Following his rather limited performance in ‘The Balloon Vendor’, child actor Renato Cestiè returns for his third outing in the genre, ‘White Horses of August’ (Export title: White Horses of Summer) this time supported by two stalwarts of high-brow (and low-brow) European cinema, Jean Seberg and Frederick Stafford. Tragically both actors died well before their time within a month of each other in the summer of 1979; Seberg was found dead from a suspected sleeping pill overdose in Paris and Stafford died in an aeroplane collision over a lake in Switzerland.
‘Bianchi Cavalli D’Agosto’ (1975) clearly boasts some very high production values and benefits greatly from being mostly shot on location in and around Gargano in the south of Italy. The script is surprisingly well-written and characters certainly appear well-rounded with some degree of depth. In short, this is everything ‘The Balloon Vendor’ isn’t in my humble opinion – and much closer to its original source of inspiration ‘The Last Snows of Spring’. The fact that both films were directed by Raimondo Del Balzo, who also died prematurely at the age of just 52, may explain a lot. Musician Franco Micalizzi, the go-to composer for the genre, delivers a rousing orchestral score which tugs at the heartstrings throughout and cinematographer Roberto D’Ettorre Piazzoli delivers some great shots of the beautiful Italian coastline and the ruins of Pompeii.
This time around Bunny (Renato Cestiè) is once again being cared for by two very dysfunctional parents. His father (Frederick Stafford) is a part-time alcoholic who laments the fact that he can’t communicate with his wife or his son, and his wife (Jean Seberg) fills that void by sleeping around with the people they meet on their travels. Feeling ignored, Bunny creates a fantasy world dominated by Arabian Knights who he dreams will one day carry him away from his boring existence.