Sog., Scen.: Carlo Campogalliani, Carlo Pollone; F.: Fortunato Spinolo; Int.: Bartolomeo Pagano (Maciste), Letizia Quaranta (principessa Maria Laetitia), Carlo Campogalliani (Tito Fabrizi), Vittorio Rossi-Pianelli (il principe Luitpoldo), Pierre Lepetit (Cioccolatino), P. Berton (il precettore Dupuis), Ria Bruna (la contessa Henriette), Felice Minotti (il complice del primo ministro); Prod.: Itala-UCI. Ep. 1 – Maciste contro la morte; Pri. pro.: 8 novembre 1920; L. or.: 1549 m L: ca. 618 m D: ca. 30’ a 18 f/s. Ep. 2 Il viaggio di Maciste; Pri. pro.: 16 novembre 1920; L. or.: 1798; L.: ca. 1130 m; D: ca. 55’ a 18 f/s.; Ep. 3 – Il testamento di Maciste; Pri. pro.: 22 novembre 1920; L. or.: 1724 m; L.: ca. 988 m; D: ca. 48’ a 18 f/s. 35mm, Col.
In the course of his long and distinguished career, Maciste flirted with a high number of genres, different backgrounds and narrative styles. The serial continuity is always guaranteed by the presence, the features and the functions of the principal character, according to a logic of variations on the theme. In the Maciste Trilogy, however, a stronger model of seriality is experimented, one which anticipates narrative continuity between the parts, resorting to the suspense of the action at the end of each episode. The film might be considered a somewhat isolated experiment, in “normalising” the character, reverting his adventures to the most classic topoi of action films then in style: the chases, the traps, the kidnappings follow one another on a principle of accumulation: the characters literally take on the profiles of the dramatis personae of the fable, including the princess in peril: to stay ahead of his enemies Maciste elaborates complex discoveries that owe more to cinegenia than to rationality. To paraphrase a commentator “As long as there is movement, what do logic and good sense matter?” In this context the film finds its happiest moments in outdoor scenes in which the realism of the locations affords new blood to the conventions of the genre. When Pagano lingers in the port between the jetties and crates waiting for the cargo, the joy of the one-time Genoan stevedore in finding himself in once familiar places is evidently authentic and contagious. Carlo Campogalliani, in the dual role of actor and director, is a troublesome straight man, often employed to steal the scene from the ‘appointed star’. The princess is a gracious Ria Bruna, consoling the hero with her languors, stille recovering from the previous year’s sentimental disappointment in Maciste innamorato. The restoration used a coloured nitrate positive preserved by the Archives Françaises du Film (Centre National de la Cinématographie) at Bois d’Arcy. This copy is a re-edited version destined to the French market, in which the three episodes have been combined into a single feature-length film of more than two hours. The restoration project, carried out by the Museo Nazionale del Cinema di Torino and Cineteca di Bologna, has restored the original division into three chapters, indicated the gaps, and reintegrating the original titles, according to the production documents preserved by the Museo Nazionale del Cinema. The restoration was carried out at the L’Immagine Ritrovata laboratory in June 2010.
Stella Dagna, Claudia Gianetto