LA GUERRA ED EL SOGNO DI MOMI (1917)
aka War and Momi's Dream
Directed by Segundo de Chomon and Giovanni Pastrone
Featuring Guido Petrungaro, Alberto Nepoti, Valentina Frascaroli
What it is: War, human and puppet styles
After hearing a war story, a young boy who likes playing with his toy soldiers Trik and Trak falls asleep and dreams that his toys gather armies and go to war.
This is the last directorial effort of the great Segundo de Chomon, and I must admit that he went out with an ambitious effort. The movie is in two parts. The first features a live-action war story about a young boy who tries to save his mother from enemy soldiers; I'm assuming this half of the movie is the work of co-director Pastrone. The second half is the dream sequence with the stop-motion puppets, and though moments of this sequence seem inspired by events in the earlier story, it goes off in a different and fairly elaborate direction. On top of the toys coming to life, this sequence also has a super-cannon to add to the fantastic content, as well as a sequence where one of the toys escapes a trap by taking himself apart piece by piece and then reassembling himself. The most impressive sequence has a town being destroyed by an invasion from the air; there's some very nice miniature work here. It's an interesting short, but I'm not quite sure if there's any point to the work as a whole; the first half concentrates on action and thrills, while the second half jumps back and forth between being comic and serious. Perhaps the answer lies in the title cards, but my copy is in Italian without an English translation. However, I really suspect that the title cards aren't really necessary; it's possible to appreciate the spectacle without them.