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  • Serious Italian films from this period are difficult to find on the ground. What mostly survives are the bone-breaking comedies that make Keystone slapstick look like drawing room comedies and, of course, the epics. It is the epics that pieces like this one-reel drama evolved into within a couple of years. There are three big set-pieces, one in which the schoolboy dreams of running off to join Garibaldi's campaign to unify Italy; the second is the battle scene -- naturally! -- which is stagy and unrealistically acted to the modern eye; and the capper.

    Technically, this is a fine piece, both for the stencilled color effects and the double exposures. The modern viewer, used to computer generated images and camera cranes that can swing through arcs of fifty meters without a thought, forgets what can be done by craftsmen in the camera. But although of great technical and historical interest, the primitive screen acting makes this one largely a curiosity to the modern eye.
  • kekseksa14 September 2017
    The Italians were very much ahead of the game at this point in time. Their major specialty was (and continued for some while to be) the patriotic film and the kolossal (the epic) and also adaptations of Shakespeare. La Presa di Roma (patriotic) had appeared in 1905 and and early version of The Last Days of Pompeii (kolossal) had already appeared in 1908 and pointed the way towards the Pastrone's wonderful Cabiria of 1914, a film that would do so much to establish what critics prissily (and inaccurately) like to call "the grammar" of cinema (there is no one single grammar of cinema). Comics like André Deedes (French but performing at this time in Italy as "Cretinetti") and even more so Spanish-born Marcel Peréz/Marcel Fabre (who performed in Italy as "Robinet") were both introducing elements of the absurd and the surreal into their comedy which make the later repertoire of Mack Sennett and co look distinctly simple-minded.

    In 1909 there was also Otello, Julius Caesar, Nero or the Fall of Rome (all shorts and readily available) as well as this slightly gruesome patriotic film. If it was ever stencil-coloured, only the other reviewer here seems to know about it; all copies I have seen are merely tinted, which is a quite different thing.

    The theme of a (much smaller) boy's dreams of battle was taken up in one of the finest films of 1917, Pastrone and Chomon's The War and the Dream of Momi, also rather gruesome in its implications but rather wonderful too.

    In 1910 there would be Hamlet, The Merchant of Venice, King Lear, Anita Garibaldi, The Rape of the Sabine Women, Didone abandonnata as well as the fine lyric short L'Ave Maria di Gounod. In 1911 came The Fall of Troy, Agrippina, San Sebastiano, La Sposa del Nilo, the excellent parody The Extraordinary Adventures of Saturnino Farandola, the first film version of Pinocchio and (the real breakthrough) the first two full-length epics The Odyssey and Dante's Inferno.
  • One word. Cinematic transitions. There are no two ways about it: this movie is exquisite. A cinematic masterpiece that goes under the radar, perhaps because it predates the radar itself, this is one of the finest things ever to grace the screen. The emotions of grief, love, passion, bravery and intense nationalism permeate the movie in spite of its all-too-telling silence. The actors do a finer job than any who have followed them. If this film isn't nominated for the 2023 Oscars, a nomination that is 103 years too late, it truly will be a tragedy.