T. Ted.: Ein Ritt Durch Chaco, Sudamerika; Prod.: S.A. Ambrosio; 35mm. L.: 95 M. D.: 5' A 16 F/S. Bn.
“It proved to be a truly exceptional competitor for France, which at the time held almost complete monopoly over the industry it had created.” (“Ciné-Journal”, 1911) The respect with which Victorin Jasset speaks of the sudden arrival of Italian cinema on the international market is completely justified: the major Italian cinema production companies challenged their most famous French rivals without hesitation from their early years on. The Italian production panorama in 1907 saw the birth of new companies (including Società F.lli Pineschi, Aquila Films, Carlo Rossi & C.), which were side by side with Cines and Ambrosio in their aggressive exportation strategies. It was an unbalanced battle in which Italian production companies were up against not only the colossals Star, Gaumont and the omnipotent Pathé, but also new companies like Eclipse, Lux and Eclair, which debuted in 1906 and 1907 and like their Italian competitors, immediately aimed at an international market.
In this battle the Italian companies left behind any patriotic qualms and, according to their capabilities, tried to conform to the French model that had been so successful. They began to imitate their neighbours beyond the Alps (...especially Pathé) in their choice of subjects, their mode of filmmaking, and in their sales strategies. The competition was increased by Italian production companies’ direct interference with the French production scene: “We are proud to inform our clients that we have entrusted the artistic direction of our studio to Mr. Gaston Velle, formerly of the Cinematografie Pathé Frères of Paris.” With these words Adolfo Pouchain, managing director of Cines, inaugurated what would become a popular trend in the following years. In 1907 other Italian producers, aware of the professional superiority of their French colleagues and heedless of the reaction of the powerful production company Vincennes, continued their aggressive hiring campaign: Carlo Rossi & C. brought Charles Lepine (and with him the cameramen Raul Compte and Georges Caillaud) to Turin, snatching them away from Pathé, Ambrosio hired the two prestigious technicians Eugène Planchat and Ernesto Zolligher, both important figures at Pathé Frères. In 1907, in that same vein of acquiring skills from France, Cines further increased its industrial potential by ensuring the technology for the production of raw film from the Societé Anonyme des Celluloses Planchon. This process of imitation/appropriation would prove fruitful, especially in France itself: one third of the 115 films produced in Italy in 1907 was distributed abroad and at least half of these were screened in French cinemas. As Jasset says: “For us [the French] Italy became one of our most feared competitore”. The unexpected growth of Italian cinema would soon prove structurally limited and lacking in organization, but in 1907 its ascent seemed constant and unstoppable. The goal was in sight - conquering the world markets under the motto “Long live Italy” - or better - “Vive l’Italie!”.