Monday, March 19, 2012

Film review: I, Don Giovanni

Genre: Period drama
Directed by: Carlos Saura
Starring: Lorenzo Balducci, Lino Guanciale, Emilia Verginelli, Tobias Moretti, Ennio Fantastichini.
Music by: Nicola Tescari.
Realised in: 2009
Running time: 127 minutes

I, Don Giovanni is a 2009 film by Carlos Saura; this film represents the libertine life of the most famous Venetian opera librettist and poet, Lorenzo Da Ponte, and compares his life to the one of Don Giovanni. This character was inspired by the one in Tirso de Molina’s El Burlador de Sevilla y el convidado de piedra, who is one of the most interesting and revisited characters in the history of theatre.

The film is set in Venice in 1763 when the Inquisition obliged priests to baptize converted Hebrews, among these is Lorenzo Da Ponte. Firstly, he escapes from the church, but then he becomes an abbot. His best friend, Casanova, teaches him to live a frivolous life: attending banquets, making love to many different girls, etc. Moreover, he uses his ability in writing to criticize the Church and the Inquisition. Because of this unregulated life, Lorenzo da Ponte is exiled, and he moves to Vienna, a more modern city. Here he meets a lot of famous singers and musicians such as Ferrarese, Cavalieri, Salieri and Mozart. Thanks to Joseph II, Lorenzo collaborates with Mozart in the realization of a lot of operas, among them the most important is Don Giovanni. Will this work change Lorenzo's view of life and love?

Music, scenes and costumes are very well done in Saura’s film version. The lyrical music, together with the painted scenes of theatrical operas, provide the right background to the film. Moreover, the use of XVI century Venetian costumes manages to recreate the atmosphere of that epoch and that place.

The cast is mainly composed of Italian actors among whom we have Leonardo Balducci, whose talent can be appreciated in the extraordinary central role of Lorenzo Da Ponte. The Venetian opera librettist has been compared to the character of Don Giovanni: both Lorenzo and Don Giovanni lead a frivolous and lewd life, but Lorenzo will distinguish himself from Don Giovanni by choosing love. It is probably the happy ending of this film version which has contributed to its extraordinary success.

Eleonora Giacoppo

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