Pulcinella, an Italian pantomime in Paris

Article published on Nov. 3, 2008
community published
Article published on Nov. 3, 2008
Maurizio Scaparro’s L’Ultimo Pulcinella [trailer] is the closing film of the Rome Film Festival. The rather Italian story focuses on a father-son relationship against the background of the theatre. Though the two protagonists are Neapolitans, most of the story actually takes place in Paris.

Massimo Ranieri stars as the middle-aged actor Michelangelo, who is specialised in the Neapolitan Pulcinella figure. His son Francesco (Domenico Balsamo) flees to Paris after witnessing a Comorra crime, and Michelango follows him, even though he does not speak a word of French.

With the help of an old friend, French university professor Dorient (Jean Sorel), and an ageless French actress (Adriana Asti) who lives in an abandoned theatre, the two put on a show that will not only reinvigorate a multi-ethnic Parisian banlieue but also their difficult father-son rapport.

Scaparro, who co-wrote as well as directed the film, explains that L’Ultimo Pulcinella is a “film about the gap between two generations, about a son who escapes from Naples because his father is stuck playing the Pulcinella character only to move to the Parisian banlieues, another difficult area, where Pulcinella is able to close the gap between father and son and between cultures and people”. The film is also about the power of theatre, as it “creates a space for youngsters to sing and dream”.

The film was produced by Compagnia Italiana, Faro Film and RAI Cinema, with backing from the Italian Cultural Ministry, the Umbria Film Commission and the Campania Film Commission. It will be distributed in Italy by Bolero Film, while RAI Trade handles international sales.

Boyd van Hoeij cineuropa.org