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VENICE 2018 Orizzonti

Review: The Armadillo's Prophecy

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- VENICE 2018: Fandango signs an adaptation of cartoonist Zerocalcare’s bestselling graphic novel, directed by Emanuele Scaringi

Review: The Armadillo's Prophecy
Simone Liberati and Pietro Castellitto in The Armadillo's Prophecy

An adaptation of the graphic Novel The Armadillo's Prophecy arrives on the big screen, a bestseller by the very current cartoonist Zerocalcare. The film was screened in the Orizzonti section at Venice Film Festival. Fandango, which produced the film with Rai Cinema, is due to release it in Italy from 13 September.

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The Armadillo's Prophecy [+see also:
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was directed by Emanuele Scaringi, his feature film debut after having long been a part of Domenico Procacci's production company, developing several projects. He is an experienced author, has made several short films and documentaries that have participated in various festivals, and has contributed to several films as a screenwriter, including Senza nessuna pietà [+see also:
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by Michele Alhaique, Diaz - Don’t Clean Up This Blood [+see also:
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by Daniele Vicari and B.B. and the Cormorant by Edoardo Gabbriellini. As a production delegate he has followed films such as Valentina Pedicini’sWhere Shadows Fall [+see also:
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, Sydney Sibilla'sI Can Quit Whenever I Want [+see also:
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, Rolando Ravello's No Place like Home [+see also:
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and Gipi’s The Last Man on Earth [+see also:
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. His first feature film bears witness to his craft, and was not easy to make. Zerocalcare's comics (Michele Rech's pseudonym) consist of a unique universe, filled with spontaneous daily life and pungent irony, and this novel in particular is "a sweet tale littered with memories," to quote its fans, "pungent and delicious" and full of modesty, about a friend who is no longer there, past adventures together and how they lose touch, for no particular reason. A story that touches the essence of the human soul, both sweet and sad at the same time, with a balance that allows the reader to relate without falling into banality or becoming a tear-jerker.

The question is this: how will Zerocalcare's most diehard fans react to the film written by Oscar Glioti, Valerio Mastandrea and Johnny Palomba? Not very well judging by the comments on social media following the project's announcement. The film's writers have tried to create a film adaptation that also works well in other languages, while staying faithful to the graphic novel's spirit, along with many of its gags.

The Armadillo's Prophecy is set in the Roman district of Rebibbia, in the Tiburtina Valley, where Zero lives (Simone Liberati, Pure Hearts [+see also:
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interview: Roberto De Paolis
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), a man on the cusp of his thirtieth birthday who works as a designer. He doesn't have a steady job, so we see him teaching French to a naughty boy, timing check-in files at the airport and creating posters and illustrations for indie punk bands. We are in a ‘redskin’ environment, community centres, self-produced music, antagonistic militancy. There’s just one small detail: Zero has an imaginary friend, a rather cumbersome alter ego, his conscience, in short. It’s a big talking pedantic armadillo (Valerio Aprea under tons of foam rubber). Another constant presence in his life is his childhood friend, Secco (Pietro Castellitto). One night, Zero receives an email from the father of one of his teenage friends, who he was in love with once upon a time. Camille is dead.

The director has stated that The Armadillo's Prophecy is also a small tribute to the narrative universes in which the Zero and Secco generation grew up. Films like The Goonies or Stand by Me. The Armadillo is the Gremlin of the Roman suburbs. It’s worth referencing an old Zerocalcare comic strip: "Thirty-year-olds no longer exist, just like gnomes, the dodo and Eskimos. Now there is adolescence, post-adolescence and mass graves. Being thirty-years-old is outdated – which we criticise due to nostalgia – just like having a steady job."

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