Saturday, February 18, 2012

Thais - 1916

Country: Italy
Director: Anton Giulio Bragaglia
Writer: Riccardo Cassano
Stars: Augusto Bandini, Alberto Casanova and Thaïs Galitzky
Also known as: Les possédées (France)
Production Co: Novissima Film
Runtime: 35 min (18 fps) (2001 restoration)
Sound Mix: Silent
Color: Black and White
Plot Keywords: Futurism
Genres: Short
"Futurism" was an avant-garde artistic movement, created in 1909 ( as you can see your grandfathers were long haired and dangerous youngsters for a while ) that demands a rejection of tradition and the past while exalting technical innovations, especially the mechanical ones, present and future. This avant-garde artistic movement ( literature and music genres) found great acceptance in Italy where many artists developed the Futurism postulates.
Herr Anton Giulio Bragaglia was a notable Italian Futurist who began experimenting with photography and published an important manifesto as a theoretical basis for Futurist photography, "Fotodinamismo Futurista". In addition to his career as set designer Herr Bragaglia had a short but intense film career, "Thais" being his debut as a Futurist director.
In any case "Thais" is a film that combines in a strange way classicism and the ( Futurist ) modernism, a paradox since we know that the Futurists were people who rejected tradition and the"Thais" story is a very conventional one. It tells of a "femme fatale" who toys with and uses her admirers for her capricious purposes with the expected tragic ending. Classicism can be seen too in the beautiful images from evocative landscapes sequences as the ferry at the river or Bianca's race to the abyss ( "Naturalism" reminiscences?... ) or Herr Charles Baudelaire's poems ( "Impressionism" reminiscences? ) Only at the end of the film do we see the "Futurist" influences in the highly stylized and geometrical décors in which our heroine suffers her particular punishment, a sequence in which Herr Bragaglia's talent as a set designer is put to good effect.
For those reasons for this German Count "Thais" is a kind of interesting film catalogue of many artistic movements ( curious artistic duality ) strangely mixed, a display of the spirit of those innovative early years that grants the film an artistic and remarkable balance as a whole.
And now, if you'll allow me, I must temporarily take my leave because this German Count must retrieve his conservative Teutonic influences. 


  1. What a fantastic site! Put a picture of Valentino up there and you're good to go! lol

  2. Thanks for this excellent on-line resource! I don't know how you do it, but keep on doing it... I teach History of Art and have also just linked to your 'Thais' posting from the blog I am setting up to go with my new text book.