Sog.: dalla novella L’Espagnole di Maria Star. F.: Frank Daniau-Johnston. M.: Nini Bonnefoy. Scgf.: Musidora. Mus.: Jacques Roques. Int.: Musidora (Juana/la straniera), Antonio Cañero (Antonio de Baena), Simone Cynthia (l’amica di Juana), Paul Vermoyal (l’antiquario), Miguel Sánchez (il segretario). Prod.: Société des Films Musidora. 35mm. L.: 891 m (incompleto, l. orig.: 1325 m). D.: 43’ a 18 f/s. Imbibito.
Today, after lunch, I spoke a great deal. I spoke about Andalusia. As I can. As I love to. Like you, my love.
Musidora, letter to Antonio Cañero, October 31st, 1922
Soleil et ombre is based on a screenplay by Maria Star originally called L’Espagnole (The Spanish Woman). It was directed by Musidora in 1922, again in collaboration with Jacques Lasseyne. Despite her initial reticence, Lasseyne, with whom Musidora entered into an equivocal relationship, worked on both of her first two films, subsidising production costs. The film was considered by King Alfonso XIII himself to be “absolutely Spanish, in the very spirit of Spain”. It references the Spanish folk-culture of Romantic legend, while remaining rooted in the realities of 1920s farm life. The story focuses on a passionate love triangle between bullfighter Antonio Cañero and two women (one foreign, one native, both played by the one and only Musidora, a deliberate and confusing fantasy). The plot is tragic and cruel, steeped in the light of Castille. Musidora here affirms her manner as a filmmaker showing herself wedded to the landscapes of Spain. The film was released in July 1922 in Spain (as an element of Musidora’s live show) and in October of the same year in France, where it failed to find an audience.
Marién Gómez Rodríguez
Soleil et ombre, produced by Société des films Musidora, was released in a 1,325-metre version in 1922. Only two nitrate prints survive, both conserved at the Cinémathèque française. The most complete of the two, a black-and-white print, runs to some 825 metres. Its provenance is a Spanish release print. It includes a brief cast and credit sequence. The remaining intertitles were not cut into the positive print. A second, colour-tinted copy, catalogued as The Spanish Girl, was identified in 2017, also in the Cinémathèque collection. This seems to be an English release print (judging by the intertitles). The latter print is however incomplete. The intertitles, translated from the English version, have been translated into French and incorporated into the digitised version. Others, originating from a paper version of the screenplay, found in the Musidora Archive at the Cinémathèque, fill in gaps in the story. The screenplay in question is not a shooting script: some scenes appear modified from the two 35mm prints or omitted altogether. The 4K restoration was based on a scan of the entire Spanish black-and-white print, using the English print as a colour-tinting guideline and as a source for two missing shots. The typography of the intertitles was copied from a French nitrate release print of Pour Don Carlos.
Céline Ruivo and Rob Byrne