cin18.jpg (16786 bytes)Tarocchi Del Cinema/Tarots of the Movies - Review by Diane Wilkes

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 it’s 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 Garbo’s signature line ("I want to be alone."). The card itself is less successful. The top image is Garbo’s 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 doesn’t seem representative of the High Priestess to me. Marlene Dietrich is a dashing Empress, but I’m 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 don’t.

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 don’t 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 found.

The cards are longer and thinner than standard Tarot cards. The backs are monochrome and I don’t 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 who’s who, and if you don’t have a strong background in film, as I don’t, you won’t 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.

0 - Il Matto (Marx Brothers)
1 - Il Mago (The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari)
2 - La Papessa (Greta Garbo)
3 - L’Imperatrice (Marlene Dietrich)
4 - L’Imperatore (Eric Von Stroheim)
5 - Il Papa (Luis Bunuel)
6 - Gli Amanti (Rudolph Valentino)
7 - Il Carro (The Indian)
8 - La Giustizia (Alfred Hitchcock)
9 - L’Eremita (Buster Keaton)
10 - La Ruota (2001: A Space Odyssey)
11 - La Forza (King Kong)
12 - L’Appeso (Harold Lloyd)
13 - La Morte (The Seventh Seal)
14 - La Temperanza (La Dolce Vita)
15 - Il Diavolo (Faust)
16 - La Torre (Frankenstein)
17 - La Stella (Marilyn Monroe)
18 - La Luna (Beauty and the Beast)
19 - Il Sole (Thunder Over Mexico)
20 - Il Giudizio (M)
21 - Il Mondo (The Great Dictator)
Tarocchi del Cinema
Artists: Sergio Sarri
Publisher: Lo Scarabeo, C.SO SVIZZERA 31, 10143 TORINO, ITALIA

Review Copyright 1999 Diane Wilkes

Images Copyright 1995 Lo Scarabeo

Page Copyright 2000 Diane Wilkes