The new golden age of Cinecittà

The new golden age of Cinecittà


Big day crowd at Cinecittà. Filming for the series Mr. Child of the Century, about the rise of Benito Mussolini, is in full swing. It occupies a large part of the famous studios, located on the outskirts of Rome. To mark the occasion, the international press was invited to visit them at the beginning of April. Journalists are offered coffee capsules stamped with a suggestive “M”, in the colors of the transalpine flag. The poverty-stricken Milan of the 1920s has been recreated under the open sky, not far from the most iconic sets of Cinecittà, all antique colonnades. Thick build and exalted gestures, Luca Marinelli, the actor who plays the dictator, galvanizes a mass of extras. In a neighboring studio, another scene from Mr. Child of the Century is being produced using state-of-the-art technology: LED screens are placed all around the set to facilitate the actors’ performances. .

Emblematic, the series planned for 2024, for which the French broadcaster has not yet been announced, is emblematic for two reasons. On the one hand, because Cinecittà was born from the will of Mussolini himself, who made it, upon its inauguration in 1937, the armed wing of fascist propaganda. On the other hand, because, with its eight months of filming, its 50 million euros budget and its extended credits, the series symbolizes the revival of the Roman studios.

In fact, on the 40 hectares of Cinecittà, the shadows of umbrella pines cross those of cranes and bulldozers. By 2026, five new studios will be built and four structures, among the nineteen already existing, will be restored. It’s hard to imagine that just ten years ago, there were strike pickets in the same place. The employees refused the destiny that the owners at the time promised them: to become another step on the path that leads so many tourists to Rome. The studios risked being dismantled and the staff attached to an amusement park…

A dream factory hub

Between two takes, the English director of Mr. Child of the Century, Joe Wright, received an impromptu visit from an admirer, his peer Luca Guadagnino. “We encouraged each other,” confides the filmmaker of Call Me by Your Name (2017). At the same time, the Italian was filming Queer, the adaptation of a novel by William Burroughs supposed to take place in Mexico. A tropical forest was erected on a hill in the Roman studios, mixing artificial plants and others imported from Sicily, the region where the director grew up. “I didn’t want a classic period film,” says Luca Guadagnino. I came to Cinecittà to look for what Jean-Luc Godard had found there while filming Le Mépris : an “elsewhere”. It’s my way of being faithful to the “elsewheres” invented by Burroughs. »

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