Scen.: Alessandro Blasetti, Lucio Mandarà; F.: Giuseppe Aquari; Mo.: Angela Cipriani; Scgf.: Mario Molli; Mu.: Carlo Savina; Co.: Adriana Berselli; Testi letti da Arnoldo Foà: Immaginatevi di Frederick Brown, Tutto in un punto di Italo Calvino; Testi sceneggiati da Blasetti: Primo contatto di Murrey Leinster. Int.: Nanni Loy, Orazio Orlando, Orso Maria Guerrini, Angelo Pellegrino; Un caso insoluto di Franco Bellei. Int.: Elisa Cegani, Riccardo Cucciolla, Franco Leonardi, Renato Montalbano, Franco Odoardi, Caterina Zinnerman; La crisalide di Ray Bradbury. Int.: Graziano Giusti, Paolo Poli, Aldo Rendine, Franco Scandurra; Prod.: Filiberto Bandini per R.P.A. D.: 53′
Presentano Mara Blasetti, Paolo Poli e Michela Zegna
“A writer who knows a lot more than I do about science-fiction – and it was this expression of his that made me decide to do the program that I’m putting together – Sergio Solmi, in the introduction of the fine book Le meraviglie del possibile by Fruttero and Lucentini, wrote that in the history of our era, which has evolved over the last hundred years ago, science fiction, a magnetic popular format created during the last quarter of the century, is perhaps the only thing that can ‘open the doors for mankind to the world of marvels’. The doorway to the marvelous is fantasy, dream and even poetry; marvelous, the human need to escape from the reign of positivism, materialism and lucid but dry rational speculation. Like music and song, which nothing will ever stop man from creating; as is the case for every art.
While studying the materials, I immediately realized that it was symptomatic of science-fiction that many of its most successful writers were scientists themselves: astronomers, chemists, nuclear physicists, mathematicians. An aristocracy of minds oriented towards science, successful in their intellectual fields but not satisfied with the limits that knowledge imposes; they instinctively throw themselves into the field of intuition, in other words, the field of fantasy. This fact demonstrates a highly human need for the metaphysical, for the supernatural which the guise of a fairy- tale is not able to hide.
Man knows that he is an infinitesimal atom within the immensity of the universe; but he also knows that, only because he realizes how small he is, his mind can embrace the entire universe in space and in time. And for centuries he has asked for an explanation of these two real and openly contradictory limits; and he seeks support in science-fiction, which he hopes is as valid as much as he pretends it is joke.
And it is Solmi who says: perhaps the soul today chases after the hope that the infinite silence of space will awaken and respond. Man is tired of feeling alone in an empty universe”.
The manuscript reproduced here in full is dated September 30, 1974. Blasetti still does not know that another four years will go by before he will be able to create this program. Due to the volatile political events that led to a substantial structural and managerial revamping of the Italian public television station RAI (in 1977, the appointment of Paolo Grassi as Director-General sealed the new organization), the production was put on hold a number of times. Blasetti found himself having to squeeze his six episode project into three, leaving out the scenes and readings by Arnoldo Foà with a rich repertory of film sequences and the contribution of scientists like Paolo Maffei, Carlo Bernardini and Franco Graziosi.
More than 30 years after it went on the air, the program today is striking for its multi-faceted directing, both elegant and evocative. At 79 Blasetti reinvented himself demonstrating complete mastery of television as a medium, and his sophisticated point of view became a powerful vehicle of information. His ability to educate was immediately compared to the last work of Rossellini, as Alberto Farassino wrote in the “Repubblica”: “Blasetti represents the other side of Italian cinema, heroic and theatrical, the type of father-director embodied by Rossellini.” The scarce production resources had the extraordinary effect of transforming the series into delightful satirical cameos of contemporary society, a kind of “fictional-philosophical news.” The setting was essential. No reconstructions of imaginary worlds, no intergalactic spaceships, no Martians – and if there were any, they would have landed directly in the living room of our home. Dressed up in a ridiculous spacesuit, Nanni Loy greets the aliens like the mayor of a provincial town when the prime minister pays a visit. The metamorphosis of humans into a more evolved state is also treated humorously with Paolo Poli emerging from the funereal encasement of a chrysalis as light as a butterfly (Bevilacqua, “Corriere della Sera”).
“Blasetti,” wrote Buzzolan in the “Stampa”, “offers science-fiction for the parlor, intimate, contemplated, rational”. Science-fiction is an excellent pretext for thinking about the immense mystery surrounding man, his infinite smallness, his limits when faced with what he does not know.
Special thanks to Mara Blasetti and Paolo Poli
Presentation of the Blasetti collection online
An archival inventory of the Blasetti collection has been made with the support and collaboration of the Soprintendenza per i beni librari e documentari (IBC) of the region. The inventory can be accessed online with the IBC-xDams platform, developed entirely on the web and created for the description and integrated use of historical archives.
The IBC also digitalized the archive’s press clippings and invaluable scene sketches. Users may read through the information contained in the inventory as well as view over 17,000 articles from the collection.
We would like to thank the following people for their valuable help: Rosaria Campioni and Brunella Argelli, Zeno Orlandi, Mirella Plazzi (IBC – Soprintendenza per i beni librari e documentari della Regione Emilia-Romagna), Anna Fiaccarini, Enrico Turci (Cineteca di Bologna).