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I, Don Giovanni

Carlos Saura
Io, Don Giovani
Italy, Spain, Austria 2009 / 127’

Venice, 1763. Lorenzo da Ponte (Lorenzo Balducci), a converted Jew, priest, and libertine, is condemned by the Inquisition to 15 years of exile for debauchery and concubinage. A fan of his literary talent and amorous conquests, Giacomo Casanova (Tobias Moretti) comes to his rescue and sends him off to Vienna to be watched over by Antonio Salieri. There, da Ponte meets Mozart (Lino Guanciale), and they get to work on the libretto for the opera Don Giovanni. The film is a variation on the story of how that opera was made, which was created as much on the basis of Molière's Don Juan as it was on da Ponte's real-life sexual conquests. Stylized to resemble 17th-century painting, the cinematography for I, Don Giovanni, which is a work of art in its own right, is the work of Vittorio Storaro, a three-time Oscar winner who also worked with Bertolucci and Coppola. The Italian-Spanish-Austrian co-production was dedicated to cinematographer Julio Madurda, another of Saura's longtime collaborators, who passed away in 2008.

Adam Kruk

Carlos Saura

Born in Aragon, Carlos Saura comes from a family with rich artistic traditions (his mother was a pianist and his brother a painter), a fact that had an impact on Saura's interests and erudition. He completed his studies in Film Direction in 1957 in Madrid-where he also studied Engineering and Journalism-with the documentary La tarde del domingo (Sunday Afternoon). Then, combining the traditions of documentary and feature films, he made The Delinquents, and his 1966 film The Hunt launched a nearly 20-year period of collaboration with producer Elías Querejeta, which provided him with relative creative freedom under the dictatorship of General Franco. During this period, Saura primarily made psychological and family dramas that were camouflaged in how they related to the political situation on the Iberian Peninsula. Marked by lyricism and dream states and drawing on Spanish literature (Calderon, Sender, Lorca) and painting (Ribeiro, Murillo, Goya), Saura's films are highly original auteur works. Saura is also a master of dance and musical films, examples of which include his operatic Salome and Carmen and his ballet starring Cristina Hojos and Antonio Gades, Blood Wedding.

Selected filmography

1959 Los golfos / The Delinquents

1966 Polowanie / La caza / The Hunt

1973 Anna i wilki / Ana y los lobos / Anna and the Wolves

1982 Słodkie godziny / Dulces horas / Sweet Hours

1998 Tango

2009 Ja, Don Giovanni / Io, Don Giovani / I, Don Giovanni

Cast & Crew

director Carlos Saura
screenplay Carlos Saura, Raffaello Uboldi, Alessandro Vallini
cinematography Vittorio Storaro
editing Julia Juaniz
music Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (conductor: Nicola Tescari)
cast Lorenzo Balducci, Lino Guanciale, Tobias Moretti, Emilia Verginelli, Francesca Inaudi, Sergi Roca
producer Andrea Occhipinti, Andrés Vicente Gómez, Igor Uboldi
production Intervenciones Novo Film, AIE., Radio Plus, Edelweiss Production
Polish distributor Vivarto
language Italian, German
colouration colour