Terzani recounts his life in The End Is My Beginning
by Vittoria Scarpa
A man on his deathbed recounts his life and experiences to his son in what should be a film teeming with flashbacks, seeing as how the man is Tiziano Terzani and the theatre of his adventures are Vietnam and its devastating war, Mao’s China, Ghandi’s India and the Himalayas.
Instead, The End Is My Beginning [+see also:
film profile], an adaptation of the bestseller by the great Italian writer and journalist, directed by Jo Baier, is a long dialogue between father and son, noteworthy performances from the leads (Bruno Ganz and Elio Germano), a theatrical film shot in one setting: Terzani’s real house in Tuscany, where he spent his last days among the pristine countryside and mountains, talking to his son Folco about life, disease and death.
Adapted for the big screen by Folco Terzani and the film’s German producer, Ulrich Limmer, the memories of the unforgettable Asian correspondent for Der Spiegel and Corriere della Sera, who passed away in 2004, are presented directly and simply: "We wondered whether or not to use flashbacks," said Limmer, "but then decided to show something increasingly more rare: one man speaking, and another listening".
The choice was a decidedly courageous one, and it paid off thanks to the intensity of the cast, the quality of the dialogue, and viewers’ awareness that they are watching an authentic and in some way illuminating adventure. "More than a film, it’s a unique experience,” said Germano, who to portray Folco spent two months at the Terzani’s house "in contact with the stars, mountains and wind, and collecting chestnuts".
The challenge pays off also thanks to the total lack of melodrama. Everything is measured, restrained, like Germano’s emotions. Though his gazes and silences, the actor expresses the undeniable conflict of a son towards a larger-than-life father, as well as his curiosity and the desire to understand his parent.
Produced by Collina Film Production and B.A. Production in collaboration with Beta Film and RAI Cinema, The End Is My Beginning is released in Italy on April I by Fandango on 60 screens, after having garnered 230,000 admissions in Germany.
(Translated from Italian)