Sog.: based on third chapter (Mondo vecchio sempre nuovo) of the novel of the same name (1938-1940) by Riccardo Bacchelli. Scen.: Federico Fellini, Tullio Pinelli, dalla riduzione di Riccardo Bacchelli, Mario Bonfantini, Luigi Comencini, Alberto Lattuada, Carlo Musso, Sergio Romano. F.: Aldo Tonti. M.: Mario Bonotti. Mus.: Ildebrando Pizzetti. Scgf.: Aldo Buzzi, Luigi Gervasi. Int.: Carla Del Poggio (Berta Scacerni), Jacques Sernas (Orbino Verginesi), Giulio Calì (Smarazzacucco), Anna Carena (Argìa), Giacomo Giuradei (Princivalle Scacerni), Mario Besesti (Clapassòn), Leda Gloria (Sniza), Nino Pavese (Raibolini), Isabella Riva (Cecilia Scacerni), Dina Sassoli (Susanna Verginesi). Prod.: Lux Film. DCP. Bn.
Lattuada chooses to focus on the episode relating the obstructed love between Berta Scacerni and Orbino Verginesi, which takes up a good part of Mondo vecchio sempre nuovo, the third and final part of Bacchelli’s epic novel Il mulino del Po. In this way, he underscores his aim: to combine historical and social fresco with passionate melodrama. To do so, he eliminates the fatalistic undercurrent which Bacchelli had adapted from Manzoni and instead emphasises an interpretation in terms of the beginnings of the industrialisation of the countryside (with the conflict between the modernity of the threshing machines and peasant traditions) and the awakening of class conflict (with the creation of the socialist associations). But he alternates this with a description of the world of his protagonists, the Scacerni millers and the peasant Verginesi, underlining the qualities and defects of each: their dedication to work and their greed; and their sense of family and their pride. In this way the film is able to bestow an epic form on certain characters: the stubborn determination of Berta’s mother, Cecilia, and the irresponsible impetuosity of her son, Princivalle. To others, he gives a novelistic dimension: Berta and Orbino, tormented by love, and the folkoristic Smarazzacucco and Scantafrasca, who strengthen and spice up the progression of the story and its historical ambitions. Neither of these elements overpowers the other. The skilful mise-en-cadre and framing, which at the time was accused of calligrafismo (formalism) and seen as a defect, can now be read as an attempt to balance the historical fresco with the melodrama and to highlight the physicality of both bodies and landscapes (in the extraordinary sequences in the wheat fields where the women on strike clash with the soldiers sent to mow them). Thus the story acquires “a moral and epic significance which makes Il mulino del Po one of the high points of Lattuada’s cinema”.
Courtesy of Cristaldi Film
Restored in 4K in 2021 by Cineteca di Bologna in collaboration with Cristaldi Film, with funding provided by Ministero della Cultura, at L’Immagine Ritrovata laboratory, from the original nitrate negative, a first generation lavander and the original sound negative