A film by Serena Corvaglia
Based on a letter by Vittorio Gassman
I have been in Rome for a few days, and I’m already writing to you. I love writing to friends; in the years at the academy, I of among about ten friends, not satisfied to stay together night and day sharing ideas, books, wine and girls, no less than a thousand handwritten letters were exchanged, a huge epistolary of eleven voices, which unfortunately went missing in the several moves and fate.
I often look back to the Forties, still full of war and fascism but fervent with art plans and utopias. Years where it was necessary to learn the art of being content, which we do not see with the current generation: we wore in a clumsy manner clothes which had been mended several times, going out for a pizza in a “trattoria” was a luxury, and at home we ate more chestnut pancakes than caviar. But in our chests the bell of reckless youth was ringing in a foreboding manner, the wait little by little turned into hope, till the liberating year ’45, till the postwar fireworks. The postwar had even less luxury, but full of opportunities, everything seemed possible for everyone: to cooperate for democracy (!), to be famous in the theatre, drink Coca-Cola, to own a small car. My first “cinquecento” car crashed against a stone post one evening I got drunk; but no other engine is happily singing in my memories: at the end of the Sixties I drove a dizzying Porsche, but I knew that the fancy party – i.e. fun – was over for always.
To cross Rome we need one and a half hours instead of twenty minutes, the old citizens of Rome were overcrowded by migrants, taxi drivers from Abruzzi angry like bulls, bitter policemen with terrible accent. And of course the television which showed the first cataclysms and the theatre which turned into a meeting hall, and…, and… Still the cinema was holding up, I made at that time movies which were among my best movies, “Profumo di donna” (Scent of a woman), “C’eravamo tanto amati” (We all loved each other so much) with Manfredi and Fabrizi. During the breaks – I remember – Aldo (Fabrizi) used to cook for the technical staff and himself pots of “penne all’amatriciana” and soundly used to express his political theories, not really neoliberal.
The Eighties. After the tough times, the farce. Corruption and consumerism laid the foundations for the Rome of today. How ugly Rome is! Ugly with its blinding beauty, on which the signs of breakdown show up like a beetroot birthmark on a quintessential face.
No one sees anyone anymore; intellectuals make laze about, and louts work hard for the illusion of having fun in the stench of the nights, in the cinemas with bad sound, fighting at the stadium. Television replaced reality, if you don’t appear on TV it’s like you lost your ID card: “la coda alla vaccinara” (typical Roman meat dish) tastes of hamburger…
Someone could say: “Don’t give a damn, isn’t your need of beauty a little bit presumptuous? You are not the champion of civilization”. You’re right, I’m not an aesthete, but there is something savage in the wounds which spread ugliness: I really think that for a person like me, who modestly worked on art materials, beauty is not an accessory but a need, an essential nutritional element. And luckily, a lot of people still think the same way, the match is not finished yet.
Yours, in any case Roman and Roma football team supporter