Ma l'amor mio non muore

(But My Love Will Not Die)
   Film. With the possible exception of Giovanni Pastronei's Cabiria (1914), Ma I'amor mio non muore undoubtedly stands as the most famous of all Italian early silent films. Directed by Mario Caserini for Gloria Film in Turin in 1913, it starred Lyda Borelli, Mario Bonnard, and Gianpaolo Rosmino. Its plot was pure melodrama.
   In order to pay for his rich and idle lifestyle, the villainous young adventurer Moise Sthar undertakes to steal valuable military documents from the house of Col. Julius Holbein, head of the military forces of the Granduchy of Wallenstein. As part of his evil plan he courts the colonel's beautiful daughter, Elsa, and soon declares his love to her. Her acceptance of his suit furnishes him with the opportunity to take the documents and flee. When the theft is discovered the colonel is accused of treason and so, shamed and dishonored, he commits suicide. Suspected of complicity in the matter, Elsa is also banished from the realm. Alone and defenseless in a foreign land, she assumes a new identity and, as Diana Candouleur, embarks on a successful career as an opera singer. Having achieved great fame and fortune, she is courted by many but the sadness that continues to afflict her leads her to fall in love with a similarly sad and wistful young man who, unbeknown to all, is actually Prince Maximilien, son of the Grand Duke, traveling incognito and tarrying in warmer climes to recover from a serious illness. With neither of them knowing the other's true identity, the couple enjoy their idyll of love until one day the evil Sthar reappears, recognizes Elsa, and again declares his love for her. When she forcefully rejects his advances he promises to reveal all to the Grand Duke, who will undoubtedly recall the young prince and end the couple's relationship. Distraught, Elsa returns to the stage to give one last performance but only after having drunk a poison draft. As Elsa/Diana collapses on the stage, she is caught in the arms of Maximilien, who has thrown all to the winds just to be with her forever. As she dies, outstretched beneath his loving gaze, she whispers, "Ma I'amor mio non muore."
   With its elaborate sets, elegant, high-class costumes, and relatively assured photography, in addition to its unashamedly melodramatic story line, the film topped the Italian box office in 1913. It launched the short but brilliant career of Lyda Borelli and was instrumental in establishing her reputation as the foremost diva of the Italian screen, with her heavily stylized gestures and Pre-Raphaelite poses becoming the model for a whole generation of actresses that followed. The film's overwhelming success and its theme of dying for love also initiated a vogue for decadent sentimental melodramas in the D'Annunzian vein that would last into the early 1920s.
   Historical Dictionary of Italian Cinema by Alberto Mira

Guide to cinema. . 2011.

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