Marie Epstein, Jean Benoit-Levy

Sog.: dal racconto omonimo di Paul Morand. Scen., Dial.: Marie Epstein, Jean Benoit-Levy. F.: Léonce- Henri Burel, Henri Tiquet. Scgf.: Lucien Carré, Raymond Nègre. Mus.: Joseph- Etienne Szyfer, Claude Delvincourt. Int.: Janine Charrat (Rose Souris), Yvette Chauviré (Mademoiselle Beaupré), Mia Slavenska (Nathalie Karine), André Pernet (Méphisto), France Ellys (Madame Souris), Jean Périer (la direttrice), Mady Berry (Célestine), Pierre Duprez (maître de ballet). Prod.: Cinatlantica Films. 35mm. D.: 96’. 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

Fiction film means drama, plot, emotions. Most of the time we see business as usual in cinema fiction, boy meets girl, good fights evil, danger looms, happy ending smiles. Nothing unusual about the plot development and its visual treatment in La Mort du cygne – it’s another variation on danger building up, catastrophe and smiling denouement. But there are not many films with such a figure at the center and such a range of emotions. A girl, 12 years old, not yet in puberty, whose strongest feelings are about her profession, dancing. The filmmakers show young Rose and what she feels life-size, they take her utterly seriously, recreating in a deeply moving way how a child lives and feels the intensity of desires and enchantments, endurance and will power, unmitigated hatred, fear, panic. Rose lives within a network of relationships among women and girls, very important human and professional ties; not love affairs and not family ties. One of the great attractions of this film lies in its documentary dimension, showing the universe of the Ballet of Paris of the 1930s from inside, sixty years before Frederick Wiseman. The cast consists of professional dancers – that is, non-professional film actresses. Yvette Chauviré, who would soon rise to become one of the greatest French ballerinas, appears in the role of Rose’s mentor, her adored ‘godmother’; the Russian ‘swan’, whom Rose destroys, is played by the Mia Slavenska (1916-2002), a charismatic performer and teacher. La Mort du cygne was choreographed by Serge Lifar (1905-1986), then maître de ballet of the Opéra de Paris; soon after the film he let Janine Charrat, here the thin Rose, dance in major roles. She was a child prodigy and choreographed her first ballet in 1941. An outstanding dancer and choreographer, she created her own company and directed the Ballet de Genève.
In honour of the very young dancers’ bee dance, Gaston Velles’ La Ruche merveilleuse, a Bee-Ballet from 1905, will be screened as the pre-programme.

Mariann Lewinsky

Copy From