During World War II, tug boats conduct what are called salvage missions - picking up disabled ships. Not well equipped with weaponry, the tugs are sitting ducks for enemy fire. As such, the... See full summary »
Cesira and her 13-year-old daughter, Rosetta, flee from the allied bombs in Rome during the second world war. They travel to the village where Cesira was born. During their journey and in ... See full summary »
Napoli, anni cinquanta. Un cantastorie, che abita con la numerosa famiglia in una misera catapecchia, viene sfrattato e se ne va coi suoi familiari per le strade, spingendo il pianino di ... See full summary »
Paolo Silvestri, grandson of a retired admiral, and Massimo Falchetti, son of a rich shipping magnate, are studying at Leghorn Academy. The two friends both love the sea, but whilst Paolo ... See full summary »
When peasant girl Nives is deserted by smuggler Gino Lodi, she betrays him to the police. Police officer Enzo Cinti, who loves Nives, traces her to the Po River cane-fields, where she is ... See full summary »
Opera is a different stage art from spoken theatre, let alone theatrical films or television. Opera succeeds on its own terms or it doesn't signify at all. The "problem" with opera is not that opera singers are not as bodacious as film stars; the principal requirement in opera is that the musical drama be conveyed in musical as well as visual terms in a manner all its own, a stage mystery that is easier to experience than to analyse.
Non-musicians seldom understand this. They seek to graft on whatever expressive values they trade in within the medium they are familiar with, without understanding why and how opera works on its own, without their alien help.
Thus the woman who sings Amneris in the soundtrack of this film, Ebe Stignani (1903-1974) may have been, at 50, wider than she was tall and not Hollywood's idea of an appropriate screen figure, yet she was, even in 1953, an amazing Amneris, successful throughout the world in this, her greatest role, consistently making dramatic contact with her audiences through the musico-dramatic medium of Verdi's music. And she had been doing so since her debut (as Amneris), in 1925.
Lois Maxwell, who lip-syncs to Stignani's singing here, simply makes no impact, dramatic, filmic, musical or even sex-appealing. We KNOW that Stignani was a hugely successful Amneris without Maxwell. What does Maxwell add to Signani's Amneris through the medium of this film? Nothing at all.
A film that brought us, even at once removed, the greatness of a Stignani or a Renata Tebaldi, might have had some filmic justification. But this film, which adds nothing at all to what the singers had to contribute and rather detracts from it, is of no value.
What the film does underline is the limitations, cultural, visual, technological, of a merely mechanical medium. Everything about this film is ludicrously dated, except the singing of the great singers whom it pretended to "improve" all those long years ago.
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