Teatro Comunale di Bologna > 10:30


Ferdinand Guillaume (Polidor)
Piano accompaniment by

Antonio Coppola


Sunday 30/08/2020


Original version with subtitles


Film Notes

Of the many Italian women who performed athletic roles on film, perhaps the most prominent is the mysterious Astrea. The magazine “Al cinema” stated that Astrea was the nome d’arte of Countess Barbieri, a Venetian aristocrat who came to “l’arte muta” out of passion. However, no further personal details are known about her. A woman of considerable stature and strength, Astrea was promoted as the “female Maciste”, playing roles that emphasised her physical power as well as her beauty and elegance. Her films, four in all, caught the public’s attention, and helped broaden ideas of what womanhood might be: physically strong, self-sufficient, powerful. Like Maciste, she is unbound and unromantic, at most sustaining the loves and marriages of others. It was Astrea’s second film Justitia that made her name. Astrea plays an adventurous princess who roams the world in the service of justice, supported by her humorous sidekick Birillo (Ferdinand Guillaume). She takes up the cause of two young nobles, Michele and Jole, who have been dispossessed by the unscrupulous baron Max. With her bare fists, she eliminates six shifty circus people sent by Max. “Remarkable stunts, of which a professional strong-woman of Houdini- like prowess is the protagonist, are the outstanding feature of this unusual and entertaining thrill-film, whilst the amazing sensations are pleasantly relieved by a vein of irresistible comedy (“The Bioscope”, 1 April 1920).

Ivo Blom

In the 1910s, Ferdinand Guillaume (alias Tontolini alias Polidor), one of the great comic actors of film history, made more than a 100 short comic films, to global acclaim. The series of three feature films starring Astrea and Birillo that he wrote, directed, co-starred and produced – Justitia, L’ultima fiaba (1919-1920) and the presumably lost I creatori dell’impossibile (1922) – were his swansong to silent cinema. Last year we postponed the screening of Justitia in the Hundred Years Ago strand, planning to screen both Astrea features by Guillaume in 2020. This year we decided to show only the better of the two films. (L’ultima fiaba has been screened at the 2010 edition of Il Cinema Ritrovato and is accessible at CNC – Centre national du cinéma et de l’image animée).

Mariann Lewinsky

Cast and Credits

F.: Guido Serra. Int.: Astrea (Justitia), Ferdinand Guillaume (Birillo), Nello Carotenuto, Francesco Ciancamerla, Maud Guillaume, Natalino Guillaume. Prod.: Polidor Film. DCP. Col. (da una copia nitrato imbibita e virata).

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