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Lyda Borelli

Borellismo was a word used in Italy in the teens to describe the Lyda Borelli craze. Girls went on diets and strove to imitate her twisted postures. She was like a decadent version of the Pre-Raphaelite beauty--thin, with wavy blond hair and strange but picturesque poses. She portrayed characters who were doomed and otherworldly, often bordering on the supernatural. Her Rapsodia Satanica (1915), a compelling film about an old woman who makes a pact with the Devil for eternal youth, is an splendid introduction to this fascinating star. She was also one of the divas featured in Peter Delpeut's film Diva Dolorosa (1999) and an extended sequence from Fior de Male appeared in his earlier film Lyrisch Nitraat (AKA Lyrical Nitrate) (1991)

On the Web

Article on Borelli on "Italia Donna" (in Italian)

The Internet Movie Database filmography

Silent Films Available on Video

Ma L'amor Mio non Muore! (1913)

Available from Amazon
A great print with Italian and English intertitles and two scores.

Rapsodia Satanica (1915)

The beautiful tinted print of this is currently available on YouTube, where it's playing hide and seek with the YouTube police and gets pulled down periodically. If the link doesn't work you can probably search it

Malombra (1917)

On YouTube

A video version accompanied the book Sperduto nel buio (Bologna : Cappelli, 1991), now out of print

Fior de Male (1915)

on the Eye Film Player

It starts about 16 minutes into this fashion-themed compilation

Una notte a Calcutta (Fragment) (1918)

On YouTube

Further Reading

Angela Dalle Vacche. Diva : defiance and passion in early Italian cinema. Austin : University of Texas Press, 2008.

Unsung Divas

©2001, by Greta de Groat. All Rights Reserved

Last revised November 15, 2022