This Majors-only deck pays tribute not to movies, but the "Cinema," filmmaking as art form. Therefore, only a few cards are devoted to famous Hollywood actors; others are based on a particular movie or director. One person I would have expected to see in this deck is Jerry Lewis, although its the French, not the Italians, who worship him as a genius. I envisioned him as the Fool, but the role is filled out by the three most famous Marx Brothers: Groucho, Harpo, and Chico. The imagery is delightful: a leering Groucho does an awkward jete against a sunny background, supported by his mugging brothers.
The High Priestess is perfectly illustrated by Garbos signature line ("I want to be alone."). The card itself is less successful. The top image is Garbos face in monochromatic profile and would be very effective if it were not for the illustration below: a scantily-clad Garbo in "Mata Hari," with a large man menacingly looming behind her. This doesnt seem representative of the High Priestess to me. Marlene Dietrich is a dashing Empress, but Im not used to seeing that particular archetype in motion. The Emperor is played by Eric Von Stroheim looking appropriately anal, but like many of the cards there is a disconcerting smaller image on the bottom; this one has yet another scantily-clad woman strutting down the steps, trailing bountiful amounts of marabou in her wake.
One of the most dramatic and powerful cards is The Lovers, which shows Rudolph Valentino as the Sheik, embracing a woman so passionately that the heat practically emanates off the cardboard. The bottom image of the Sheik riding the desert sands would be annoying if you noticed it, but the main image is so compelling that you dont.
The Wheel card is cleverly based on 2001: A Space Odyssey and shows the spoked wheels hurling into a midnight starred sky. From far away, it also looks ironically like a movie reel.
Another powerful image and effective correspondence includes Strength as King Kong, towering over a vulnerable cityscape. The little icon at the bottom is even more affecting--the ape clutching a woman in his huge paws, toying with her. Death is a perfectly macabre image from The Seventh Seal.
My favorite card is the Moon, which uses Beauty and the Beast for its inspiration. Themes of betrayal and deception are traditional keywords and they are brilliantly evoked by the imagery and our collective memory of the tale.
Other images are very attractive, but not very clearly a good match for the chosen
Major. Marilyn Monroe is a glamourous Star, but lacks the pristine
purity of the archetype. Justice as Alfred Hitchcock is artistically striking, but I
dont get the correlation. The Chariot is titled "Ombre
Rosse (The Indian)," but the stagecoach trailing dust in its wake seems less vital
than John Wayne as lawman, caressing his rifle. The "Red Man" is nowhere to be
The cards are longer and thinner than standard Tarot cards. The backs are monochrome and I dont recognize the man who bedecks them. His face and bowtie are shown back-to-back (okay, neck to neck), like some playing card jokers.
Tarocchi Del Cinema comes in a slim package with a shiny mauve marbleized cardboard slipsleeve. There is no little white book to tell you whos who, and if you dont have a strong background in film, as I dont, you wont necessarily recognize all the movie references.
This deck is a graphic delight for the eyes and I recommend it for Tarot collectors, particularly those who are also film buffs. I may not "get" Alfred Hitchcock as Justice, but the card "arrests" me anyway.
Review Copyright 1999 Diane Wilkes
Images Copyright 1995 Lo Scarabeo