10 July 2019

New acquisitions: Zingari (1920)

Today the second post on postcards Ivo Blom acquired last month at the Il Cinema Ritrovato Book Fair in Bologna. It's a film special on the Italian silent drama Zingari/Gypsies (1920), starring diva Italia Almirante (Manzini) and directed by her husband, Mario Almirante for the film studio Fert Film. Italia Almirante played Vielka, daughter of the king of the gypsies.

Italia Almirante Manzini in Zingari (1920)
Italian postcard for Zingari (Mario Almirante, 1920), starring Italia Almirante Manzini.

Italia Almirante and Amleto Novelli in Zingari (1920)
Italian postcard for Zingari (Mario Almirante, 1920). Caption: The first encounter of Vielka (Italia Almirante) and Sindel (Amleto Novelli). The woman Novelli carries may be Rosetta Solari, who plays Radscia.

Italia Almirante Manzini and Amleto Novelli in Zingari (1920)
Italian postcard for Zingari (Mario Almirante, 1920). Caption: Vielka challenges Sindel. The second woman may be Rosetta Solari.

A warm, vigorous and deeply human performance


In Zingari/Gypsies (1920), Old Jammadar (Alfonso Cassini), king of the gypsies, wants to marry his daughter Vielka (Italia Almirante) to Gudlo (Franz Sala), member of an important and valuable clan, but also a violent and ambitious man.

Vielka, instead, loves the head of another clan, Sindel (Amleto Novelli). When Jammadar dies, Vielka is crowned queen of the gypsies. The proud Sindel distances himself of the woman out of fear to become a prince consort. The perfidious Gudlo wounds and betrays Sindel, but Vielka renounces her crown and thus regains Sindel's love, who chases Gudlo from the clan.

Zingari was produced by Fert Film and distributed by Pittaluga. The film was scripted and directed by Mario Almirante and photographed by Ubaldo Arata. It was one of Arata's first films. The active cinematographer did over 100 films between 1918 and 1947, including Roberto Rossellini's Roma città aperta/Rome, Open City (1945).

The film premiered on 27 December 1920. At the time, critics wrote mixed reviews. The Neapolitan Cine-Fono wrote that despite the luxurious mise-en-scene, script and direction were not top, while Italia Almirante was beautiful but too external and lacking psychology and her co-star Amleto Novelli was straight-jacked in his acting.

Instead, the Roman journal Febo wrote that despite well-known romantic elements, the story was solid, convincing and at times original. Also, the mise-en-scene was impeccable, faithful for the interiors, and picturesque for the exteriors - while the used film technology showed modernity and innovation. Among the performance of the actors in particular that of Italia Almirante was singled out as warm, vigorous and deeply human.

Italia Almirante Manzini and Alfonso Cassini in Zingari (1920)
Italian postcard for Zingari (Mario Almirante, 1920). Caption: Jammadar (Alfonso Cassini) shouts to Vielka (Italia Almirante): I will crush you!

Italia Almirante Manzini, Alfonso Cassini and Franz Sala in Zingari (1920)
Italian postcard for Zingari (Mario Almirante, 1920). Caption: Jammadar forces Vielka to marry Gudlo.

Italia Almirante Manzini in Zingari (1920)
Italian postcard for Zingari (Mario Almirante, 1920). Caption: Vielka returns to the gypsy wagon.

Italia Almirante Manzini and Amleto Novelli in Zingari (1920)
Italian postcard for Zingari (Mario Almirante, 1920). Caption: Vielka (Italia Almirante) tends to the wounded Sindel (Amleto Novelli) in her wagon.

Zingari (1920)
Italian postcard for Zingari (Mario Almirante, 1920). Caption: The gypsy camp.

Sources: Vittorio Martinelli (Il cinema muto italiano 1920 - Italian), Wikipedia (Italian and English) and IMDb.

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