniquel, the king of Parisian delicatessen owners, goes to a costume party with some friends while his wife is away on a trip. Having had a little bit too much to drink, Bruniquel begins to court Gigetta. The day after he believes himself to have done the worst, and his fear turns into a nightmare when his wife hires Gigetta as a maid. A happy ending (now lost): Gigetta marries an employee of the delicatessen.
I raggi “Z” has been irresistibly charming in every stage of its gradual rediscovery. A 15-minute fragment with lovely scenes of a snowy cityscape of Turin surfaced in the early 1990 at the CNC in Paris, and was then identified as Oca alla Colbert (Eleuterio Rodolfi, 1913), because of the seamstresses masquerading as geese. After additional discoveries we could screen 30 minutes of the same French version at the Cinema Ritrovato 2009, in the section dedicated to Gigetta and Rodolfi. The storyline gave away the correct identification of I raggi “Z”, a 1917 Ambrosio production, whose director remains unknown. But would any other Italian director than Rodolfi be able to create a comedy of such elegant, warm-hearted humour and enticing brio, and set the stage so well for Gigetta’s wonderful acting?
In autumn 2018 Vladimír Opěla, the distinguished former director of the Národní filmový archiv in Prague, asked us if we were interested in restoring a recently identified Italian film from the collections of the NFA, I raggi “Z”. We were. However, while the rediscovered German language Czech distribution nitrate print is ten minutes longer – it contains the opening scene of the film and an additional 200m – the work remains vexingly incomplete. Will the missing 300m ever turn up? And will they feature the mysterious, eponymous Raggi Z?