Sog.: dalla pièce Ballo Excelsior di Luigi Manzotti. Mus.: Romualdo Marenco. Messa in scena: Enrico Biancifiori. Adattamento mus.: Armando Dominici. Co.: Caramba (Luigi Sapelli). Int.: Eugenia Villa (la Luce), Armando Berruccini (l’Oscurantismo), Vittorina Galimberti (prima ballerina). Prod.: Luca Comerio, Lorenzo Sonzogno. 35mm. L.: 370 m (incompleto, l. orig. 2000 m). D.: 18′ a 18 f/s. Bn e Col.
In 1913 the music publisher Lorenzo Sonzogno decided to transpose to film the famous theatrical production Ballo Excelsior, written in 1881 by Luigi Manzotti with a score by Romualdo Marenco. The play, which alternates between dance numbers and prose, is an allegorical celebration of modernity: through the development of science and technology, the human race is guaranteed a prosperous and socially progressive future. The direction of the film was entrusted to Luca Comerio, who created an updated version of the 19th century Ballo, substituting the inventions whose praises had been sung in the original, but which had by that time become obsolete, with the latest marvels of modern technology. And this is where Comerio’s genius becomes most evident: to illustrate the most prodigious and innovative technological advances, he spliced in scenes from documentaries he himself had made, seamlessly integrating them in between the choreography and dialogues. Up until recently, it was believed that the only surviving scenes from Excelsior were the dance sequences from the first and second scenes kept at Cineteca Nazionale. However, last November a reel was discovered in the archives of Cineteca di Bologna which contained not only the opening credits, but several fragments of scenes which were thought to have been lost. These fragments included some of the dal vero shots, in particular the one about the Mt. Cenis tunnel and a segment of the final apotheosis.