Jolly Cinema > 16:30


Mario Soldati


Sunday 26/06/2016


Original version with subtitles


Film Notes

Following Camerini’s Una romantica avventura, Piccolo mondo antico was the film that launched the series of 19th century literary adaptations, in which Alberto Lattuada and Renato Castellani would also make their debuts. The film was a clandestine form of opposition to Fascism, and the members of the troupe, from Soldati on down, were watched by the police who feared that they would take advantage of shooting on Lake Lugano to escape to Switzerland. At the height of the Rome-Berlin axis, Soldati provocatively chose to narrate the anti- Austrian struggle; he also peppered the film with the melodious Lombard dialect, in opposition to the regime’s cultural policy.
In order to adapt Antonio Fogazzaro’s Risorgimento-era novel, the director made use of his knowledge of 19th century Italian painting and displayed an extraordinary vocation as a landscape artist. As Giuseppe De Santis, at the time still a young critic, wrote: “For the first time our cinema offers a landscape that is not rarefied or tackily pictorial, but actually responds to the characters’ humanity, both as an emotional element and as an indicator of their sentiments”. Yet the film transcends pictorialism and landscapes. The dynamic force of its best sequences (the death of Ombretta, Franco’s dawn departure) lies elsewhere: in an emotional and moral intensity incarnated by the female protagonist. The film, which was a great success, launched Alida Valli as a dramatic actress, making her the most potent filmic image of 19th century Italy – a strong and tenacious woman with a strong sense of ethics and a hint of Jansenism. Finally, as is often the case with Soldati, the film acquires added colour thanks to its unforgettable character actors: the deceitful mother Ada Dondini, Enzo Biliotti, Giacinto Molteni and Renato Cialente. The strength of the film comes from a gaze that almost seems to diverge from the narration, concentrating on details of place and on minor characters, before coming to life thanks to the female protagonist.

Cast and Credits

Sog.: dal romanzo omonimo di Antonio Fogazzaro. Scen.: Mario Bonfantini, Emilio Cecchi, Alberto Lattuada, Mario Soldati. Scgf.: Gastone Medin. Mus.: Enzo Masetti. Int.: Alida Valli (Luisa), Massimo Serato (Franco), Ada Dondini (marchesa), Annibale Betrone (zio Piero), Mariù Pascoli (Ombretta), Giacinto Molteni (Gilardoni), Elvira Bonecchi (Barborin), Enzo Biliotti (Pasotti), Renato Cialente (cav. Greisberg), Adele Garavaglia (mamma Teresa), Mario Soldati (soldato austriaco). Prod.: A.T.A.- I.C.I.. 35mm. D.: 107’. Bn.