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Review: H.P. Lovecraft - The Terror Within

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Monsters and Co


- A docufiction based on the possibility that H. P. Lovecraft came to Italy in 1926 and found inspiratión for his stories from the traditional legends of the Polesine región

Review: H.P. Lovecraft - The Terror Within

He left us the legacy of the myth of Cthulhu, the equally unpronounceable and terrifying saga of an ancient creature that, together with its ferocious divinities, came from unknown dimensions. However, when Howard Philips Lovecraft died, on March 15, 1937, in the Jane Brown Memorial Hospital in Providence (Rhode Island), there did not even exist an anthology of his wonderful stories. Today, he is considered one of the fathers of supernatural and horror fiction.

Lovecraft never set foot outside the United States yet H. P. Lovecraft – The Terror Within is based on the possibility that the "Providence loner" came to Italy in 1926 and that his most famous stories were inspired by the traditional myths of the Polesine Filò. The Filò is a tradition imparted through the generations for centuries, in the towns and countryside of the Polesine region. It is a kind of initiation of life. As everyone works, from children to grandparents, spinning thread ["filo"] in the heat of the stables, making the Filò together, customs, habits, songs, fables and superstitions are passed down. Lovecraft was interested in the past, the unknown, the extraordinary. "Fear is the oldest and strongest emotion of mankind," he wrote in an essay in 1927.

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The film by Federico Greco and Roberto Leggio, which had a long gestation period, appears as a "docufiction" in a game that shuffles back and forth between reality and fiction. To enjoy the film, one has to give in to the filmmakers’ prowess, and to one’s own "magical thought," that which lives alongside "rational thought" in constant interaction within the experimentation with reality that each of us undergoes daily.

Director Federico Greco "grew up" in the cult of Stanley Kubrick (to which he dedicated an heartfelt documentary, Stanley and Us). It was impossible for him not to begin with the American director. Kubrick transformed genres, turning them upon their heads and redefining their codes. His films aimed to create a cosmogony, a synthesis of all of humanity’s characters into images and sound. Kubrick, as Positiv critic Michel Ciment explained, was able to perceive all of the contemporary world’s anxieties and, as a reader of Freud and psychoanalysis aficionado, he knew how to give each film a different and profound approach. In Kubrick’s hands, the horror genre (with The Shining) achieved a unique inventive potential because, beneath an enthralling narrative, we can make out fundamental themes tied to Western society. Ever faithful to his cinematic idol, Federico Greco dismantles the devices of the horror genre, demonstrating its single elements and rendering it absolute, to then graft the suppositions (Lovecraft) onto popular culture (the Filò).

However, the director is overtly more interested in the "how" than in the "why". And this is the reason why the move from documentary to fiction was not a complete one: We can see the mechanisms of the narrative dimension, of moviemaking; the development of the film becomes part of the film, captured as it is in the precise moment it is produced.

(Translated from Italian)


international title: Road To L.
original title: IL mistero di Lovecraft
country: Italy
sales agent: Minerva Pictures Group
year: 2004
directed by: Federico Greco, Roberto Leggio
screenplay: Federico Greco, Roberto Leggio
cast: Roberto Leggio, Federico Greco, Fabrizio La Palombara, Valentina Lodovini, Roberto Purvis, Fausto Maria Sciarappa

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