1971

 

Casanova

Gondolas in Venice Copyright Dave Evans 2004

 

 

Title: Casanova

 

Transmission Info:

Casanova was transmitted on BBC 2 as a six-part serial on the following dates:
      Episode 1  Entitled "Steed in the stable"  16 November 1971 at 9.25 p.m. Duration c. 57 mins.
      Episode 2  Entitled "One at a time"         23 November 1971 at 9.21 p.m. Duration c. 56 mins.

      Episode 3  Entitled "Magic moments"     30 November 1971 at 9.22 p.m. Duration c. 55 mins.

      Episode 4  Entitled "Window, window"       7 December 1971 at 9.23 p.m. Duration c. 48 mins.

      Episode 5  Entitled "Fevers of love"        14 December 1971 at 9.21 p.m. Duration c. 52 mins.

      Episode 6  Entitled "Golden apples"        21 December 1971 at 9.23 p.m. Duration c. 58 mins.
         

A re-edited two programme version of Casanova was repeated on BBC2 on 9 and 10 September 1974, the programmes lasting 97 and 99 mins respectively.

 

Cast

 

Actor (Core Cast) Character
Frank Finlay
Casanova
Norman Rossignton
Lorenzo
Christine Noonan
Barberina
Zenia Merton
Christina

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Episode 1 ~ Steed in the Stable
Victor Baring
Messer Grande
George Benson
Uncle
Geoffrey Wincott
Senator Bragadin
Christopher Hancock
Circospetto
Ronald Adam
Senior Inquisitor
Peter Sherwood
Inquisitor
Aubrey Danvers-Walker
Inquisitor
Igor Silic
Carlo
Basil Clarke
Dr. Bellotti

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Episode 2 ~ One at a Time
David Swift
Valenglart
Ania Marson
Anne Roman-Coupier
Patrick Newell
Schalon
Elaine Donnelly
Helena
Arthur Pentelow
Caretaker
Julia Cornelius
Rose
Brigid Erin Bates
Manon
Caroline Dowdeswell
Anna
Oliver Butterworth
Concert master

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Episode 3 ~ Magic Moments
Lynn Yeldham
Genoveffa
Frederick Peisley
Capitani
Hugh Portnow
Pantalone
Rowan Wylie
Colombina
Tim Thomas
Arlecchino
Emil Wolk
Il Capitano
Christopher Martin
Man with knife
Caroline Dowdeswell
Anna
Brigid Erin Bates
Manon
Julia Cornelius
Rose
Ania Marson
Anne Roman-Coupier
Patrick Newell
Schalon

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Episode 4 ~ Window, Window
Jean Holness
Mme Morin
Simon Barclay
Damiens
Richard Dennis
Tiretta
Claire Davenport
Mme Lenoir
Jo Anderson
La Lambertini
Sara Benfield
Mlle de la Mare
Norman Tyrrell
Man in Coach
Norman McGlen
Violinist
Sue Bond
Whore
Enid Burton
Whore
Julie Desmond
Whore
David Swift
Valengart
Victor Baring
Messer Grande
Tim Thomas
Arlecchino
Rowan Wylie
Colombina
Lynn Yeldham
Genoveffa
Caroline Dowdeswell
Anna
Brigid Erin Bates
Manon
Julia Cornelius
Rose
Ania Marson
Anne Roman-Coupier
Patrick Newell
Schalon

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Episode 5 ~ Fevers of Love
Valerie Gearon
Pauline
Norman Rossington
Mr Hart
Gillian Brown
Nun
Lyn Turner
Streetcrier 
Lynn Yeldham
Genoveffa
Caroline Dowdeswell
Anna
Brigid Erin Bates
Manon
Julia Cornelius
Rose
Ania Marson
Anne Roman-Coupier
Patrick Newell
Schalon

Episode 6 ~ Golden Apples
Valerie Gearon
Pauline
Lynn Yeldham
Genoveffa
Caroline Dowdeswell
Anna
Brigid Erin Bates
Manon
Julia Cornelius
Rose
Ania Marson
Anne Roman-Coupier
Graham Crowden
Feldkirchner
Gillian Hills
Caroline
John Ringham
Dr Rapp
Roger Hammond
Father Balbi

Source: Gilbert 1995: 338-9

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Crew

Costume
John Bloomfield
Make-up
Pam Meager
 
Eileen Mair
 
Penny Bell
Sound recordists
John Murphy
 
Derek Medus
 
Colin March
 
Basil Harris
Film cameramen
Ken Westbury
 
John Wyatt
 
Stewart Farnell
Film editor
Graham Bunn
Studio sound
Chick Anthony
Studio lighting
Dave Sydenham
Video editor
Ron Bowman
Designer
Peter Seddon
Producer
Mark Shivas
Director (Episodes 1, 2 & 4)
John Glenister
Director (Episodes 3, 5 & 6)
Mark Cullingham
Writer Dennis Potter

Source: Gilbert 1995: 338-9

Plot

Potter's version of the life of Giacomo Casanova revolves centrally around his arrest, imprisonment and escape from captivity in Venice in 1755 and the years after. But this basic narrative is interspersed with continual flashbacks and flashforwards in order to offer us Potter's insight into the deeper significance of the play - Casanova's search for freedom and spiritual fulfilment.

Potter conceived the project of Casanova whilst working as a book reviewer for The Times several years before the play was transmitted. He came across a new translation of Casanova's memoirs and felt that the subject matter of Casanova's life might prove an interesting basis for a dramatic interpretation. Potter claimed not to have read the memoirs, though, and so his version of events is a subjective and esoteric one, albeit based on the basic biographical markers. His "play in six parts" concentrates on Casanova's arrest, imprisonment within and escape from the "Leads" - the prison cells of the Doge's Palace in Venice.


Bridge of Sighs - between the Doge's Palace and the cells, Venice:

The opening scenes of Episode 1 see Giacomo Casanova arrested at the hands of Messe Grande and his officers whilst in the midst of an amorous encounter with the superbly-breasted Barbarina (Christine Noonan). Casanova is described as "an impious and devilish libertine" in whom "sacrilege, lasciviousness, voluptuousness, imposture, fraud and heresy are so evilly mixed". In justifying his imprisonment, the Inquisition expresses its intention that, "by being put away alone under the roof of the Leads, the impious libertine will have cause to reflect on his wickedness, and amend it."

And so Casanova begins his lengthy period of incarceration, punished and humiliated at the skilful and mischievous hands of his jailer, Lorenzo.

He is, indeed, given every opportunity to reflect but there is little by way of amendment to his chosen lifestyle. He reminisces continuously over his many former conquests and Potter allows him to "remember forwards" over the conquests still to come. Throughout all this, Casanova luxuriates in his conviction that every opportunity should be taken in life to experience every emotion and passion to the full. As to his current "conviction", he attempts at every stage to escape it and return to the passions he yearns for.

Ultimately we see the end result of his escape attempts as he roams freely, at last, on the roofs of the Doge's Palace, overlooking the glorious spectacle of the buildings of Venice.

Casanova ends his days as the Librarian at the castle of German aristocrat Count Waldstein where he attempts to record his amorous adventures in written form.

 

Reviews

 

IMDB review page - review by Bhob Stewart

Banks-Smith, N. (1971) Review, Guardian, 17 November, p. 10
Dunkley, C. (1971) Review,
The Times, 22 December, p. 10
Norman, B (1971) Review, The Times, 17 November, p. 14

 

Comment

Casanova, at first sight, appears as a BBC costume drama based on the life of a man whose very name has become a byword in contemporary culture for sexual immorality and promiscuity.

Potter's portrayal, however, goes deeper and examines the deep-seated tensions in Casanova between a search for spiritual fulfilment (evidenced primarily in the search for sexual fulfilment) and the constratints within which he finds himself bound - the sexual mores of the time imposed by a quasi-religious hegemony. In an interview with Philip Oakes for a 1971 article in The Sunday Times, Potter describes Casanova as "a man hunted by what he is hunting - and that is freedom, expressed in sexual terms." (cited in Cook 1998:152) Casanova's sexual encounters bring him pleasure but not satisfaction.

Frank Finlay was nominated for the 1972 BAFTA Awards for his portrayal of Casanova.

Links

Casanov DVD coverA DVD of the six part series is now available from the BBC here,
or from Amazon.co.uk here

 

 

Conceived, written, launched and maintained by Dave Evans.

Most recent update 21st January 2005

Website  copyright Dave Evans 1994 - 2005

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