In honor of Guarino Guarini’s birth on today’s date in 1624, watch the film Dal Borromini al Guarini (1976), conceived by the architectural historian Paolo Marconi, directed by Vittorio Armentano for the Enciclopedia dell’arte italiana, and available on the Archivio Storico Istituto Luce / Cinecittà website.
Viewed from 2013, the voice-over narration of the fifty-minute documentary seems to emerge from a historiographic time capsule forgotten long ago. The images, however, include rare views of the apex of the Cappella della Sindone cupola, and they document the condition of several buildings (including San Lorenzo and the Palazzo Carignano) before the restoration campaigns of recent decades.
The film’s most egregious error confuses Guarini’s unexecuted church project for the Padri Somaschi in Messina with his executed facade of the Santissima Annunziata there, destroyed in the tragic earthquake of 1908 (15:45). And the script presents some puzzles: Borromini’s San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane is missing entirely, and Bernini plays no role whatsoever in the story line. The film is truly a “figlio del suo tempo,” as the narrator remarks about Guarini (16:50). Occasionally instructive or compelling images still make it well worth watching, though, and it is an interesting exercise in presenting Baroque architecture to a general audience.
Buildings featured, with position in minutes: Sant’Ivo alla Sapienza (0:55); Cappella della Sindone (6:30); San Lorenzo (11:15); Collegio di Propaganda Fide (18:45); Oratorio dei Filippini (21:00); urban project for San Martino al Cimino (23:06); San Giovanni in Laterano (24:13); Palazzo Carpegna (27:00); Palazzo Carignano (29:34); Collegio dei Nobili (35:00); Guarinian influences in Bohemia (37:00); Municipio, Bra (38:20); Santa Chiara, Bra (39:28); Santuario della Visitazione, Vallinotto (44:00); Mole Antonelliana (47:15); Basilica di Superga (49:07); Sant’Agnese in Agone (50:30).