Sog., Scen.: Marco Ferreri, Rafael Azcona. F.: Aldo Tonti. M.: Enzo Micarelli. Scgf.: Carlo Egidi. Mus.: Teo Usuelli. Int.: Marcello Mastroianni (Mario), Catherine Spaak (Giovanna), Ugo Tognazzi (automobilista), William Berger (Benny), Ennio Balbo, Marco Ferreri. Prod.: Carlo Ponti per Compagnia Cinematografica Champion-Les Films Concordia. DCP 4K. D.: 86’. Bn e Col.
I always liked him because he gave actors free rein and because he had a great quality: he said little.
Mastroianni on Ferreri
I got him because he didn’t act, he naturally became part of the film, always present, especially in moments of silence.
Ferreri on Mastroianni
Break Up is an invisible film, a film that not many viewers got to see. Despite being the first encounter between Mastroianni and Ferreri and one of Mastroianni’s most extraordinary performances, it is one of the least known films of European post-war cinema. Up until this restoration and its presentation at the 2016 Venice Film Festival, where it won the Leone d’Oro for best restoration.
Work on Break Up ended in December 1963. In January 1964 the film was ready, and it received the censor’s certificate, but Carlo Ponti decided to stop its release and transformed it into a 25-minute short as an episode of the film Oggi, domani, dopodomani, which included two other episodes directed by Luciano Salce and Eduardo De Filippo. In 1967 Ponti and Ferreri met up again, and Ferreri shot a new episode in color. The film was ready, but after a short distribution period in France and the United States it vanished. In 1979 Ferreri donated a black and white 16mm print to Lab80 in Bergamo for small independent distribution.
For such a little-seen movie, it certainly has many names: L’uomo dei palloncini, L’uomo dei cinque palloni (L’Homme aux cinq ballons) and finally Break Up, which was probably Ponti’s invention after the success of Blow-up. Ponti sold the film to MGM, and later the rights were passed on to Warner Bros., where the interpositive was found (the negative, instead, has been lost).
Seeing the film today is an incredible experience: it anticipates the party of Hollywood Party, Kim Basinger’s striptease in 9½ Weeks, with a singer who looks like Belushi before Belushi ever appeared; a film in which we can admire Morandi’s paintings and listen to one of the most popular singers of that time, Orietta Berti. We can already see in it the Ferreri of abstraction, a non-ideological filmmaker, who creates paradoxical stories and reveals the contradiction of a consumer society. Break Up’s screenplay was written by Rafael Azcona, the screenwriter of all of Ferreri’s best films (El pisito, La donna scimmia, La Grande Bouffe…).
Gian Luca Farinelli
/Restored in 4K in 2016 by Cineteca di Bologna and Museo Nazionale del Cinema di Torino, in collaboration with Warner Bros., with the support of Massimo Sordella and Nuovo Imaie, at L’Immagine Ritrovata laboratory, from the 4K scan of a vintage interpositive and a sound positive preserved by Warner Bros. Thanks to CSC – Cineteca Nazionale for providing as reference for the restoration the 35mm copy struck from the original negative at Turner International, Los Angeles