An older man is tied to youth with frenzied sex and drugs, although he begins to suffer from some senile symptoms: he looks for rats that others do not see in a citadel from which he cannot leave.
The elderly Gabriele D'Annunzio (Pescara, 1863-Gardone Riviera, 1938) is a double character, as shown by the director Gianluca Jodice in
The Poet and the Spy,
which opens this Friday.
Sergio Castellitto (Rome, 67 years old) interprets the last years of this man who was a writer admired by authors such as James Joyce or Marcel Proust and, at the same time, the military man who inspired fascism by leading the invasion and conquest of the Croatian city from Rijeka - then called Fiume - in 1919. The actor, who for the film was characterized as a bald and ailing man, shows off his hair again in a video call in which he conveys his passion for D'Annunzio: “He was a genius with all his contradictions, he was a fascist and, at the same time, an anti-fascist ”.
The festival of the living cinema and the dead poets
D'Annunzio, the messianic hero
The film, set in the 1930s, focuses on the relationship that D'Annunzio establishes with the young federal secretary Giovanni Comini (Francesco Patanè), who must watch over the writer so that he does not harm Italy's alliance with Nazi Germany, since he is opposed to relations with Hitler. "They lock him up in the Vittoriale degli italiani, a golden prison, and fill him with wealth so that he stays quiet, so that he doesn't represent a problem, because he was a very listened person," says the actor and also a director of films like
Castellitto exposes the evolution of D'Annunzio: “He was totally against fascism in his last life stage. That does not mean that at an early stage it was akin to Mussolini's party, in fact they had mutual appreciation ". He defends that this historical period be portrayed without the need to enter the moral, only by the creative will. “I am against any form of censorship and against the risk of being politically correct. Do you remember the movie
? The character who played the Indian, Peter Sellers, had his face painted dark. I wonder if today it would generate criticism from the public. We have to ask ourselves where is freedom, where is censorship and what are its limits ”, questions the protagonist of
"Artists have to aspire to freedom," he replies.
The actor considers that the writer gave Italy the ability to scandalize, not only with his attitude: “We all know his obsession with sex, with the female gender, his great love for Eleonora Duse. I speak rather of the scandal that his writing gives off; his ability to invent words, images, to analyze the spirit in a very detailed way. I think that the great poets are a bit provincial, they are born from a very small dimension and gradually grow to become giants ”. He does not find anyone who compares to him, who is capable of founding a republic as he did, "in which he gave women the right to vote and established sexual freedom." He considers him a person 50 or 100 years ahead of his time. He is not the only one, he was nicknamed
"He said that the true masterpiece was his life," recalls the actor about D'Annunzio's extensive career, in which he combined work as a novelist, playwright, journalist and politician.
The artist's diminished aspirations can be summed up in a phrase from the protagonist of
The Poet and the Spy
: “You realize that what you had imagined on paper seems banal, stupid.
Language makes what is intimate strange.
Same with politics ”.
D'Annunzio was not directly involved in the Italian fascist governments;
he spent his last days dedicated to writing, and was recognized among the most reputable of the twentieth century.
In addition to having written the script for the
Cabiria peplum (
wrote novels such as
This book caught the attention of Castellitto's 27-year-old son during the filming of his father.
“He told me that he was impressed with the beauty of the novel.
And it was and continues to be modern, "he says.
D'Annunzio's concern was precisely getting old, a common fear that rages against those who, like him, “base their lives on their physical and sexual strength”.
Castellitto expresses that when the military man feels that he has reached the twilight of his life, he maintains - in an almost pathetic way - the icons that have marked him, such as cocaine or women.
Even so, two feelings permeate the character: "The melancholy and decadence, which was always attached to him."