Mario Soldati

Sog.: dal romanzo omonimo di Antonio Fogazzaro. Scen.: Mario Bonfantini, Renato Castellani, Ettore Margadonna, Tino Richelmy, Mario Soldati. F.: Massimo Terzano. Scgf.: Gastone Medin. Mus.: Giuseppe Rosati. Int.: Isa Miranda (marchesina Marina Vittoria di Malombra), Andrea Checchi (Corrado Silla), Irasema Dilian (Edith Steinegge), Gualtiero Tumiati (conte Cesare di Ormengo), Nino Crisman (conte Nepomuceno Salvador di Ormengo), Enzo Biliotti (Vezza), Ada Dondini (contessa Fosca Salvador), Giacinto Molteni (Andrea Stefano Steinegge), Corrado Racca (padre Tosi), Luigi Pavese (medico). Prod.: Lux. 35mm. D.: 135’. 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

To all appearances an ideal followup to Piccolo mondo antico, Soldati’s second Fogazzaro adaptation is in actual fact an overturning of the earlier film. It’s a film in which the natural exteriors become paradoxically claustrophobic, and in which the director’s camera for once becomes mobile and restless. As Gianni Rondolino puts it, “it’s as if in this film Soldati had given up the conductor’s baton to become a composer”. Shot during the decline of Fascism, Malombra has been seen variously as a ‘black’ twin to Ossessione, as an “involuntarily surrealist” film (Ado Kyrou) and as a procurer to Senso or to the Italian gothic horrors of the Sixties. “Malombra is perhaps the best of Soldati’s films. It is excessive even in its duration […], excessive and funereal, an immersion into the ‘fantastic’ completely anomalous to Italian cinema; all the characters follow their own personal insane loves, their own ghosts” (Emanuela Martini). Even the choice of protagonist reveals itself to be an involuntarily happy one. Again Soldati wanted to cast Valli, who would have probably made the character more human. But Isa Mirada is so stiff and distant that she makes this ghostly dance seem even more gothic, while simultaneously revealing a seductive singing talent, of which Manuel Puig wrote: “Miranda is ambiguous; she has sensitive eyes, but also a certain tension in her lips that suggests the possibility of unforeseen wickedness. […] A character played by Miranda can be permitted any surprise; if she decides to be evil, you believe it, just as you believe it if she decides to be good. In short, ambiguity comes naturally to her, and it is precisely for this reason that, when used well, she becomes so human”.

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