We made a safe bet. No one in their right mind – if not struck by pathetic snobbery- would dare deny these works the label of masterpieces. Still we have classified these works in two separate grids, so as to determine e sort of pattern or layout which could be easily reproduced in following editions of the event, should the first attempt be successful, thus tracing a sort of connecting thread, a dialogue in progress, rich in considerations and further in-depth examinations. A few words need yet to be said about the criteria that guided us in the assignment of each film to one of the two categories.
Under the heading “IMPERDIBILI”, NOT TO BE MISSED, we have collected an initial series of four films, films which you must see before, as they say, you go off to a better place. And we present these works not without a slight sense of satisfaction, to be quite honest, as we fear that almost all these films, despite their well-deserved status, may run the risk of being neglected, if not ignored, and thus lost. Furthermore, the films in this series share an additional and more distinctive characteristic: they cannot be explained by mostly or only resorting to the context in which they were created, but rather – or only – should be understood as the result of the determination and absolute genius of their authors and of the projects they pertain to. In some cases, notoriously for Lubitsch (but obviously also for Ophula), the “gift”, or “touch” the artists seem mysteriously gifted with ends up becoming proverbial. In others, as for Powell and Pressburger, the intended magnitude of the project consists simply in the creation of the greatest colour film of the History of Cinema, meanwhile in no weighing down or interfering with the more rigorous and overriding narrative requirements.
On the other hand, under the heading of “LA NOSTRA MEMORIA”, OUR MEMORY… ( And how appropriate a name, it seems to us, for a Museum, of which it gives a “basic” definition: what indeed should a museum be tasked with, if not for the selection and preservation of “memorabilia”?)…
As we were saying, the heading “OUR MEMORY” pertains to quite a different atmosphere. We chose to shift sharply away from the first category of films. In this case, in fact, though maintaining the same standard of excellence for the works, our goal was that of emphasizing the very derivation from precise contexts of this category of films, which represent an actual beacon of the spirit of their times – whether exemplifying it or breaking its norms, that much is irrelevant in this setting. It is an effort to retrieve our own memories, which may be unwelcome with those Italians inclined towards annihilation or mere forgetfulness, who may be understood or even excused by their fear of having to come face to face with embarrassing or polemical comparisons of these masterpieces with our present day cinematic production, which mostly veers to bleakness.
Take for example an extraordinary film such as “Io la conoscevo bene” (“I knew her well”), which dilates the so-called “Italian comedy” to the point that it may be seen as a definitive fresco of the cultural and ethical climate of an entire, as well as crucial, era. As we mentioned, a comparison with the current offerings of Italian cinema, which has gone rather flat, and sprawled on the clichés of sociology at its most fleeting, can be nothing but depressing. But, in closing, we want to assert that it is for this very reason that the attempt to overcome these obstacles is so deeply necessary. And in these films, at least, we are shown the path we should follow, a path as lasting and gleaming (also considering our wonderful setting) as marble.
Happy viewing – of this we are certain – and happy emotions.
Paolo Breccia director and screenplay