Teatro Comunale di Bologna > 10:30


Giulio Antamoro

Harp accompaniment by Eduardo Raon


Saturday 29/08/2020


Original version with subtitles


Film Notes

Diana Karenne, Polish by birth (or Ukrainian?), rose to being a great Italian diva almost without having to climb her way up the ladder. Her first film in a starring role brought her enormous success (Passione tsigana, 1916). Alongside being actress, she soon became a screenwriter, producer and director known for her “irascible despotism” (so claims an article of the time). Some called her the “Intellectual Diva”: she dabbled in painting, played the piano (note how she moves her hands on the keyboard in Miss Dorothy) and socialized with the Futurists. A “strange little mind, a woman of extraordinary artistic resources” enthused one critic. Whereas a colleague who couldn’t stand all the praise said: “These hypersensitive and overly intellectual women are a real human disaster”. Little remains of what seems to have been a rather varied career, which took Karenne to France and Germany in the 1920s and was eventually silenced by sound cinema. None of the movies she directed has survived. Miss Dorothy is a film about identities that are hidden, revealed, concealed and laid bare only at an enormous expense. Watching it, we can enjoy a taste of the multifaceted talent that many attributed to Karenne and that perhaps we will never be able to fully confirm. A reviewer who was feeling complimentary finds her “a little fat”, and we dare not think what she looked like when she was thinner. We first see her as a governess, stiff as a board, wearing glasses and a black dress with a high neck that seems to choke her, her hair in a chignon and a ruler in her hand that is ready to strike. Rather sexy, despite what the intertitles would have us believe, if I may say so. It’s only one of her lives: we’ll see her (in flashbacks) happy and young as a student and later in her complicated existence as an adult woman whom fate has deprived of too much. Her wide range of changing emotions spans small joys, anxiety, agony, thrills, melancholy and defiant glares: without ever becoming convoluted or relinquishing her chilly haughtiness that both disturbs us and attracts us.

Andrea Meneghelli

Cast and Credits

F.: Cesare Cavagna. Int.: Diana Karenne (Thea Nothingham, alias Dorothy Chester), Romano Calo (Giorgio e Ruggero Di Sangro), Lia Formia (Mara), Carmen Boni (Alma). Prod.: Nova Film. 35mm. L.: 1233 m (incompleto). D.: 60’ a 18 f/s. Bn. Didascalie italiane / Italian intertitles.

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