Sog.: George Ruby; F.: Giuseppe Filippa; Scgf.: Alfredo Manzi; Int.: Francesca Bertini (Bianca Fanelli), Livio Pavanelli (il Duca), Guido Trento (ing. Ottavio Fortis), Camillo De Riso (il prevosto), Alberto Albertini, Luigi Cigoli, Franco Gennaro; Prod.: Bertini/Caesar; 35mm. L.: 1277 m. D.: 54’ a 22 f/s.
The entire series of I sette peccati capitali was distributed in Czechoslovakia in the early twenties, and judging from articles from that time, it was quite successful. Two versions existed: one with Czech intertitles, and the other with German intertitles destined for regions with linguistic minorities. In the forties, the Prague archive obtained both versions from a private collector: 14 nitrate copies richly colored with tinting and toning. The copies clearly come from the same negative. After careful analysis, the copies with the Czech intertitles were chosen as the basis for restoration, while parts of the other copies were inserted when they showed less damage or when they filled gaps in the Czech version. The first film in the series, L’orgoglio, also underwent a second phase of restoration: a third copy was found in good condition; it was 1086 meters long and lacked the opening credits and intertitles, but it proved important for restoration of the color in the film.
Blazena Urgosikova – NFA Praha
Francesca Bertini always had stormy relationships with her directors. Even at the time of Histoire d’un Pierrot, her fights with Negroni led the mild mannered gentleman to simply give her free reign at a certain point. In Don Pietro Caruso, completed the following year, Emilio Ghione not only took on the role of Roberto Bracco’s leading character, but he also directed the film. In his memoirs, Ghione recounts that, when Bertini saw herself wrapped throughout the entire film in the rags of poor Margherita, daughter of the loan shark, she got furious. Where had Bertini as the Maison Paquin cover girl gone? Who cared about the Bracco-style realism that good old Ghione had purposefully followed? The film absolutely could not be shown to the public. And she insisted so fiercely with Barattolo that Don Pietro Caruso never saw the light. After that it was Gustavo Serena’s turn. Good friends since the times of Film d’Arte, Serena and Bertini were also supposed to film Assunta Spina together. Serena admits, with a look leaving no room for comments, that Lady Francesca basically directed herself, intervening on the lights and the sets as well (with the good graces of Alfredo Manzi); and it was a good thing. Perhaps, without the hand of Bertini, if the film had remained entirely in the hands of Serena, it would not have become the exceptional masterpiece we can still admire today, one of the most beautiful films from the era of Italian silent film. Perhaps… Moving on, it was then Giuseppe De Liguoro’s turn, a director with whom Bertini would make five films, one after the other, two of which were based on stories written by the star herself, signed as Frank Bert. However, with the exception of Odette, the actress didn’t like De Liguoro’s work: too old style, to the point that she unkindly threw him out during the making of Fedora. Good old Serena finished the film. Relying on her position, Bertini then called theater actor Alfredo De Antoni to direct her in her next films, as she had very much admired his stage performance as Marco Gratico in La nave by D’Annunzio. De Antoni directed her successfully in Il processo Clémenceau, Frou-Frou, and Tosca. Then, as Bertini Films had just been founded under the auspices of Caesar-film, he suggested that the new production company open with seven films based on the seven capital sins. Bertini’s eyes lit up in a flash, and her enthusiasm contaminated Barattolo right away, who gave the operation the go ahead. In just a few months, seven scenarios were drafted based on some rather weak novelettes, written by popular writers of that time (Eugène Sue, Pio Vanzi, Jean Coty) which would form the fabric of the films. And let it be said up front, a glance at the reviews reveals that the films did not receive positive critiques. Audiences were not swayed, however, and continued to go see Bertini. After absorbing the blow, Bertini wisely put herself in the hands of Roberto Roberti, managing to maintain the consensus of her public, though slightly downsized, until her retirement in 1921. I sette peccati capitali, for which Italy had lost not only the copies but also any memory of them, turned up in the Prague Film Archives. Following restoration, they have been scheduled for the festival this year. Let’s take a look at them, keeping in mind though that we’re dealing with sins that have long since lapsed.