F.: Anchise Brizzi. Int.: Mercedes Brignone (contessa Anna Maria di San Giusto), Domenico Serra (Osvaldo Mars), Giovanni Cimara (il conte), François-Paul Donadio (il cameriere), Armand Pouget (l’ispettore Rull). Prod.: Rodolfi Film. 35mm. L.: 1093 m. 18 f/s. Bn.
A little girl forced to peek inside a window is shocked into silence. When she finally regains speech, she cries with horror: “So much blood!” She can have only seen one thing: Salomé. “The symbolic deity of indestructible lust, the goddess of immortal Hysteria, of accursed Beauty, distinguished from all others by the catalepsy which stiffens her flesh and hardens her muscles; the monstrous Beast, indifferent, irresponsible, insensible, baneful, like the Helen of antiquity, fatal to all who approach her, all who behold her, all whom she touches.” Thinking of Gustave Moreau, that is how Huysmans describes her, with questionable intensity. What distinguishes Salomé from other legendary diabolical females is her mastery of the veil. Mercedes Brignone, Salomé here by mistake (miscasting?), to her surprise sees herself in a painting with too much skin on display; she is hardly concealed by gauze as she moves around in places not fit for a noblewoman; she ceremoniously dons a funereal veil to face her sentence. In a reversal of the biblical figure’s reputation, she becomes the victim of a dark plot, awaiting the last veil’s removal: the one that will lay bare the truth. Like any self-respecting thriller, Il quadro di Osvaldo Mars marks its narrative with partial and reticent memories, is resplendent with luxurious contrasts, multiplies the number of intersecting trajectories with skilful editing, and slashes through certainties of surfaces and identity. It is a delightfully chaotic and intriguing film.