Bitter Rice released in cinemas September 21, 1949: a report by Italo Calvino
On the anniversary of the release of the film "Bitter Rice" by Giuseppe De Santis, one of the masterpieces of neo-realism, we publish excerpts from an Italo Calvino reportage appeared on the Piedmontese Edition of The Unit of July 14, 1948.
Among poplars of the paddy the "Cinecittà" of rice workers (mondine)
We are among poplars and rice fields of Veneria Lignana. Nearby, it's camped the "crew" of the LUX Film that is shooting Bitter Rice, the film that has for background the weeding of rice in Vercelli. It's night and you're shooting one of the most dramatic scenes of the film. ... ........................... ..
Bitter Rice is a film shot all on location: De Santis love for the reality borders on fanaticism. The most violent scene of the film, for example, takes place in a real butcher with quartered cows hanging from hooks and it seems that the smell of the meat that was going bad in the spotlight has helped a lot to haunt the atmosphere. .................................
Doris and Silvana
Bitter Rice ......... .. has two female leads. One is American, Doris Dowling and many will remember her in The Lost Weekend. ...................... in such heroic conditions, camped among the rice fields for three months, so far away from all of Hollywood comfort, Dowling is excited about the film, De Santis, actors and recites with a magnificent effort.
............................... Silvana Mangano will be one of the great fortunes of the film. She's Roman, has eighteen years, the face and hair of Botticelli's Venus, but an expression more fair, gentle and fair, dark eyes and blond hair, a clear complexion and clear, with no shadows or lights, ........, a bust of a daring harmony of lines and areas triumphant, life as a slender stem and a wonderful rhythm full of curves and long-limbed limbs. So, in short, Silvana Mangano made me a great impression and I must declare that no photographs may be enough to give you an idea.
The tuft of De Santis
The seal of truth, and the true morality of the film, even if the subject because of business needs indulges in some rhetoric and in a conventional pessimism, are the great commitment of realism and humanity that Beppe De Santis puts it in his direction. Perched behind the camera De Santis explains, corrects, plays the part of everyone with nervous rage, twisting the tuft in the middle of the skull ........................ .. Today in Veneria it's came Petrassi master who will compose the musical score of Bitter Rice. And De Santis explains how it set the musical score, largely based on popular tunes, and sings his own songs of "mondine".
................But besides these Cinecittà "mondine" there is the crowd of authentic "mondine". Seeing the "mondine" come back from work, I wonder why the cinema has not thought before to draw inspiration from this area so rich in humanity and color, these joy adventurous full collective pugnacity.
Between "mondine" and those of the film has run immediately created the warmest friendship. But in a few days, after the weeding, this noisy and multicolored swarm will return to their homes. In the immense paddy will remain only the crew of De Santis to finish the film. "Veneria without "mondine" remains very sad," says De Santis watching the monotonous landscape. And he knows that he has not fond of them as a decorative motif, knows that only with these contacts between cinema and the people can do some real cinema.
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