Wednesday 31 May 2023

Rouben Mamoulian, Lost and Found (André S. Labarthe, 2016)

Rouben Mamoulian, Lost and Found

Free admission screening of the film at Il Cinema Ritrovato, on June 23, 14.30, Sala Scorsese.

When it comes to filmed interviews, Mamoulian is one of the well-documented giants of classical Hollywood. His eloquence and wisdom can be heard in interviews shot for documentaries about his friends (George Stevens: A Filmmaker's Journey, shown at Il Cinema Ritrovato 2021) or horror cinema (The Horror of It All by Gene Feldman and Suzette Winter, 1983). There are films exclusively about him such as Patrick Cazals's Rouben Mamoulian, l’âge d’or de Broadway et Hollywood (2007) which also features brief clips of interviews that Iranian director of Armenian origins, Arby Ovanessian (a guest of Il Cinema Ritrovato 2022) conducted with Mamoulian. Television networks, too, since the revival of his films in the 1960s, have interviewed him as in BBC's Film Extra (1973). However, this French television interview, by one of the fathering figures of television documentaries on cinema, André S. Labarthe, was lost for decades until retrieved and made into the Rouben Mamoulian, Lost and Found. This is the most detailed career interview Mamoulian ever gave on film.

Tuesday 30 May 2023

Cherike-ye Tara [The Ballad of Tara] (Bahram Beyzaie, 1979)

The Ballad of Tara

Bahram Beyzaie's seamless blend of myth, symbolism, folklore and classical Persian literature in The Ballad of Tara is unparalleled in its complexity. Yet, apart from Downpour (1972), which was restored and revived a decade ago, the director with the most consistent body of work in the Iranian cinema of the 1970s is also, unjustly, one of the most invisible masters of the Iranian New Wave. Here, as well as directing, he has also produced, written, set-, costume-designed and edited a mesmerising tale that fuses the ceremonial legends of the past with contemporary life. Tara, a strong-willed widow encounters the fleeting ghost of an ancient warrior in the forest next to her village. The ghost's appearances become more frequent and finally he talks to her, claiming a sword that she has found among her father's effects. Without the sword, the dead warrior can't rest. But when the sword is restored to him, it's his love for Tara that prevents him from returning to the land of the dead.

Monday 22 May 2023

Rouben Mamoulian: A Touch of Desire

Silk Stockings | publicity still

Rouben Mamoulian: A Touch of Desire (1926-1957)

Retrospective at Il Cinema Ritrovato, June 24-July 2, 2023

Known for his ability to encode his vision in light, movement, and later in colour, the Tbilisi-born Armenian Rouben Mamoulian had one of the most consistent bodies of work in American cinema. Rightly celebrated for his invaluable contribution to Hollywood's transition to sound, he both unchained the camera and used dialogue like a work of musical accompaniment. His mobile camera was envied and imitated, and his style is instantly recognisable for its sophistication, humour and erotic undertone. Mamoulian was equally efficient in more sombre types of cinema, serving as a pioneering figure in both gangster and horror genres. This career retrospective showcases Mamoulian's work from his only silent film, to the early sound period, to his final musical, in colour and CinemaScope. Aside from a new digital restoration of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, everything else will be screened in 35mm.