Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Sotto il sole di Roma / Under the Sun of Rome

Sotto il sole di Roma with Liliana Mancini and Oscar Blando. Click to enlarge the images.
Rooman auringon alla [Finnish telecast 23 May 1981 Yle TV1]. IT 1948. D: Renato Castellani. Story: Renato Castellani, Fausto Tozzi. SC: Renato Castellani, Sergio Amidei, Emilio Cecchi, Ettore Margadonna, Fausto Tozzi. DP: Domenico Scala. AD: Dario Cecchi. M: Nino Rota. C: Oscar Blando (Ciro), Francesco Golisano (Geppo), Liliana Mancini (Iris), Alberto Sordi (Fernando), Gisella Monaldi (Tosca), Alfredo Locatelli (Nerone), Ennio Fabeni (Bruno), Luigi Valentini (Romoletto), Omero Paoloni (Coccolone). P: Universalcine. 35 mm. 100’. B&w. From: CSC – Cineteca Nazionale.
    Theme song "Sotto il sole di Roma" (Nino Rota) sung by Claudio Villa.
    Wikipedia: Prodotto da Sandro Ghenzi per Universal Cine S.A., il film fu girato tutto in esterni mentre per gli interni furono usate ambientazioni reali, quasi tutte intorno al quartiere romano della Basilica di S.Giovanni, piazzale Appio, via Magna Grecia, Via Corfinio, via Sannio, via Appia Nuova, via Emanuele Filiberto, via dello Stradone di San Giovanni, via Taranto e via Assisi ovvero nei pressi della Stazione di Roma Tuscolana e della storica fabbrica Pirelli.
    Viewed at Cinema Jolly (Bologna, Il Cinema Ritrovato, La bella gioventù, Renato Castellani), with e-subtitles in English by Sub-Ti Londra, introduced by Emiliano Morreale, 30 June 2015.

Sergio Tresatti: "The scenario of Sotto il sole di Roma is fifty pages in which the common thread is the friendship between two boys. One represents youth that does not want to die, Peter Pan who does not want to grow up; the other is the friend who leads a normal life. There is a girl in the neighborhood, and a woman past her prime directly taken from reality... Castellani showed the scenario to De Laurentiis, but his answer was disappointing: “Oh Castellà, what do you want to do with these stories about filthy kids? Look at how successful Freda was with Aquila nera. Make a nice adventure film”."

"Castellani did not give up. The screenplay was written quickly with the help of Sergio Amidei. The story was presented from the point of view of Ciro so that everything, even the dangers of war, are a source of amusement and mockery; voiceover is used here for the first time not as a narrative device that overlaps from outside but as integral element of the story. The actors were ‘taken from the street’, except for Alberto Sordi who worked in variety entertainment. The film was then dubbed by the same kids with some difficulty. It went to Venice. No one hoped for a grand result: instead the screening was vastly attended, and the same success was had in theaters.

Sergio Trasatti, Renato Castellani, La Nuova Italia, Firenze 1984

Miguel Marías: "Still too heavily melodramatic in its elaborate, fatalistic arrangement of quite contrived tragic coincidences – most damagingly in the ending sequences –, which increasingly entrap a group of teenagers during the summer of 1943 and after the liberation of Rome (as they age and become forcibly responsible after the death of their parents), Sotto il sole di Roma, a first decisive step from stylization towards realism, strikes most today for Castellani seems to have foreshadowed, more than a decade before, a lot of things which were at the core of Pier Paolo Pasolini’s first features as a director, Accattone (1961) and Mamma Roma (1962). The emotionally lighter scenes, which are never half as heavily handled as the more dramatic ones, still shine today with a freshness that must have looked quite new in 1948, perhaps as a new chapter in the adventures of the boys in Roma città aperta, just a bit older now (1945)."

Miguel Marías (introductions from Il Cinema Ritrovato catalogue and website).

AA: Agonizing during an entire week before the start of the Festival over my viewing choices I first thought I had seen Sotto il sole di Roma before, but checking the introductions (see above) I did not recognize the film of which I had fond and different memories. I thus did go to see it, and soon realized I had seen the previous Il Cinema Ritrovato screening five years ago.

I have always admired Renato Castellani although I mainly know from him only Due soldi di speranza which we screen regularly and the splendid television series La vita di Leonardo di Vinci 1-5 (1971) which I saw at an impressionable age.

Emilio Morreale in his rewarding introduction mentioned that Sotto il sole di Roma was one of the few neorealist films with popular success, the opening of his beloved "la bella gioventù" trilogy (Sotto il sole di Roma, 1948; È primavera…, 1950; Due soldi di speranza, 1952). There are already leads here to Accattone, and premonitions of commedia all'italiana, complete with a memorable appearance by Alberto Sordi, still young and unknown. This was a new start for Castellani which had so far belonged to the calligraphic school, a master of beautiful scenes. He shot on location impressive scenes of swimming at the marrana, an urban swamp, not very healthy. The film takes place in two periods of time, in 1943 during the German occupation, and in 1944 after the liberation, and the account seems to confirm Pasolini's claim that "Fascism had no impact on Italian life".

In the beginning we are told that the movie is based on real events and was filmed entirely on location with non-actors.

It is a tragi-comic Bildungsroman, a growing-up story of an anti-heroic young boy during the transition period from Fascism till Liberation. The boys are running on the streets of Rome on their way to an illegal swimming pond and meet the homeless Geppa who lives in the cellar of the ruins of Colosseum. Ciro loses his new white shoes, and new ones are stolen for him from the shoe store. Their adventures include boxing, evading Nazis and bombings, black market adventures on the countryside, visiting Liberty Club after the liberation, and stealing tyres from Pirelli.

Two female types are introduced at once: the charming Iris, the girl next door, and the formidable harridan mamma, always barking at the incorrigible boys. "Are all women like that?" asks Ciro from his father. "Tutte". (There was laughter in the audience). The mother dies, and gradually we realize that Iris will soon become like her.

But a lot will happen in Ciro's éducation sentimentale before that. Ciro becomes the lover of the insatiable Tosca, the wife of Fernando (the shoe store clerk who becomes the owner of Liberty Club), but Ciro must discontinue the relationship because he is losing too much weight.

Ciro has trouble in finding his place in society, and to make a short cut he decides to participate in a robbery at the Pirelli tyre depot. He is interrupted by Iris, but Ciro's father, a night watchman, is killed during the robbery. Having lost both parents Ciro must face his responsibilities of making a living not only for himself but for the entire family, with a disillusioned Iris by his side.

Nino Rota has composed an engrossing score. We see poverty but we hear splendid, operatic music full of passion, celebrating an irrepressible life force. The theme song is sung by the great Roman singer Claudio Villa, here at the start of a long and successful career. There seems to be no other recording of this song, and thus the soundtrack is especially valuable as a document of Claudio Villa at his best.

The cinematography of Domenico Scala (Ossessione, Acciaio, Fanny, Domenica d'agosto) is a masterful display of realistic location work.

The print is awful, perhaps the same one that was screened here five years ago. This film would deserve a fine restoration project.

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