The beautiful documentary that Martone dedicated to the Neapolitan comedian, actor and director who would have turned 70 just now is out in Italian cinemas today. Here’s what Martone told us about his film.
Telling Massimo Troisi as if he were talking about a fifteenth-century painter.
That’s what Mario Martone it was proposed to do with Someone down there loves me, a beautiful film that is much more than just a documentary about a great artist who passed away too soon. “I immediately understood that I liked the idea of making a film in which he was spoken of in cinema: I wanted to bring out what was of him in his films. Films tell us about the artist, and the man emerges from the artist”, he explained to us Marton al Berlin Film Festivaldove Someone down there loves me was presented as a world premiere. “I listened to the stories of his friends to understand the man, but there are things that are on a human and personal level that I left out”. The Trosi that emerges from this film, continued Martone, “is therefore the mio Troisi, almost a character in the film. In this he was of great inspiration to me Ennius Of Turnerin which Giuseppe makes Morricone a character, and in which he does not hold back in the face of musical technicalities”.
It is because of his desire to make it clear that he is in front of the works, even before in front of a person, that Martone put himself (“not at ease”) in front of the camera, showing himself at the beginning of the his film during editing, with images of Troisi on the computer monitors: “I wanted it to be clear to the viewer that we were watching his films together”.
The idea for Someone down there loves me was born from the almost casual encounter with Troisi’s life and work partner for years: Anna Pavignano. “Mauro Berardi had offered me to read a screenplay by Anna di lei, which told of her life and Massimo between Turin and Naples. She was very beautiful, confirmation of the weight Anna had in Massimo’s cinema, but I didn’t want to make the film because I knew I couldn’t shoot an actor who played Massimo Troisi,” he explained Mario Martone. “After some time Massimo returned to office and proposed the documentary to me”. At that point Martone accepted, setting only one condition: “that of being able to edit his films in the documentary: in this way his cinema comes back to life on the screen, and I try to tell why his cinema was so beautiful”. TroisiMartone added later, “he suffered from the fact of not being considered as a director, of being seen only as a great comedian: I wanted to give him this thing back, which I knew he would like”.
The thesis – we have already talked about it in this review of Someone down there loves me – is that for which the cinema of Troisi is in close relationship with that of New wave French: “Massimo was a rebel, strengthened by a political commitment to which he had always remained faithful. He was the son of a time and a place, the Naples of the seventies which was an important climate. In one of the leaflets written by him that can be seen in the film”, continued Martone, “he theorises a character who must never give in and surrender to conformity, and he has remained faithful to this despite being a much loved actor. His back was straight, he was doing what he had in mind to do: this is Nouvelle Vague, as is talking about love by asking questions about it instead of telling about it. His themes were reflected in the form of his films, with completely free choices, sometimes from radical cinema”.
To strike and intrigue Martone, then, there were also “the strong, real, uncommon female roles in Italian cinema of the time, which crowded Troisi’s films, written with Anna Pavignano. Anna was a girl from Turin, a feminist very involved in the movement, and at the time of her film debut Troisi was already Troisi, famous for the Grimace. Normally as a director he would have had to work with one of the many great screenwriters of the time, for his debut, but instead he chooses to write with the girl he loves: this already says a lot about his total freedom”.
Martone, who had a “brief friendship” with Troisi, was on the set of his latest film, The postman, which Troisi faced although ill and waiting for a transplant, and which he actually decided to shoot “with his heart”, before facing an operation that perhaps would have saved his life. Like many, Marton he watched the completed film in tears, wracked with grief at her death. “The gift of Someone down there loves me was to see him again, to see a film that somehow didn’t exist for me, that was a black hole in my relationship with him as a spectator, and that by seeing it again in the course of an exciting viewing I reconsidered, and evaluated the point of arrival of all his cinema, which contains a precise auteur cipher due to the magic that cinema has, capable of an authorial poetics that develops in relationship with others”.