From Dina Iordanova (Professor Emerita, University of St Andrews Film Studies):
My last trip before what has since become a protracted lockdown, was to Venice. This was in February 2020, the weather was perfect and there was no trace of illness in the air. I stayed on the chic island of Lido where the film festival takes place, passing daily by the famous Hotel des Bains where Luchino Visconti’s Death in Venice was set, an enormous Art Deco building now sadly closed and boarded up.
So, even if I believe there is too much written and filmed about Venice and it is not a topic that I think I ought to spend much time on, I have since frequently returned in my memories to these calm moments before the disruption. I sought to re-watch Venice-set films, such as Nicholas Roeg’s Don’t Look Now (1973), Lech Majewski’s The Garden of Earlthy Delights (2004), and Silvio Soldini’s Pane e tulipani (2005). In the course of doing this, I discovered several important early cinematic representations of Venice that are easily accessible on-line, so I thought to put together this short nostalgic playlist, FYI.
Venice 1896 (Lumiere Brothers)
What might be the oldest footage available of the city is available on YouTube:
WENECJA, 5 min, 1929
VENEZIA MINORE 16 min, 1940
A rare gem, this 1940 documentary by revered Venetian director Francesco Pasinetti, who passed at the age of 38. Shot mainly in Dorsoduro and la Giudecca, it feels as if one is in a Giorgio de Chirico painting.
Giro Turistico Senza Guida/ Unguided Tour aka Letter from Venice (Susan Sontag, 70 min, 1983)
A literary-philosophical meditation on the heels of the classic voyage to Italy, this film was directed by American Susan Sontag, one of her several attempts at filmmaking. Starring dancer Lucinda Childs and actor Claudio Cassinelli as a couple wandering through Venice, it was produced by the Italian national broadcasting company (RAI), for the series “Per un viaggio in Italia”.