Un chapeau de paille d'Italie
René Clair – known for his Dada film Entr' acte (1924) – became internationally famous with his comedy Un chapeau de paille d'Italie, a mix of slapstick and social satire about events involving a straw hat on a wedding day. The 4K restoration of this silent film is introduced by Céline Ruivo, curator of the Cinémathèque Française.
On his wedding day of all days, Fadinard’s horse eats a straw hat which belongs to Anais de Beauperthuis, a married woman on a tryst with her secret lover. She is simply unable to return home without her hat, a personal gift from her husband. Her lover threatens to wreck Fadinard’s home if he fails to produce the hat. Clair only needed this simple storyline for his sprightly tale of love’s labyrinthine ways.
René Clair (1898-1981) is regarded as one of the pioneers of European cinema. He worked with modernist artists such as Marcel Duchamp, Man Ray and Francis Picabia (Entr’ acte) and managed to combine his penchant for the surreal with humoristic storytelling. Clair successfully united modernity and tradition in such films as Sous les toits de Paris (1930), Le million (1931), À nous la liberté (1931) and Le silence est’ d’or ( 1947), which were hailed by the public as ingenious samples of ‘modern cinema’ and as a humorous commentary on the lives of ordinary people.
The film will be introduced by Céline Ruivo, Head of Film Collections of the Cinémathèque Française.
The Cinémathèque and San Francisco Silent Film Festival supervised the 4K restoration of the film in 2016. For the first time since 1928, Un chapeau de paille d'Italie can now be viewed in its complete form, with musical accompaniment by Raymond Alessandrini and the Octuor de France.