Satan’s Rhapsody

© Ripley’s Film
Italy 1915, silent, 45’ | Director Nino Oxilio | Screenplay Alberto Fassini, Fausto Maria Martini | DoP Giorgio Ricci | Music Pietro Mascagni | Cast Lyda Borelli, Ugo Bazzini and others | Production Cines Roma | Contact Ripley’s Film

The aging diva Alba d’Oltrevita (Lyda Borelli) yearns for her lost youth and so swears a pact with the Devil. Mephisto will give her eternal life if she renounces love. However, the brothers Sergio and Tristano start to make overtures to Alba. Although she contemptuously spurns Sergio in all his passion, she wants Tristano. But when Sergio shoots himself, Alba feels remorse, even love, and is prepared to accept the transience of life.

Rapsodia Satanica (1915) is a variation on the Faust myth. Typical for the extravagant aestheticism of its time, the film is now rated as a milestone in the history of 1910s melodramas set in the salons and villas of the upper-middle classes and the aristocracy. With the narrative structures developed to put the spotlight on the actresses in particular, the result being that they became the earliest stars in the world of film.

Rapsodia Satanica will open the Film Allnighter.


Biography
LYDA BORELLI was one of the best-known divas of the Italian silent movie era. Born 1884 into a Genoese artist family, she made her stage debut at the age of 17. When she turned to film in 1913, she was already a celebrated actress – above all for her part as Splendore in La figlia di iorio by Gabriele D’Annunzio. With that film debut in Ma l’amor mio non muore, in which – like in all her roles – she embodied the sensuously beautiful but unapproachable woman, she enjoyed such a huge success that a personality cult broke out, with appellations such as »borellismo« or »borellegiare«. Her role in Rapsodia Satanica is considered her greatest acting success. In 1918, Lyda Borelli married and retired from the film business. She died in Rome in 1959.

»Lyda Borelli was the most ethereal. More motion art than moving photography … she oscillated between two of the preformulated erotic phantasms of decadence, namely, the femme fatale and the androgyne. Metallic, glistening, with large facial features and muscular throat, she really did on occasion come across as a transvestite …«
Mariann Lewinsky


Films with Lyda Borelli (Selection)
Per la vittoria e per la pace
| Malombra 1917 | Carnevalesca 1917 | La falena 1916 | Fior di male 1915 | La donna nuda 1914 | La memoria dell’ altro 1913


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Nino Oxilio
Italy
1915
Silent Film
2013
Focus: Exzess, Finally Back on the Silver Screen