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CASANOVA

A Brief History of the Legend
While Lasse Hallström's CASANOVA takes off into uncharted territory by having the romantic hero fall in love with a woman who rejects him—the film also pays homage to the richness of Casanova's legacy. The subject of numerous novels, plays and motion pictures, Casanova has become one of the world's most enduring modern myths. But he was also a real man with an incredible true history—a spy, soldier, diplomat, writer and adventurer who became a model of living life to its absolute fullest. His memoirs provide not only an entertaining account of his romantic dalliances—they also provide a fascinating snapshot of the Age of Enlightenment and of a man pushing the boundaries of human experiences to their most invigorating extremes.

Who was the real Casanova? A few facts:

• Giacomo Casanova was born in 1725 in the city of Venice. His father was an actor and his mother an actress whose beauty was famed across Europe. Though he was a sickly child, plagued by nosebleeds, it was said that he grew up surrounded by strong women who nurtured and enchanted him.

• Showing early brilliance, Casanova studied at the University of Padua and entered the seminary at St. Cyprian to become a priest, but was expelled for his scandalous conduct and love affairs. He received his doctorate of law in 1742.

• In 1744, Casanova became the Secretary to Cardinal Acquaviva of Rome until scandal again forced him to leave the city, eventually returning to Venice.

• Casanova held jobs as a violinist, a clergyman, a secretary and a soldier in several countries. He also wrote prolifically, publishing plays, novels, poetry and pamphlets, though his most famous work would be his epic autobiography, "History of My Life.”

• In 1749, Casanova met his first great love, Henriette, of whom he wrote: "People who believe that a woman is not enough to make a man equally happy all the twenty-four hours of a day have never known a Henriette.” She left him heartbroken.

• Chased by the Inquisition for years, in 1755, Casanova was arrested for witchcraft and all his manuscripts confiscated. He was sentenced to five years in a dungeon, but he made a spectacular escape, winding up in Paris, where he was greeted as celebrity. After making a fortune in the lottery there, he continued his adventures across Europe.

• Casanova died on June 4, 1798, at his castle in Dux, in what is now the Czech Republic. In death, he became even more famous, enduring as a symbol of die-hard romance and the obsession with love.

• Among the films made about Casanova's life and loves are Alfred Deesy's 1918 "Casanova,” Alexandre Volkoff's 1927 "Casanova—The Loves of Casanova,” the 1954 Bob Hope comedy "Casanova's Big Night,” "Casanova '70” starring Marcello Mastroianni and Federico Fellini's 1976 "Casanova” starring Donald Sutherland.

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