La Rosa di Bagdad

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The love story  between the young and  beautiful Princess Zeila and Amin, hampered by the evil Giafar and the magician Burk, unfolds in a mythical east  between heroic adventures and evil spells until the triumph of good and justice. Leading to the success  the first international feature film Italian animation and first color film of our country, which was awarded in 1949 at the  Festival of the Children  of the 10th International Art Exhibition Film Festival in Venice.

Participation in The Rose of Baghdad is a fundamental experience for Libico Maraja , a moment of profound artistic maturation intended to characterize all subsequent production, as well as the first real chance of success on the national and international scene. His  presence is constant  from 1941 to 1945, decisive years from the creative point of view, after these years  the film can be said to be almost finished. When Anton Gino Domeneghini was forced to leave the advertising industry , hit by a deep crisis as a result of the worsening fascist censorship and the continuation of the conflict, he decides to embark on the road of animation to produce a feature-length cartoons, Maraja is already at the IMA Advertising as a graphic artist. The contacts with the company of Milan date back to the autumn of 1940 and lead us to suppose  that the artist must have sensed the birth of a new and ambitious project and has taken part since the beginning, taking part in the planning stage. Hired as an animator, during the work in progress  gets the role of main director to stage design. The same Libico Maraja tells:

«After a few months of working, Domeneghini , who saw the big picture , he turned to Nicola Benois , designer of La Scala Theatre and a man of European significance. Benois , however , there came a time or two and then gave up . In the same time he was hired Mario Zampini , set designer and illustrator who was also him at La Scala. But the scenes of Zampini were too imposing and pompous to serve in a film like ours. So I decided to try my own way:  outside of my working time I painted the scenes as I felt them, and I showed to  Bioletto and Pedrocchi who was then director of production. They liked my scenes so much that  I changed my specialization.»

The artist is one of the most ready to absorb the lessons of Disney trend, and he  decided to investigate the potential of animation by studying with Gildo Gusmaroli and Mariano Leone the  reel of  Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs that   Domeneghini had managed to procure.
Fundamental point of reference in addition of Walt Disney was  the theater: the theatrical world in which the Maraja is formed is not lyrical , but rather that of the comedies organized by the Italian House of Lugano with friends, based on improvisation , jokes and spirit , the disguises and a direct relationship with the audience. The confidence with the theater, for which Maraja during the thirties created sets , costumes and worked  as an actor and singer, determines also the  mastery of space scenic and a specific estrus that accrued during the filming of The Rose of Baghdad. This experience will  make unmistakable his illustrations of classics for children.

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