the first epic film devoted to the notorious seducer (on Blu

Blu-ray Casanova 1927 00

Artistic note: Red StarRed StarRed StarRed Stargray star(4/5)


Casanova leads great train and great debauchery in the City of the Doges. Pampered by women, pursued by his creditors, he ends up attracting the wrath of husbands who conspire with the Council of Ten to have him arrested and sentenced. Casanova chooses to flee, and reaches Russia via Austria. He entered the court of Tsar Paul III under the identity of a French milliner, became familiar with Catherine the Great and witnessed her seizure of power against her husband. But his demon of women leads to his disgrace he must flee again…

• Original title: Casanova
• Media tested: Blu-ray
• Genre: drama, biopic, historical
• Year: 1927
• Director: Alexandre Volkoff
• Cast: Ivan Mosjoukine, Suzanne Bianchetti, Diana Karenne, Jenny Jugo, Rudolph Klein-Rogge, Rina De Liguoro, Paul Guidé, Olga Gay, D. Dimitrieff, Carlo Tedeschi, Nina Koshitz, Michel Simon, Jean Delannoy
• Duration: 2 h 40 min 06
• Video format: 16:9
• Cine format: 1.33/1 black and white tinted with stencil sequence
• Subtitling: French, English, Italian
• Sound track: DTS-HD MA 2.0 music
• Bonus: Deluxe combo with Blu-ray and DVD of the film – a “Casanova” booklet on the history of the film and its restoration, illustrated with unpublished filming and exploitation photographs (24 pages) – Günter A. Buchwald: Composing for a silent filminterview (VOST, 8 min 34) – image gallery: production documents, original photos and period advertising from the Lenny Broger/La Cinémathèque français/Carlo Montanaro collections (10 min 50)
• Publisher: Doriane Films and Lobster Films

Art commentary

casanova by Alexandre Volkoff was released on June 22, 1927 in Paris at the Empire cinema. Conceived as a blockbuster, the film was shot in the Austrian Alps and on location in Venice. It’s a very good example showing that the cinematographic language had reached a level of totally accomplished technical mastery, just before the advent of sound cinema. Tracking shots, superpositions, fades, framing, everything is at work to treat, according to an impressive epic staging, the adventurous destiny of the archetypal seducer Giacomo Casanova who, until then, had not conquered the 7th Art, except for a 1919 film directed and played by Alfréd Deésy (also with Bela Lugosi in the credits). casanova brings together two eminent artists from the Albatros studio, a famous production studio founded in 1920 in Montreuil by white Russians in exile. Director Alexandre Volkoff was, among other things, the filmmaker of Kean (1924) and the river film The House of Mystery (1923) to resounding success, in which he directed Ivan Mosjoukine, who will be his Casanova. This Russian star of the 1910s, once settled in France, continues to chain significant roles in auteur films by great directors such as Jean Epstein and Marcel L’Herbier. The generic of casanova brings together, of course, many attractive actresses including Diana Karenne who plays the Duchess of Lardi and Suzanne Bianchetti who embodies Catherine II. The most discerning will recognize young Michel Simon in an amusing secondary role. The vision of the film undeniably attests to the care taken in the evocation: in the studio as well as outdoors, the superb photography is by Léonce-Henri Bruel, a regular at Abel Gance, who knows how to highlight the costumes of Boris Bilinsky and the striking sets by Alexandre Lochakoff. The tripartite structure (Venice, Russia, Venice) of this widely analyzed long adventure film shows that the filmmaker changed genre in each segment while maintaining an exemplary formal aesthetic and the sense of spectacle desired by the production. Qualified as superficial on its release, despite its undeniable artistic qualities and the remarkable performance of Ivan Mosjoukine in top form and jubilant in the self-parody (see booklet), casanova will not achieve the expected success. It is probably partly for this reason that after 1931, its last screening in a truncated version, the film will be forgotten. But, very fortunately, a reel (the one colored with a stencil) and pieces of the original negative will be kept in the reserves of the Cinémathèque française. Editor Renée Lichtig, in charge of the film restoration service from 1978, discovered these elements and decided on a reconstruction of the film, which would be supplemented by other elements from the cinematheques of Prague and Rome, based on a illustrated novelization. She chooses to remount the French version whose music is composed free of charge by Georges Delerue. This restored version will be shown in Los Angeles and Paris in 1986, then in Venice in 1988. It was then digitized by La Cinémathèque française in 2016. Accompanied by a new score (see bonus) composed and conducted by Günter A. Buchwald , it is this version, the most faithful possible, which is offered on Blu-ray. A cinephile’s godsend to discover this twirling portrait of a feverish and stuntman Casanova, sympathetic and mocking, in a world in decline symbolized by a colorful carnival (in stencil). The realization does not fear censorship (bare breasts) or large paintings with crowds of extras. For all his artistic qualities, casanova amply deserves to be discovered, in high definition, in its most complete version possible.

Blu-ray Casanova 1927

Technical Comment

The reconstruction of the film was carried out by Renée Lichtig in 1985. The film was restored in 2016 by La Cinémathèque Française from an intermediate safety positive taken from the original negative kept in its collections. The stencilled colored carnival sequence was scanned and restored in 4K (scan by the Éclair laboratory) from a vintage diacetate copy from its collections

Image : HD copy, excellent definition but variable sharpness depending on the shots, homogeneous film texture (shooting in 35 mm), stable and clean image but flaws persist (spots, scratches), excellent overall contrast with some occasional fluctuations in density, strong blacks, warm color grading preserving tinted and stencil sequences

His : new music composed by Günter A. Buchwald and performed by the San Marco Pordenone orchestra on January 13 and 14, 2021 at the Teatro Verdi in Pordenone, 2.0 stereophonic mixing, excellent dynamics restoring all the orchestral power, ample but very frontal spatialization

Our opinion

Image : Red StarRed StarRed Starhalf red stargray star(3.5/5)
Sound mixing: blue Starblue Starblue Starblue Stargray star(4/5)
Bonuses: Red StarRed StarRed Starhalf red stargray star(3.5/5)
Packaging: blue Starblue Starblue Stargray stargray star(3/5)

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the first epic film devoted to the notorious seducer (on Blu-ray and DVD)