Sicily in the cinematographic works of Giuseppe Tornatore.

Sicily, with its wonderful landscapes and its vast cultural richness, has been the inspiration of many directors and screenwriters. Giuseppe Tornatore is one of them, and in his movies he has often portrayed his beloved land, full of wonders and contradictions.

Giuseppe Tornatore is a director and screenwriter very well known and appreciated abroad. Born in Bagheria, in the province of Palermo, in 1956, he has collected numerous awards and has obtained prestigious recognition from both Italian and international audiences and critics.

Nuovo Cinema Paradiso, one of his most famous movies, also won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film.

So here is a selection of Tornatore’s cinematographic masterpieces depicting Sicily’s splendors and contradictions.

Nuovo Cinema Paradiso (Cinema Paradiso)

Written and directed in 1988, Nuovo Cinema Paradiso (Cinema Paradiso) is to be considered one of Italy’s most famous and influential movies.

Through a long flashback, Tornatore brings to the stage the life of the protagonist, Salvatore Di Vita, recalling his childhood and adolescence. The man is an established director who has been living in Rome for more than thirty years and has never returned to his hometown, Giancaldo, in Sicily. The death of Alfredo, the only cinema projectionist in the town and also his mentor, forces Salvatore to revisit his entire life and return to Giancaldo after so many years.

The film has collected numerous awards and has enjoyed considerable international success: suffice it to say that in 1990 Nuovo Cinema Paradiso won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film. The soundtrack is also memorable, composed by Ennio Morricone, in his first collaboration with Giuseppe Tornatore.

The scenes of the film were shot in the province of Palermo, in the characteristic village of Palazzo Adriano.

Stanno tutti bene (Everybody’s Fine)

Directed in 1990, Stanno tutti bene (Everybody’s Fine) also earned international critical acclaim. Shown in the 43rd Cannes Film Festival, the movie was so appreciated, Robert De Niro starred in its American remake.

The protagonist of Tornatore’s movie is Matteo Scuro, played by Marcello Mastroianni, an elderly widower who lives in Sicily and fantasizes about talking to his deceased wife and five children every day.

One day, deciding to visit his grown-up children, the protagonist embarks for mainland Italy, not knowing, however, that his children have not succeeded as he had always believed, being proud of their (false) achievements. For this reason, each of them, upon the visit of the elderly parent, will have to come up with a ploy to hide the truth. Having discovered the bitter reality, once back in Sicily the protagonist is forced to lie to his deceased wife, telling her that “everybody’s fine”.

L’uomo delle stelle (The Star Maker)

Directed in 1995, L’uomo delle stelle (The Star Maker) was nominated for an Oscar in 1996, and went on to collect various awards over the years.

The film is set in 1953 Sicily, in the years after World War II, and tells the story of Joe Morelli, played by an outstanding Sergio Castellitto. The protagonist, aboard a truck, introduces himself to people carrying a camera, promising money and a long cinematic career to anyone who auditions for him. For a fee, of course.

Morelli, in reality, is a con man, but his story is intertwined with that of poor people and of Sicily during the post-war period. Through the protagonist’s journey, Tornatore also captures the beauty of Ragusa with all of its landmarks, up to the beautiful village of Marzamemi, in the province of Syracuse.

Malèna

An Italian-American co-production, the film Malèna was made in 2000. It is set in an imaginary village in Sicily during World War II and tells the story of Malèna, played by Monica Bellucci. This film has also won numerous awards.

Malèna is a young and beautiful woman who has just been informed of her husband’s death on the battlefront; at this point, alone, she must defend herself from the gossip and slander of the townspeople. Renato Amoroso is a thirteen years old boy in love with her and, due to his young age, he cannot confess his feelings. Renato develops a real obsession towards the woman, just like the other men in the village. Without money and affections, Malèna decides to survive by showcasing and conceding her beauty.

Starring, together with Malèna and all her troubles, is Sicily: Tornatore chose to shoot the film mainly in the province of Syracuse. The main scenes are shot in the streets of Ortigia, but there is also Noto with its magnificent Cathedral and the spectacular Scala dei Turchi, the white cliff of Realmonte, in the province of Agrigento.

 

Baarìa

Written and directed in 2009, Baarìa, or Bagheria, owes its title to the town in the province of Palermo, birthplace of the filmmaker. Many of the scenes were shot in Tunisia, but the reconstruction of the town of Bagheria is meticulous.

The film tells the story of a family of Bagheria, tracing the history of three generations and starting from the Thirties, at the height of Fascism, until the Eighties. The various historical events intertwine with the lives of the various protagonists of the Sicilian village: from the Fascist regime to Italy’s entry into the war, the political schisms, the agrarian reform and social revolutions.

The film opened the 66th Venice International Film Festival, and received several nominations and awards. In 2010, for example, it was awarded the Nastro d’Argento of the Year. In addition, Baarìa has obtained several nominations at the David di Donatello Awards, winning the David Giovani and the award for best soundtrack, won by Maestro Morricone.

If you have not yet seen these masterpieces with Sicily as the protagonist in all its beauty, it’s time to catch up as soon as you can: enjoy!

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