Cinema Ritrovato 2017: the epic recovery


Posted by Larry Gleeson

The epic found: projections last night involved, excited, and thrilled the audience in Piazza Maggiore in front of two absolute masterpieces: the Prologue de La Roue Abel Gance (1923), anticipation of the restoration carried out by the Foundation Jérôme Seydoux-Pathé that we will see in full in 2019, and perhaps the most famous of the least popular films in cinema history, the battleship Potemkin the master Eisenstein (1925).

It is said that the epic, not only as a narrative way, but above all as an experience, belongs to the time before modernity: those traits of oneness, of wholeness, of poetry which constitute the essential features would be less with the crushing psychic urban life, contemporary, with the isolation of the individual would lose a sense of affiliation to a community.

And if this seems to be confirmed in our contemporary world, where everyone seems to pay attention only to the individual’s own smartphone, however there are (and would say – with a sigh of relief – thankfully) still times when you can gather in front of another screen, the “big” (in every sense) of film and breathe, tremble in his chair, clapping, standing up in front of the magnetic force of images that are sublime precisely because they make each viewer perceives the energetic power that exists outside of himself.

La Roue was previewed in all directions: in addition to acting as an introduction as the prologue of the complex material which constitutes the integral of the restoration corpus (for a total amount of vision 8:00 to 9:00 hours), the musical sound of yesterday night recovered the composition of Arthur Honegger that had not been staged since 1923. the orchestra of the philharmonic of the Bologna municipal Theater accompanied assembly kaleidoscopic filters of red, yellow, blue where unfolds a story of modernity, in which human and mechanical body collide railway accident, in which the tragic faces of women who flee from the rubble will make ghosts coming out of the smoke, only to find themselves permanently de-humanized in the doll with which the little Norma, was orphaned in the accident and taken under the protective wing of the mechanical Sisif, it reproduces, as in a disturbing game, the accident. The Wheel becomes a symbol of collective unity under which one finds these human emotions: tragedy (the wheel of the train that derailed), hope (Sisif is a little sister for her son) and the eternal randomness (as the tableau closing, the wheel, that of life, always runs).

But the event of the evening was undoubtedly the projection of the reference film of the Russian assembly teacher, introduced by a shiny Naum Kleiman, probably the world’s leading expert Eisenstein, founder of Eisenstein Center in Moscow where he was the director until the his dismissal in 2014 by the Putin government. And during the screening has presentificata what Benjamin called Erfahrung , the collective dimension, unique, according to the German philosopher, in order to be considered truly “experience.” We all watched in horror as the worms of rotten meat on the Potemkin, so visually similar to the sailors on either side of the dock looking to get away dall’agguato set for him by the officers. We participated intensely in the uprising and lamented the killing dell’ispiratore of minds. We watched with apprehension and indignation at the massacre of the Odessa staircase, where the attention to detail of the faces, bearers of true humanity, the alternates wildly convulsive movement of the crowd running away, the steps that you are open-air graveyard .

And in the end, when the hammering of syncopated music (composed in 1926 by Edmund Meisel) masterfully performed by the orchestra of Bologna and directed by Helmut Imig in a state of ecstasy dragged the public apprehension about the possible outbreak of a war by sea , here it is, the catharsis: silent scream of “Brothers!” melody relaxes, the red flag stands on the top and the audience bursts into applause pure and spontaneous release, which only the final standing ovation can match.

The power of moving images is also this: can talk, almost a century later, to an audience that needs time, perhaps more than ever, to narrate through a new collective epic.

— Beatrice Seligardi