Cinema Ritrovato: The Classics Restored

Dustin Hoffman & Anne Bancroft in ‘The Graduate’

An exciting festival is set to make an upcoming appearance at Cinema La Compagnia (Via Cavour, 50/r) from Nov. 30 – Dec. 3, a four-day event dedicated to ‘Cinema Ritrovato,’ a series of showings of restored classic films.  In the spotlight are producers and directors such as Mike Nichols with The Graduate, Marco Ferreri with La Donna Scimmia (The Ape Woman) and Nicholas Ray with Johnny Guitar. The majority of films mentioned below will be screened in English unless stated otherwise. Entry fee, €5 per person and €4 for students/under 25s.

Thursday, 30 will kick-start with Soleil Ô, shot in Africa, a film that follows the story of a young Mauritian man who is given the chance to work in Paris. Moving from his homeland will place him face-to-face with racism and subjugation. (French and Arabic with Italian subtitles, 4:30 pm).

The evening continues at 6:30 pm with Johnny Guitar by Nicholas Ray (1954). A vibrant and splendid American western in which the protagonist Vienna, a saloonkeeper, is being forced out of town (Arizona) by her long-time rivals, until Johnny Guitar the mysterious newcomer, arrives to save the day. This is a dramatic comedy full of bright colours, which follows the story of Johnny and his men, despite the real protagonist being a woman (Italian subtitles).

The event celebrates The Graduate’s 50th anniversary at 8:30 pm, with the incredible Dustin Hoffman, an iconic figure in the cinematic world with a constant solid presence on stage, as protagonist. The film, which has been restored by Criterion Collection, has converted the original black and white to a colour-filled production by Grover Crisp.

Made in 1967, the movie is a romantic comedy-drama directed by Mike Nichols and was inspired by a novel of the same name by Charles Webb. Benjamin Braddock (Dustin Hoffman) is a recent college graduate who finds himself lost after realising he has no ambition in life and is seduced by an older woman, Mrs. Robinson (Anne Bancroft) (Italian subtitles).

Friday, December 1 will begin at 2:30 pm with Modern Times by Charlie Chaplin. The silent comedy is still very much a topical issue in today’s society. Charlie Chaplin struggles to survive in an industrialised world, encompassing the time of the ‘Great Depression;’ the character reflects the pain of a world becoming more and more modern by the day. Work-life is repetitive and inhumane, working on the assembly line of a work factory an employee barely has to move, repeating the same gesture over and over; Chapplin’s character is eventually driven insane.

Providing an alternative genre is Bring me the Head of Alfredo Garcia at 6:30 pm. This noir, thriller is brutally reflective of the mafia, crime world. When a Mexican crime boss (Emilio Fernández) learns that his daughter is pregnant with his partner’s (Alfredo Garcia) child, the search for the perfect hitman ensues. (Lines delivered in both Spanish and English with Italian and English subtitles).

Celebrating Italian cinema and continuing with the dark, thriller theme is The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, a 1970 film deemed as a giallo, a 20th century horror crime fiction by Dario Argento. Marking the director’s debut, the plot centres on protagonist Sam Dalmas who witnesses the attack of a woman at an art gallery. The murderer manages to fledge the scene and is believed to be a serial killer who is attacking young women across the city of Rome. Sam is now the key to unlocking the mystery, given that he is the only present witness during that evening (Italian version with English subtitles).

The schedule for Saturday, Dec. 2 is just as exciting, with the first showing of the day being La Donna Scimmia (The Ape Woman) by Marco Ferreri at 2:30 pm. The film, an entry at the 1964 Cannes Film Festival, was inspired by the real-life story of Julia Pastrana, a 19th century woman exploited and humiliated by her manager Theodore Lent. Annie Girardot as “Ape Woman” marries entrepreneur Focaccia (Ugo Tognazzi) who begins putting her on show at a freak circus acts (film is in original language, Italian).

Experience the run-away life of Cary Grant, in Becoming Cary Grant at 7 pm, the story of a man, originally named Archibald Alexander Leach, who is tired of living a life suffocated by his mother’s obsessive love and only wishes to take over world-wide stages. Leaving everything behind may be easy for him, but the past may not be so ready to say goodbye just yet (Italian subtitles).

Returning to the screen at 9 pm is Scarface directed by Howard Hawks and produced by Howard Hughes (1932). The American gangster movie is loosely based on the rise and fall of Al Capone. The film having been changed around three times to have different endings due censorship guidelines in the mid 1930s, was deemed as “too violent” and overturned ‘fascist’ rules. The public, thanks to Cinema La Compagnia, can now experience in all its glory the story of Chicago gangs’ attempts to control the city (subtitles in Italian).

Sunday, December 3’s line-up will include God Save the Green by Michele Mellara and Alessandro Rossi (2012) at 4 pm, The Asphalt Jungle (1950) by John Huston at 7 pm and Day for Night (1973) by French director François Truffaut at 9 pm.

Cinema Ritrovato will offer two short films daily part of the ‘Kinemacolor’ shooting style (colour motion picture process) popular from 1908 – 1914 Black and white pictures are projected behind an alternating red and green filter, to create a colourful and vibrant image.

Some of the shorts include L’Inaugurazione del Campanile di San Marco/The Inauguration of the San Marco Bell (1912, 11’); Lake Garda – a short film showcasing the beautiful area (1910, 8’); and Calcutta: The Pageant Procession (1912, 5’), a fragment of the silent film With King and Queen through India, in which a ceremony is held to mark the coronation of King George V as the new emperor of India (each will be shown daily, one before the second movie screening, and one before the last).

To see the full programme schedule visit Cinema La Compagnia’s website. (karen gee)