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Interview: Mario Martone • Director

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“To see my Leopardi all you need is a heart and soul”


- VENICE 2014: Italian director Mario Martone is in competition at the Venice Film Festival with Leopardi

Interview: Mario Martone  • Director

A rebel. According to Mario Martone the Giacomo Leopardi that he has brought to cinema with Leopardi [+see also:
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(Il giovane favoloso), in competition at the Venice Film Festival, was a nonconformist little understood or accepted by the cultural intelligentsia of his time, "uncommitted, just like Pasolini was". The Naples director opened his "Leopardi construction site" some time ago, almost ten years ago. Recently he staged his Operette morali, with great success in Italy and abroad. Then he moved onto the biopic. "For a long time I was faced with a century that didn’t interest me. Later on I became fascinated by language and history and Leopardi’s voice kept me going, I felt it inside me. I thought that we could try to take on the challenge of the movie, I couldn’t resist and with Ippolita di Maio we started to write the screenplay. A movie is a long journey that begins with a light, the light of the original idea. If, once the work is completed, I see again even just a flash of that light in the movie then I’m satisfied”.

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Come to think of it, Martone thinks that all of his work Leopardian. "Noi Credevamo was also". He smiles. "Maybe even Tango glaciale from 1982 too (the performance sensation that placed Martone at the focus of the public and critics’ attention, editor’s note). There’s no real difference between then and now". 

According to Martone, Leopardi was "a universal intellectual. His way of thinking and his life have moved me deeply. You don’t have to have studied 19th Century Italian history or to know Leopardi’s works to follow his story, to see my film. All you need is a heart and soul". 

What were the reference sources for writing the movie? "We worked by looking at his writings, everything: poetry, prose, his correspondence. In the movie everything comes from Leopardi’s words but also from the words spoken to him by others. A wealth of characters and human relationships from all over Italy, which ends in Naples, where Giacomo by that stage nothing has left to lose, with his convulsing body, as if reflecting his drawing into himself and taking refuge in his mind. A mind that finally opens itself faced with the spectacular eruption of Vesuvius".

The soundtrack is based on different works by Gioacchino Rossini, who lived during Giacomo Leopardi’s time, the Outer piece by Doug Van Nort, from the collective disc Quartet for the End of the Space, and electronic music by Apparat (alias of German musician Sascha Ring), quite far removed from the period in which the movie is set. "The collaboration with Sasha Ring came about after one of his concerts in the Carignano theatre in Turin that I organized. When producing the movie I had some of his discs; I tested them on the editing and they suited the images perfectly. I then rang him and we worked together in selecting the music".

(Translated from Italian)


international title: Leopardi
original title: Il giovane favoloso
country: Italy
year: 2014
directed by: Mario Martone
cast: Elio Germano, Isabella Ragonese, Michele Riondino, Edo Natoli, Massimo Popolizio, Anna Mouglalis, Valerio Binasco, Paolo Graziosi, Sandro Lombardi, Iaia Forte

main awards/selection

Venice Film Festival 2014 In competition
Bari International Film Festival 2015 

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