Federico Fellini: A script and a comic to understand the movie that almost killed Fellini | Babelia

On Wednesday, April 12, 1967, Italy dawns with the news of the emergency hospitalization of Federico Fellini. “In the Roman artistic environments one speaks with insistence of a pulmonary problem; or a serious form of pleurisy or a traumatic pneumothorax, ”reports the newspaper Il Messaggero. Word has spread that Fellini might have cancer. The transalpine press already has ready, just in case, the obituary of the director of 47 years. In room 105 of the Salvator Mundi clinic, on the hill of the Gianicolo in Rome, where telegrams arrive in hundreds, visits occur at a frantic pace. The most faithful friends and collaborators are there. Also present, producer Dino De Laurentiis tries to hold back tears. Even Pope Paul VI, who years earlier had described as intrepid sinners who had come a little closer to perdition by going to the cinema to see La dolce vita,Send a telegram to the director to wish him a speedy recovery.

However, in the midst of the anguish unleashed by that mysterious evil that threatens to end the life of one of the most talented filmmakers of his time, some journalists let out a doubt: won't it be another ploy that defined itself same as a great liar to get rid of the filming, eternally postponed, of The trip of G. Mastorna? In the work of the Italian genius, which is celebrated this Monday the centenary of birth, the question persists of how it would have been the only film that these weeks will not be able replenish film libraries and cinemas. The tape, inspired by The Strange Viaggio di Domenico Molo, by Dino Buzzati, who deeply marked Fellini at 18, presented herself as a monumental odyssey over the hereafter. It would be his next great success, after that of Eight and a half, Oscar prize for the best foreign film in 1963. Or at least, he sold it to the uncompromising De Laurentiis. But a series of misfortunes crossed the path of the teacher, from the difficulty of finding the main actor to the innumerable disagreements with the Neapolitan producer.

The episode of his hospital admission, narrated by Tullio Kezich, film critic and director's friend, in the biography Federico Fellini, la vita e i filmHe confirmed what the superstitious filmmaker had been intuiting since the beginning of the tests in the spring of 1965: something that he often called "clouds" with "changing and threatening contours", prevents him from making the film. According to Kezich, a strange call announcing bad news, whose motive remains unknown, will cause him to definitively abandon filming in 1971.

"The trip of G. Mastorna, which was rolling, is about death. I thought my curiosity was being punished. That I had knocked on a door that was closing on me, ”he confessed to the French magazine L'Express in 1969. In the work, the Italian geniusor narrates the errancy of Giuseppe Mastorna, a cellist around the quarantine, in a kind of limbo city where the most absolute chaos reigns, after his plane, wrapped in a violent storm, has "miraculously" landed in the middle of a square which dominates an immense gothic cathedral. As Mastorna goes into that world populated with grotesque beings and disturbing in which nothing seems to make sense, he understands that he did not survive the plane crash.

Vignette taken from the comic 'El Viaje de G.Mastorna'.

Vignette taken from the comic 'El Viaje de G.Mastorna'.

Although Fellini will try throughout his life to resume the “damn” project, it will be necessary to wait for 1992, a year before his death, so that history sees light… in comic. As "wanting to be finally released" from Mastorna, according to journalist Aldo Tassone, the director proposes to Milo Manara, the most felliniano cartoonist that exists and with whom he had already collaborated in the comic Trip to Tulum, express the story in vignette. As the author of the erotic work says, Click, in an interview for French television in 2009, Fellini was for him "a divinity." “My constant anguish while working on Mastorna was the following: how would that beloved friend react when he saw the representation of his dreams, clear and crisp in his spirit to the smallest detail inevitably changed, transformed, impoverished? For this same reason I would like to thank you, ”said Manara about the director who, before being a filmmaker, made his weapons in the satirical magazine Marc´Aurelio, as a cartoonist.

For the realization of the comic, Fellini adapted the script and drew a story board from the first part of the extremely detailed account that served as the basis for Manara's illustration work. The renowned story The trip of G. Mastorna, called Fernet, however it was unfinished. Irony of destiny, the appearance of the word end In the last vignette of the first chapter, the director's paranoia woke up and precipitated his decision to abort, once again, the project. The comic, published in Spain in 1996 under the title The trip of G. Mastorna. Fellini's Dream Movie (Editions B), has been completed by the preparatory drawings, the comments of the two artists and a text by the journalist Vincenzo Mollica.

To really be able to appreciate the immense potential of Fellini's work, the script is fortunately left, whose first publication by the publishing house Bompiani in 1995 went relatively unnoticed. The script, by the writer Ermanno Cavazzoni, edited by Quodlibet in Italy in 2008 and in 2011 by the Spanish Blacklist of the Planet group, catches the reader from the front line. Fellini wanted the tape to have a devilish rhythm, without a single moment of rest. The visual language to which he resorts is so precise and evocative that any lover of the director can have the sensation of being literally watching the movie.

Vignette taken from the comic 'El Viaje de G.Mastorna'.

Vignette taken from the comic 'El Viaje de G.Mastorna'.

The felliniano beyond is a replica of the chaos that reigns on Earth in its dream version where everything is familiar and, however, nothing makes sense: crowded streets and train stations where crowds are crowded, advertising signs indecipherable, temples full of fans of all religions, nightclubs, brothels and decadent theaters where absurd and disturbing events take place, such as the "proof of identity" or the grotesque and hypocritical awards ceremony. “What a misery, what a bleak fantasy! So this is death? ”Asks Mastorna desperately.

"The protagonist dies because he fears death and has lost the most authentic meaning of life," said Fellini about Mastorna who is subjected to a metaphysical journey towards the acceptance of death, which can only be achieved by stripping off his prejudices, fears , and conditioning. To accept death, one must accept life, it is in a nutshell, what the teacher wants to convey to us in this work from which a sweet nostalgia for life follows and which could be described as testamentary. Although Fellini didn't take her to the screens, The trip of G. Mastorna impregnated all his later works, since Satyricon (1969), going through Rome (1972), Orchestra Tests (1978), Ginger and Fred (1986), until The voice of the moon (1990), of "a stimulating, captivating presence", which the director confesses, "was not able to do without".

The only available frames of what was to be the most ambitious and insane work of the master can be seen in a short film shot by him for the American network NBC in 1966, Notes from a director (issued in 1969). "This is Mastorna, the hero of my movie .... I had everything ready for the character to materialize ... but I could not manifest ... I kept hiding, escaping, slippery," says the voice in off of Fellini while recording the rehearsals of Marcello Mastroianni in the role of Mastorna, in the studies of De Laurentiis. The director's chamber also stops at the monumental decorations: the reconstruction of the Cologne square and its imposing cathedral, the remains of a line plane, a multi-storey train car left directly from the imagination of Buzzati, who participated in Script writing A series of elements that allows us, if only a little, to approach what would probably have been the most fellinian and intimate work of the master.

Read to Fellini

Federico Fellini, la vita e i film. Tullio Kezich. Feltrinelli, 2002, 417 pages.

The trip of G. Mastorna. Fellini's dream movie. Federico Fellini, Milo Manara. Editions B, 1996, 124 pages.

Mastorna's journey. Blacklist, Grupo Planeta, 2011. Translation by César Palma Hunt. 216 pages


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