(aka Fellini's Casanova)
This was all filmed on the Cinecitta soundstages
in Rome and so whilst the first half-hour in Venice is very Venetian, it's
also very papier-mâché. The opening scene features a bizarre imaginary
ceremony on the Grand Canal beside the Rialto Bridge, and with the campanile
of San Marco looming over, where the doge cuts a ribbon, a man flies down
from the campanile on a wire into the canal, and a metal sculpted head is
raised up. Donald Sutherland plays the man himself, dubbed into Italian and
then subtitled back at us. The film is based on Casanova's autobiographical
writings but liberties are taken, and it paints an unsympathetic picture of
the man as not so much a lover of women and a sex machine. Being late
Fellini it's all very lush and decadent and camp, but pretty enjoyable and
attention-holding on the whole. The sex is not very sexy, truth be told,
with shots of our hero's heaving upper body and sweaty face dominating and
not much nudity. So it's down to the strange stories, grotesque characters
and odd decor and costumes to keep us entertained. And they do.
Casanova TV 2005
Future Dr Who David Tennant plays a young Casanova in this stylish TV version, and
does it more authentically than Heath Ledger did in the other 2005 Casanova
below. As does Peter O'Toole too, as the clapped-out old Casanova here. But none of this version was shot in Venice.
And the CG Venice is notably fictional - see below right. Nina Sosanya,
Nickolas Grace and Tom Burke are in it too.
Not as bad as the reviews might have lead us to
believe, this is nonetheless a pretty light romp through a pretty standard
tale of love won and discussed. You know how it goes - the strong and
accomplished heroine who hides her light behind a male persona encounters
Casanova, thinks him a shallow and deceitful user of women who knows nought
of real love... There's lots of pretending to be who you're not and masks
and baroque music and standard-strength feminism. What you don't get is much
sex, despite the US 'R' rating - not even heaving bosoms let alone nipples
or bums. There's Jeremy Irons having a high old time camping it up as the
vicious inquisitor from Rome, though, and a good selection of reliable Brit thesps. It all has the feel of those swashbuckling Dick Lester Musketeer
films of the 70s. This one was filmed totally in Venice, but with copious
computer generation of, for example, gondola-filled distances and the city
by night from a hot-air balloon. Amongst the interior locations you might
notice the Scuola di San Rocco and the Doge's Palace. The exteriors include
a market set up on the Fondamenta della Misericordia, in front of the Nuove
Scuola Grande, a favourite spot of mine, and many film makers. Towards the end
there's also a hasty getaway from a gallows in St Mark's Square in a
horse-drawn carriage - has that ever been possible? It all looks very
handsome, as do the leads, and has quite a clever liberty-taking twist at
the end to confound all us smug types who might be thinking that our
knowledge of Casanova's later life might rob the end of the film of any
element of surprise.
Extras on the US DVD include a few documentaries. The
one about Venice, which lasts two and a half minutes, heavily features the
tasteful effect of a montage of stock photos of Venice sliding over the
tasteful background of an antique map
of ... Holland! There's a slightly more
interesting location report, and one quite interesting unused extra scene.
I've not watched the frock doc.
An Amazon-produced TV series pilot, this begins with
our hero escaping, pre-credits, from the Leads and fleeing to Paris. Not much Venetian content,
then - barely five minutes - but deserving of mention as it
contributes to the evolving contemporary mythmaking surrounding a Venetian
'hero', and it's directed by a big name: Jean-Pierre Jeunet, of Amelie, Alien:
Resurrection, The City of Lost Children and Delicatessen fame. The
Venetian scenes consist of the prison escape, with it's statutory panorama
of Venice from the roof, a stroll past the Doge's Palace, a manky campo, and
a gondola ride - not bad for five minutes and looking like real locations.
Then it's off to Paris, for a
feast of similarly lush locations and CGI, with wigs, silk, gilt scrollwork and bare breasts a-go-go. Casanova's thoughts in jail are in
Italian, with subtitles, but thereafter everyone speaks English, Casanova with an
Italian/Spanish accent and most of the French characters with very English accents.
Casanova is played by Diego Luna, best known as one of the boys in Y Tu Mamá También and
as Cassian Andor in both Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and the recent
Disney+ TV series. He is supported here mostly by Brits, usually little known but including
Miranda Richardson and Paul Rhys. The writing, acting and visual lushness
make it worth a watch. And we get the Casanova
with the brains and ambition, not just the one with the busy willy,
attempting to make something of himself through court intrigue and
manipulation. I'd watch more - further episodes were written but no more were made.
After this Jeunet didn't make another film until 2022.
Casanova & Co 1977
A 70s softcore take on the story of Casanova in
general, and Bob Hope's 1956 film Casanova's Big Night in particular
(featuring as it does an identical double), this time starring Tony Curtis.
A quick scan through is enough to reveal a film full of crap jokes, bad
acting, cheesy music, intrusive dubbing, cropped out bosoms (for the more
famous actresses anyway) and faked panting. More like an inferior Carry
On Casanova than anything a person would want to actually sit through.
What Curtis, Marisa Berenson, Victor Spinetti and Britt Ekland's agents were
thinking of is a mystery. The star gets to rub chests with naked
actresses, but presumably he got to do this pretty often in real life too.
Some Venetian location exteriors, including the church of San Trovaso, but
please don't make me watch any more. In America it was known as Some Like
it Cool, presumably to really piss Billy Wilder off.
Casanova TV 2005
Two from Casanova 2005
Two from Infanzia, vocazione ...
from Le Retour de Casanova
Infanzia, vocazione e prime esperienze di
Giacomo Casanova, veneziano (The Childhood, Vocation and First Experiences of
Giacomo Casanova, Venetian) 1969
The key word here is authentic. Based on his memoirs, this
film takes us from Casanova's childhood up to his renouncing his religious
training for the life of a libertine. It gives good and authentic Venice
from the start, also giving good gondola, with authentic period felze
trouble is also taken with lamp carriers and superstitions. There's a
realistic squalor, too, to the streets, the religious politics and to the
dubious doctors and their lethal operations. Which is not to say it doesn't
do opulence and grandeur later on. It's qualities make it hard to understand
why it was never released in English - the subtitles for the copy I
found are amateur but acceptable, and were only created in December 2012.
The older Casanova of the second half of the film is played by Leonard
Whiting who was Zeffirelli's Romeo. There's also a dubbed Wilfred
Bramble, aka Albert Steptoe, as Senator Malpiero; with Lionel Stander, an old face most
well-known as Hart to Hart's Max, as a priest. The interior used for
the church of San Samuele isn't the actual church (see screen grab below
but if it's just a set it's a handsome piece of work. As is this film, and
its obscurity is very not deserved.
The subtitling may lack elegance and clarity in places,
but it makes up for this with my favourite witch's spell in a long time, to cure
Giacomo of his nose bleeds...
cat and sorceress
colour of hard bread,
dried in a shed
sweat of matchmaker and fat of grasshopper
teeth of a frog and hairs of a hog
will soon make the chow that the blood will disallow
and it works!
Le Retour de Casanova 1992
This French film is an excuse for a grey-haired
Alain Delon to play the older Casanova - not an unusual fate for heartthrob
actors later in their careers. It's mostly set in a French chateau (near
Montpellier) as Casanova gets involved in some characteristic amorous
jiggery-pokery, whilst waiting to find out if he can return to Venice yet,
following his earlier banishment. There's only a brief few minutes of a dour
gondola reacquaintance with Venice filmed in actual Venice. The copy I found
online has some amateurish subtitles, presumably because the film never got
a release in the UK or US.