Festival Lumière: the prancing Casanova by Volkoff given to music by the national orchestra of Lyon


WE WERE THERE – Astonishing experience in the auditorium, the national orchestra of the capital of Gaul performed live a new original score composed by Günter Buchwald to accompany this frenzied film-concert which was sold out.

What a victory for all cinema enthusiasts to see the 1,500 seats in the city’s auditorium filled with spectators who came to attend the screening of a silent film from … 1927!

Finally, it is perhaps only at the Lumière Festival in Lyon that we can witness this kind of cinephilic miracle. While Thierry Frémaux, accompanied by Frédéric Bonnaud director of the Cinémathèque Française presented together this exceptional film-concert session, the musicians of the national orchestra of Lyon were finishing tuning their instruments.

the Casanova by Alexandre Vokoff is one of the favorite films of the founder of the French Cinémathèque Henri Langlois

Frédéric bonnaud

Frédéric Bonnaud first recalled during this gala evening that Alexandre Volkoff’s “Casanova” was “One of the favorite films of the founder of the Cinémathèque française Henri LangloisFor a good and simple reason. “When Langlois founded the Cinémathèque in 1936, he explained, the Albatross company of white Russian Alexandre Volkoff, based in Montreuil, had already collapsed, with the switch from silent cinema to talking cinema. And the Russians of Albatross were the first to give all their films to Langlois so that they wouldn’t disappear.

The national orchestra of Lyon plays the new score by Günter Buchwald on the silent film “Casanova” by Alexandre Volkoff (1927). © Festival Lumière 2021

The film, which lasts 2:07, was first restored in 1986 by Jean Renoir’s editor, Renée Lichtig. She almost made it a “duty of filial memory” because her mother of Russian origin had one day danced with the actor playing Casanova, Ivan Mosjoukine (1889-1939).

The Casanova by Alexandre Volkoff, with Ivan Mosjoukine and Diana Karenne. Light Festival © 2021

The version presented in 2021 in Lyon is special in that it benefits from a new restoration. “We found better quality copies, specifies Bonnaud. And especially with regard to the famous passage of the carnival of Venice tinted with stenciled colors.

A nod to the music of James Bond

But this film-concert session would not have been unforgettable if the conductor Günter Buchwald had not composed new music specially dedicated for the occasion. Performed live by the national orchestra of Lyon, it gives a frenzied tempo to this film. Fast-paced, funny, the Casanova played by Ivan Mosjoukine spends his life running, fleeing or seducing women, between Venice, Austria and Saint Petersburg. What health !

At times the film recalls the Napoleon of Abel Gance and we understand why: Volkoff was his assistant and Gance’s film was released the same year as this Casanova.

The original poster of “Casanova” by Alexandre Volkoff. Light Festival © 2021

Through its visual audacity, its modernity, and a certain decadent Venetian atmosphere, the film prefigures the Casanova by Fellini with the sulphurous Donald Sutherland released in 1976. But throughout the screening, the new score imagined by Buchwald has fun with the spectator by paying tribute twice to Vivaldi … and even allowing itself a little wink. eye to the music of the James Bond, when Casanova jumps from a stage coach in the middle of a race. ️

At the end of the evening, the public will have applauded wildly … Finally, nothing but very logical to weave parallels between James Bond and Casanova: both embody the Alpha and the Omega of seduction in the collective imagination.

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