Visconti who is?

L Visconti S Cecchi D Amico alla ColombaiaLuchino Visconti, great genius of the theater and cinema now on the occasion of the 40 years after his death and 110 after birth, chose the island of Ischia as the ideal “buen retiro creativo” to wait for some of his works that became “masterpieces”. In this perspective, in the wood of Zaro, on the northern coast of Forio, bought a villa – La Colombaia - that, in time, and after the death of the master, has become a kind of controversial and mythologized outpost for the Italian culture and not just .

The trachytic rocks of the garden house the ashes of Luchino and his sister Ubalda. La Colombaia and Visconti are a powerful combination, in every sense, accompanying himself to a vague suspended feeling of disturbance, something unresolved in the local imagination. I asked director Gaetano Amalfitano to tell his original relationship with the place and his double myth. (Ci. Cen.) My relationship with the Colombaia began in 2005, but there had been a previous short period in 1995: I was shooting in Ischia a “promo”  as support in seeking a production for a film from my first screenplay, in which the two protagonists were an Italian and German guy, a dark past militant environmentalist, and a young graduate Roman woman survivor of rape, on holiday in Ischia with a group of friends. He lives on the island and with the girl visit a few places including the Colombaia.
I had a small crew of friends, not all islanders, as my father Michele, who often accompanied us to drive the second car, and who liked to be with the group. When we went to shoot at the Colombaia, was the first time I saw this place which for me had a mythical flavor, as I knew little or nothing of Visconti in Ischia. I just knew it was a villa abandoned due to a dispute between the heirs and the municipality of Forio.
We arrived at the villa venturing down a path from the adjacent forest. No one was there, we discovered a kind of abandoned castle in a bad way, despite the noble savage aura, as if it had just been sacked by mercenaries: torn tiles, rusty stairs, local deserts, everything open and available to anyone. Almost a cursed castle, cinematically attractive because it offered ample creative freedom. We shot a scene on the terrace in front of the facade, then another down the iron spiral staircase in front of the elevator, still full of colored glasses, no longer working but in good condition despite the rust, and a third scene on the top panoramic terrace. The “promo” did not help me much, I didn’t shoot the film but a Roman producer in 1999 would have done it  if the Ministry had granted the funding required by law. It was not.
Come back to 2005: shortly after the presentation of my documentary «Angelo Rizzoli e Ischia»  - on the story of the bond between the great Milanese publisherproducer and the island of Ischia in the 50s and 60s - Ugo Vuoso, artistic director of Fondazione La Colombaia, asked me if I wanted to make a documentary about Visconti and Ischia to submit in 2006 for the centenary of the birth of the master. Enthusiastic about the idea, I sent him a quote that was accepted. So I interviewed Gianni Rondolino, great historian of cinema. In 2006 began the administrative trouble for the Colombaia and its new decline, as a result my documentary project did not advance and at one point, speaking with the friend Anna Pilato, we decided to move the matter of the theme: no longer Visconti and Ischia, but the houses inhabited by Visconti, and “Luchino at home” («Luchino a casa») could be the title.
And so, between 2006 and 2007, I interviewed Roberto Ielasi, Piero Tosi and Caterina D’Amico, and did other filming. Then I stopped when addressing those outside Rome and Ischia because economically challenging enough, especially in Lombardy, but also because I turned my energies to another script, which then abandoned for another, between 2008 and 2009, the film «Spiriti come noi».
Meanwhile, I froze the project on the Visconti homes for different reasons, though thinking about it every now and then talking with Anna Pilato, until in the autumn of 2014 I take it back into consideration: I was stimulated after reviewing my interview to great Piero Tosi in which he spoke with rich descriptions about a private and home Visconti. That interview constituted, in my opinion, a paper to not leave in the drawer, but I still had doubts. A few months earlier I contacted Cristina Gastel, grandson of Visconti, who kindly had offered to cooperate in the filming of Viscontian houses in Lombardy, but we had not agreed times and details. Compared to 2007, I had more experience and ability to face the trip to Lombardy, but I finally decided, after a troubled weekend of reflection, to give up documentary in order to make a short film to be shot in the Colombaia.
From this was born “Visconti ... who is?” written, arranged and shot in short time because of the closing of the villa for the season: it was on November 2, 2014, but since then no longer has reopened to the public for the complex administrative-judicial issue.
The story tells about a man who, one morning, leaves home abandoning his wife, for a marriage breakdown caused by various problems, and arrives in Ischia, where he took a drastic decision. The next day accidentally arrives at La Colombaia, without knowing the existence, exploring that unknown place by short trip in the Visconti world that leads him to reflect on his personal dramas until he seems intent on another drastic decision. I wanted to do a work concerning Visconti, though, before 2005, I did not consider him one of my favorite directors, while knowing and appreciating the masterpieces. Then, while I increased the work and life, the attraction grew. I do not want to add words to the vast literature on this great artist of the ‘900, I can only say that seeing and reviewing his movies - except "Lo straniero" and “Le Notti bianche” and some of his short episodes – I am fascinated by topics, from beauty and the depth of his cinema. But also from something that I really appreciate as a director, and is a certain “perfection,” a strong approach to perfection, if one exists in the cinema, the staging, combining, as few filmmakers know how to do well, show and tale , form and content.
Also I wanted, perhaps, even for a “territorial” motivation: I could not be indifferent to the fact that Visconti had chosen my island as “holiday residence” where welcome friends / co-workers to create many pages of his films and his theater, and then as a place to be buried. So it was a satisfaction to have almost all employees of Ischia - including the protagonist, the actor-director-writer - Eduardo Cocciardo - all with the aim of, like me, honoring worthily the great Luchino and his Colombaia.


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Info on Ischia island

  • Surface: 46 Kmq
  • Hight: 789 mt
  • Lat.: 40° 44',82 N
  • Long.: 13° 56',58 E
  • Periplus: 18 miglia
  • Coasts: 51.2 Km
  • Cities: 6
  • Inhabitants: 58.029


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