05 July 2022 17:05
It was the event nail, if not the apotheosis, of the Bologna event Il Cinema rediscovered which came to an end on Sunday. This is the projection in Piazza Maggiore of The blues brothers (1980) John Landis, in. extended version and in the presence of the director. Landis spoke at length, telling many of the amusing anecdotes behind the production of a unique film, an expression of a cinema that always seems to be inserted in the present, always current. During the entire festival, in fact, there has never been such a crowd for any of the other titles screened. There was no walking in the square, and this despite the fact that an exceptional screening was also planned at the Arlecchino cinema. And seeing a part of the audience dressed up in the clothing now made mythical by the couple John Belushi-Dan Aykroyd – almost an elegant and stylized anarchoid uniform – and moving synchronously in the rows to some of the most famous pieces of music was another spectacle in the show. .
The fact is that The blues brothers not only did it not resemble what had been done up until then, but neither did it resemble afterwards. The crazy, cheerful and overwhelming power of the film still leaves you speechless, and it is all the more true on the big screen more than forty years after Landis had to turn 324 pages written in “free verse” into a complete screenplay and succeed in no less insane undertaking of making the members of the famous Saturday Night Live show become film characters, in particular Belushi and Aykroyd, already authors of a record, Briefcase full of blues, 1978 double platinum winner. But it is pure cinema and great direction, choreography of movement, of bodies as of cars which, by reinventing the musical film, updates comedy to the new times and with remarkable originality. splapstick and that of Buster Keaton. The result is a mad rush, where the entire established order is overwhelmed and the entire puritan hypocrisy of white America pierced, while the greats of black music joyfully flow by, laughing and singing it in performances that have marked entire generations. . The US obsession with order at all costs, almost a catalog, is perfectly staged and ridiculed by the couple “Joliet” Jake Blues (John Belushi) and Elwood Blues (Dan Aykroyd), who ideally seem to close with a last, grandiose firework the uncontrolled seventies before the great ebb of the eighties, which seem to never end.
Una scena da The blues brothers
It is a cinema where the screenplay is a skeleton to be filled with the pulp of the direction, but the surprise and the pleasure were no less great in attending the screening, also in Piazza Maggiore, of Singing in the rain (1962), the classic by Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly. The magnificence of the restored colors and the inventiveness of the choreography and scenography still leave us speechless, making us feel like children in the dimension of enchantment. And the same feeling is experienced by seeing the restored 4K version of The conformist by Bernardo Bertolucci, which confirms itself as one of the great films on fascism and hypnotizes from the very beginning.
But in the square there was also room for silent films, as in the case of the complete and restored version of Erich von Stroheim’s masterpiece, Crazy females, one hundred years after its release. It was the first major worldwide success of the Austrian but American by adoption director. Accompanied in an excellent way by the music of the orchestra of the Teatro Comunale di Bologna, the approximately 26 minutes more than the most recent versions, even if always short compared to the 386 minutes of the original version desired by the director, have amplified the power of one of the masterpieces of the filmmaker who had the town of the Principality of Monaco rebuilt in his studio at very high costs, to better tell his magnificent obsession: the decadence of European civilization and therefore of civilization short. The parts in monochromatic colors have been reconstructed with a complex work and yet still today they create an alienating dream effect in the viewer, not entirely far from the psychedelic trip, amplifying the force of this cruel parable on the petty emptiness of a civilization destined for self-destruction.
At the opposite end of the decadent aristocratic world represented by Stroheim, it was instead a total surprise the presentation in the square of the latest silent film produced in France, In the night (1929), the only directorial work of the actor Charles Vanel, an intense and moving homage to Vanel’s father – a miner – and to that world made of great effort but also of great humanity. The accompaniment with electronic music of the couple formed by CW03 and CW04, of the Finnish avant-garde musical group Cleaning Women, represented a very successful experiment on which a separate analysis should be made and which seems to adhere perfectly to the spirit of the work: after an initial part of great realistic beauty, including the way the miners party, much of the film slips into a dream dimension, if not a nightmare, and turns out to be a sort of theoretical manifesto for a hallucinated experimentation within a production for the general public, worthy of being combined with the masterpieces of surrealist or mythical cinema Atalanta (1934) by Jean Vigo. And it saddens that the film’s processing times did not allow this unique and sincere work to arrive in theaters before the explosion of films with sound, soon ending up in oblivion.
They are works of pure cinema, that is, works where the direction predominates over the screenplay, where the uniqueness of a talent predominates and directs the other talents. For example, the case of the Japanese Kenji Misumi (1921-1975) is emblematic. The review dedicated to him is the revelation of a true author, even if remembered as an “unaware author” to resume the definition of a critic, and is one of those that draw critics and scholars from all over the world, as shown by the projections gone exhausted. Also nicknamed “little Mizoguchi”, in particular for his feminine sensibility, his films favor the genre of Shambara (Japanese swashbuckling cinema), and really impress. In particular Kiru (1962), where in just seventy minutes a miraculous balance between dry editing and a refined visual stylization borders on abstraction and poetry, giving this masterpiece a density such as to change temporal perception in the viewer, thus amplifying the strength of this masterpiece. analysis, in a specific social context, of the human and in particular female dynamics that Misumi outlines with considerable expressive force.
Finally, the Free Cinema section filled the Jolly and Arlecchino cinemas with Indian Thamp (1978) by Aravindan Govindan, an admirable journey between anthropological and mystical poetry, in an extraordinary black and white, within the small community of a village confronted with a guest community, that of a traveling circus. And with Dar Ghorbat (1975) by the Iranian Sohrab Shahid Saless, about a group of Turkish immigrants in West Germany in the late 1970s. Modernity, dry narration, dialogues and montage and an almost pictorial sensitivity in colors, with some proximity to the Nuri Bilge Ceylan of the beginnings, this masterpiece fascinates from start to finish and at the same time reveals a modernity and depth that deserves the screening in high schools. Because this is a cinema that should be “rediscovered” very often.