Wed. Dec 11th, 2019

The success of television Montalbano that 'dinner' with the Italians | Culture

The pleasure of the visits tends to be annoying when they transform surprise into recidivism. But Commissioner Montalbano, an elegant and discreet man, sat down to dinner at the table of hundreds of thousands of Italian families for two decades without anyone making a face. The series of Andrea Camilleri's most famous work, produced and aired on the Rai since 1999, a television product that this year has faced its thirteenth season, is the most influential and longest on the air of Italy. Its overwhelming success has also made it the most followed in the history of the country, a social and television phenomenon that allowed the producer to sell it to 60 countries and spread the legend of the famous inspector around the world. In some places, like the United Kingdom, it has even leaked among the 20 most watched programs.

Camilleri, a man of unusual humility and simplicity among the authors who reach the commercial and critical consensus, never managed to decipher or accept the success of his novels or the series, set in the imaginary city of Vigatà, but shot partly in Sicilian towns of the province of Ragusa as Scicli (there is the famous pharmacy). The millionaire sales of the saga and royalties of his television version allowed him, among other things, to devote himself without commercial pressure to one of his great passions: the historical novel. "It's a disgusting blackmail," joked the writer explaining why his character would haunt him until the last day of his life.

Commissioner Montalbano, for whose chapters it has presented current issues such as corruption or the problem of migration, it is so famous in Italy that it can even contribute to winning a primary election. The newly elected general secretary of the PD, Nicola Zingaretti, a man without excessive charisma or magnetism, is the brother of the protagonist of the series (Luca Zingaretti). In addition to the surname, they bear an amazing resemblance and many last March, when they imposed their internal rivals in the Social Democratic elections, they thought they appreciated an extra boost to their career from the hand of the commissar: in Ragusa, Montalbanesque lands, Zingaretti took the 90% of the votes.

The influence of the series, however, also had an impact on Camilleri himself and his way of dealing with daily work (in recent times he had to dictate because of his blindness). The author always said that he ran the risk that the images and the plots of the television product would modify his way of approaching the books, his original approach to the new stories. The author had an excellent relationship with the protagonist of the series, which has devoted a long and heartfelt farewell to their social networks. "I will miss you, above all, because in these years in which I have crossed my life with that of the commissioner, you have been a friend. I had the feeling that a stroke of your pencil was enough to change my life. I have lived with you what you had created. I have learned a lot, respect for people, for all of them for themselves, and for the weakest. (…) Goodbye, teacher, friend, let the earth be mild to you. Yours, Luca. "

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