I must correct a mistake that I made and widespread. On the 1996 Spring issue of Animation Journal I published an essay entitled The Italians Who Invented the Drawn-On-Film Technique. The brothers Bruno and Arnaldo Ginanni Corradini, from Ravenna, had been vaguely credited of having invented the technique of drawing and painting on the film strip. They had made some abstract films and chromatic music experiments in the years 1910-1912.
The copies had disappeared, probably with no hope of rescuing them. The word “vaguely” doesn’t sound good to any historian, so I set out to find and check the source of information. I wrote then:
“The only source we can relate to [about the making of such abstract films as Accordo di colore (Colors’ Chord); Studio di effetti tra quattro colori (Study of effects between four colors); Les Fleurs (from the namesake poem of Stéphane Mallarmé)] is a chapter in a volume called Il pastore, il gregge e la zampogna (The Shepherd, the Flock, and the Bagpipe), edited by Bruno Corra and Emilio Settimelli and published in 1912 in Bologna by Libreria L. Beltrami”.
I still agree with what I wrote in 1996, except the title of the quoted book. The actual title is L’esilio di D’Annunzio e il “San Sebastiano” (D’Annunzio’s Exile and the “Saint Sebastian”).
Why this mistake? When I originally studied the case, I borrowed, from the Sormani Library of Milan, the book that previous scholars had mentioned (The Shepherd, the Flock, and the Bagpipe). The copy had been rebound, and the new heavy cardboard cover bore the same title.
Something should have alarmed me. The frontispiece was slightly larger and more detailed: “…Il pastore, il gregge e la zampogna” (divagazioni sul libro del Thovez), in English “The Shepherd, the Flock and the Bagpipe” – Detours on Thovez’ Book. But the two editors were twenty (Corra) and twenty-one (Settimelli) years old, so I imputed the inaccuracy to young age inexperience.
Nothing changed until May 2019, when I was as lucky as to find the book in an antique bookshop – and bought it. The copy was in excellent conditions, and the cover in original, light cardboard. The title was L’esilio di D’Annunzio e il “San Sebastiano” (D’Annunzio’s Exile and the “Saint Sebastian”).
On the other side of the cover page, a few lines explained: “We changed the cover indication when this book was going to be distributed, in order to avoid any confusion with Enrico Thovez’ work. This explains why cover and frontispiece don’t match”. In other words, the two editors had had a twenty-fifth-hour afterthought, had stripped the book of its cover, and had left everything else untouched, including the frontispiece. The copy I had used in 1996 had probably been collected coverless, and rebound using the frontispiece title.
I am conscious that this rigamarole
did not deserve the time the reader spent to get to this point. I am sorry. But
at least the future scholars will have a headache less.
Giannalberto Bendazzi is the author of Animazione – Una storia globale (Utet 2018), originally published in the USA as Animation – A World History (CRC 2016). His previously best-known work was Cartoons, a World History published in many languages. A film critic and historian, he has been studying animation since age 19 (he is now 72). In 2001, he edited Alexeieff, Itinéraire d’un maître – Itinerary of a Master, dedicated to one of the great masters of avant-garde cinema. The book on Quirino Cristiani, the director of the first animated feature films, was published in Italian, Spanish and English. He extensively lectured on all continents and taught at the Università degli Studi di Milano (2002-2009) and at the Nanyang Technological University of Singapore (2013-2015). A founding member of the Society for Animation Studies (1987), he was also an adjunct professor at the Griffith University of Brisbane. Giannalberto Bendazzi wrote books on live-action cinema, too: on Woody Allen and Mel Brooks.
 Enrico Thovez (Turin, 1869 – Turin, 1925) was a poet, painter, and literary critic. In 1910 he published the influential The Shepherd, the Flock, and the Bagpipe – From the Hymn to Satan to the Laus Vitae, giving voice to the current intolerance towards the poets of the previous generation, especially towards Carducci and D’Annunzio.