Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Giulio Gianini & Emanuele Luzzati "L'italiana In Algeri" (1968)

Giulio Gianini 1927-2009

Around the time I first commenced writing this blog Michael Sporn wrote a series of articles on the work of Emanuele Luzzati who passed away in February 2007. Giulio Gianini, Luzzati's artistic partner over some 26 films, died this weekend and Michael has again posted an article and copious artwork in tribute. I decided to draw attention to the pair's 1968 L'italiana In Algeri (The Italian Girl in Algiers). For a breakdown of the plot may I draw attention to Michael's original review here. The ten minute film is based on an overture by the then 21 year old Gioachino Rossini first performed in 1813. The screen credits are for Luzzati/design and Gianini/photography and animation. Enough of the overtures. The tale is light in touch throughout, from the introductory verse at the outset as the waves lift up the tiny boat containing Lindor and Isabel from Venice in rumbustious time to the music. Castaways now on the rocks off the battlements of Algiers, Ali, “a treacherous knave”, spies the shipwrecked girl and plans to add her to his master’s already plentiful harem, a plan with which said Mustapha heartily concurs. The remainder of the movie concerns the pair’s attempt to thwart the lascivious Bey of Algiers. This is not highbrow drama. There is a great sense of fun throughout. Isabel spies the soldiers from the beach and thrusts her lover's head out of sight just in time; there follows high farce as she uses her plentiful charms to both encourage her suitor whilst shielding the ardent Lindor from their gaze. The use of cutouts with caricatured faces that dart about the screen, exuberant colour and the sheer quality of design all enrich our world of animation. Such riches - Lindor's ardour, Isabel's fluttering fan, Ali's knavery, Mustapha's female retinue.

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