Cinema Lumiere - Sala Officinema/Mastroianni > 10:15


Evgenij Bauer
Piano accompaniment by

Gabriel Thibaudeau and John Sweeney


Wednesday 29/06/2016


Original version with simultaneous translation through headphones


Film Notes

Žizn’ za žizn’ was conceived as an ‘artistic’ film able to compete with foreign box office hits and as an answer to Ermol’ev’s Pikovaja Dama. Of the scripts offered to him, Evgenij Bauer, the leading director at Chanžonkov’s company, chose an adaptation of Georges Ohnet’s novel. Musja and Nata, daughter and stepdaughter of the loving millionaire Mrs. Chromova, both fall in love with an irresponsible prince and seducer. Musja marries the prince and is forced to witness his betrayals and extravagances. It will be her mother who avenges her tears.
All the resources of the Chanžonkov studios were poured into the film: the cast was made up of the best actors around and Boris Zavelev was one of the leading directors of photography of pre-revolutionary cinema. The time available was catastrophically limited for such a grand production: the producer wanted it to be released before the end of the film season. As Bauer’s colleagues recall, however, the director loved working with tight schedules and under creative tension. Filming even ended before the deadline. The movie was met with a stream of positive reviews. Such commercial hits usually showed rich and varied tinting and toning, but in the surviving fragments none of that is evident. For Bauer the visual component was more important than the work of the actors and dramatic construction, and the absence of tinting and toning in the existing print is significant.
Contemporaries appreciated lead Vitol’d Polonskij’s elegance, Ivan Perestiani’s efficacy, Ol’ga Rachmanova’s intensity, Moscow Art Theatre actress Lidija Koreneva’s performance, and the perfect harmony between the ‘queen of the big screen’, Vera Cholodnaja, and the film set. Cholodnaja’s slow, lethargic movements with her almost frozen gestures, transforming her into a luxurious piece of furniture or into an icy stone sculpture, fit perfectly with Bauer’s artistic intent. Bauer was especially interested in the spatial complexity of shots enhanced by a photography that truly embodies the etymological meaning of ‘writing in light’. Light fills the frames, it lurks everywhere and draws the gaze of the camera, which was mostly static until suddenly forced to move forward and back in the scene of the double wedding.

Alisa Nasrtdinova

Cast and Credits

T. alt.: Za každuju slezu po kaple krovi / Sestry-sopernicy. Sog.: dal romanzo Serge Panine di Georges Ohnet. Scen.: Evgenij Bauer. F.: Boris Zavelev. Int.: Ol’ga Rachmanova (signora Chromova), Lidija Koreneva (Musja), Vera Cholodnaja (Nata), Vitol’d Polonskij (principe Vladimir Bartinskij), Ivan Perestiani (Žurov). Prod.: Aleksandr Chanžonkov. 35mm. L.: 1238 m. D.: 67’ a 16 f/s. Bn. Tinted extracts. DCP. D.: 7’. Col.


Film Notes

The tragedy of the house of di Sangro, an aristocratic family fallen on hard times, takes place in Abruzzo in the first half of the nineteenth century inside a once splendid castle now “crumbling, threadbare, eroded, cracked, covered in dust, doomed to perish”. The film adaptation is faithful to the text but tells the story in a linear succession making – even in this only surviving incomplete copy without intertitles – a fluid narrative, despite D’Annunzio’s solemn writing style. Gigliola and her younger brother, on whose shoulders the fate of the family lies, are bound by a deep tenderness. Their mother lives in the shadows, while their father Tibaldo lusts after the attractive maid Angizia, competing for favors with his half-brother Bertrando. The young ‘Luco woman’ – a vulgar, overbearing and seductive Makowska – is skilled in preparing poisons and bewitching men. She kills the wife of Tibaldo in order to take her place, worsens the health of Simonetto, forcibly drives out her father the snake charmer and does not deny herself any vice. In a Gothic atmosphere, the characters move around despondently, and when Angizia’s crimes are finally discovered, the castle seems to crumble and the Sangro home is swallowed up into a chasm. Gigliola, having the proof she needs, plans to poison herself, leaving her time to kill her stepmother, but Tibaldo stops her. Gigliola, bitten by deadly snakes and in despair for not having taken her revenge, goes to die on her mother’s grave: “Put out the torches, turn them over, put them out in the grass, o men. Shake mine in my fist I could not. It was all in vain”.

Claudia Gianetto

Cast and Credits

Sog.: dalla tragedia omonima in versi (1905) di Gabriele D’Annunzio. Scen.: Eleuterio Rodolfi. Int.: Elena Makowska (Angizia), Umberto Mozzato (Tibaldo di Sangro), Linda Pini (la prima moglie), Anna De Marco (Gigliola), Empedocle Zambuto (Bertrando, il fratellastro), Mary Cléo Tarlarini (la madre), Filippo Butera (il serparo), Ersilia Scalpellini (una nutrice), Umberto Scalpellini (capo dei manovali). Produzione: S. A. Ambrosio, Torino. DCP. D.: 30’. Tinted and toned.