Sceneggiatura inedita di Federico Fellini e Bernardino Zapponi per un film non realizzato (1970-1971)

Italia, 2010 Dossier edited by Roberto Chiesi; Interventi (documenti d’archivio): Federico Fellini, Bernardino Zapponi, Ingmar Bergman; Mo.: L’Immagine Ritrovata; Prod.: Cineteca di Bologna, in collaborazione con Museo del Cinema di Torino; Betacam D.: 30’. Col.

T. it.: Italian title. T. int.: International title. T. alt.: Alternative title. Sog.: Story. Scen.: Screenplay. F.: Cinematography. M.: Editing. Scgf.: Set Design. Mus.: Music. Int.: Cast. Prod.: Production Company. L.: Length. D.: Running Time. f/s: Frames per second. Bn.: Black e White. Col.: Color. Da: Print source

Film Notes

“The vessel of dead scripts – that terrible ghost ship sailing on icy blustery seas, laden with screenplays that the wind whips up and scatters on greenish waters… Even if the screenplay to Storia d’amore (‘love story’, a project to be made pairing up with Ingmar Bergman) was carried away on the wind, I do however still have a first treatment, written with Fellini”. Bernardino Zapponi wrote these words in 1995, two years after the director passed away, presenting seven pages of that mysterious treatment for a medium-length feature, written with the great master but never made, in his book Il mio Fellini (Marsilio). It was intended as an episode to stand alongside another, directed by Ingmar Bergman, in a twosome named Love Duet. Only the part conceived by Bergman came into being, but as a feature-length: Beröringen / The Touch. The Love Duet project was commissioned by an American producer, Martin Poll, for Universal, and would then have passed into the hands of Alberto Grimaldi at P.E.A. Bearing the title of Una donna sconosciuta (‘an unknown woman’) in its last version, the script had not really been carried away on the wind but lay hidden among the thousands and thousands of pages in Zapponi’s study, which was lovingly kept by his widow Françoise Rambert in the same state it was left in upon his death in 2000. The script originated from an original story by Zapponi, L’effeminazione, which Fellini fell in love with (illustrated in a letter to Grimaldi). However, he ended up dropping this project in favour of Roma (1972) and Amarcord (1973). If it is true that the many projects Fellini failed to make (starting off with his legendary Viaggio di G. Mastorna – ‘Voyage of the G Mastorna’) all went to ‘nourish’, in various ways, the films that reached completion, then the Una donna sconosciuta project went to ‘fertilise’ several scenes in Roma (particularly the brilliant orbital road footage), La città delle donne (City of Women) and above all Amarcord. In fact, in the last version, Fellini had decided to set the story of the metamorphosis experienced by the factory owner Raul in a small provincial town on the border between Emilia and Romagna, in the period between 1922 and 1928. Thus the background would have been ‘Italietta’, with: “the Fascists, the idiotic, violent and infantile sex-maniacs; the aristocrats, who supported them out of cowardice and masochism; and the peddling sleazy clergy – lugubrious masks of a Carnival lacking in imagination.” However, differently to the 1973 film, Una donna sconosciuta would have gravitated around (at least on paper) a distressingly individual story, with a gloomy atmosphere seeming to echo that of Toby Dammit. Even the desperation and frantic car racing conjure up the story of the British actor who came to Rome to shoot a film and was tormented by recurrent visions of a possessed doll. Nonetheless, in the pages penned by Fellini and Zapponi, one fascinating aspect is the meticulous and obsessive ‘staging’ Raul carries out to ‘resurrect’ the missing woman, first having her played by a prostitute and then impersonating her himself. The descriptions of Raul’s ‘directing’ seem almost a bizarre remembrance of the working methods used by Fellini himself, who gets to grips with a body and a face, to then remodel them so that they conform with a mental picture. For the lead he had initially chosen Robert Vaughn, one of the protagonists in The Magnificent Seven, but then Mastroianni’s name also emerged. This dossier rebuilds the story and the sinking of the project, bringing together for the first time the materials for this film that was never made: footage of Fellini’s and Bergman’s Rome press conference in January 1969, which should have marked the start of the film; Fellini’s notes, plot and drawings (which seem shaded with Vaughn’s features); and the unused screenplay and its evolution in the director’s subsequent films.

Roberto Chiesi

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