The musician Wolo is in love with the beautiful peasant girl Anjuta. She is forced, by her stepmother who runs a speakeasy, to dance for the drunken guests of the tavern. Restored by The Swedish Film Institute in 2016.
A first preservation of Mauritz Stiller’s Balettprimadonnan was carried out in 1994, from a fragment of a tinted and toned nitrate print with Spanish intertitles found in Zaragoza, Spain. In 2015, the Filmoteca Espanola in Madrid identified a second fragment with Spanish intertitles of the film in its collections, originating from the same nitrate print, meaning that approximately half of the film has survived.
One of several early films by Stiller which has resurfaced in recent years, Balettprimadonnan depicts the story of a farmer’s daughter in love with a violinist of poor origins who convinces her family that she should audition for the ballet academy. Making her film debut playing the girl is Jenny Hasselquist, who at the time was actually engaged as a prima ballerina at the Royal Opera in Stockholm. Her main career would continue to be dance; she made only a handful more appearances in film (including Sjöström’s 1922 Vem dömer? (Love’s Crucible), screened at the 2017 Giornate). The violinist is played by Lars Hanson, also then a relative newcomer to the screen.
The Swedish Film Institute was granted access to the second fragment found in Madrid in order to make a new restoration. This was presented in 2016 at the Cinema Ritrovato festival in Bologna as a work-in-progress; the 1990s restoration was screened alongside samples of raw scans of the second fragment and examples of how the intertitles were going to be recreated, emulating the design and font of the original (which had not been done in the 1990s version). The restoration was completed later in 2016 and first presented at the Swedish Film Institute in Stockholm in October that year. This screening at Pordenone marks the first time the new restoration has been shown at any international festival.
The current version includes all the footage found in Zaragoza and Madrid, and all of the film’s intertitles. Copyright frames originating from the Library of Congress in Washington, DC, and stills from the collections of the Swedish Film Institute have been used to cover the missing footage, as well as a limited number of explanatory titles, with a neutral font and design to make them easily discernible from the re-created intertitles of the original. The colours have been re-created using the colours of the nitrate fragments as reference.
The second fragment found in Madrid also contained footage from the second reel of the film, including scenes where we get to see actress Jenny Hasselquist perform a ballet at the Royal Opera in Stockholm. This ballet sequence was toned, and had suffered severe decomposition due to chemical decomposition.
470MB | 36m 07s | 968×720 | mkv