A MAS­TROIANNI LIFE

All About Italy (USA) - - Editorial - Elisa Rodi

This is the story of a man who be­came a sym­bol: of male beauty with­out any de­sire to be so, of tal­ent with­out hav­ing any pre­ten­tion to it. Mar­cello Mas­troianni made his exit from the world of movies 20 years ago, leav­ing us with a price­less im­print on the art of film and with an end­less nos­tal­gia.

There are eras whose val­ues echo through time, and which seem so beau­ti­ful in ret­ro­spect that they are dif­fi­cult to re­peat, mak­ing com­par­i­son with them al­ways un­fair and evok­ing in­evitable feel­ings of nos­tal­gia. When the name of Mar­cello Mas­troianni comes up, even Mil­len­ni­als who con­sider them­selves dig­i­tal na­tives and be­lieve that cin­ema is down­load­able can, for a mo­ment, re­treat into an­other era out of rev­er­ence. Twenty years ago in De­cem­ber, Mar­cello Mas­troianni passed away in his home in Paris from a can­cer that for a long time he feared above all be­cause it could pre­vent him from be­ing him­self in the movies. The most in­va­sive ter­ror was that if he knew about this dis­ease it might pre­vent him from still act­ing, and no pain can be greater than tak­ing from an artist his art. More­over, it was Mas­troianni him­self who claimed that act­ing was “bet­ter than mak­ing love,” af­ter hav­ing con­trib­uted to mak­ing it more hu­man, less elit­ist, and more that just a game: play­ing at be­ing some­one else, this was Mar­cello’s cin­ema.

And the art of play­ing had re­sulted in a sit­u­a­tion where Mas­troianni had over time learned to for­get about be­ing an artist, so that he moved on set as he did in real life, with sim­plic­ity and dis­cre­tion. It was not our of false mod­esty, but out of nat­u­ral­ness and lev­ity that he sud­denly took off the shoes of that “bel Mar­cello” whom Anita Ek­berg in­voked aloud while im­mersed in the Trevi Foun­tain. And while his notable lazi­ness most likely con­trib­uted noth­ing in giv­ing life to a not-too el­e­gant ego­cen­trism, that same lazi­ness al­most cer­tainly con­ferred upon him with­out any vis­i­ble ef­fort that se­duc­tive fas­ci­na­tion which en­tranced so many of the world’s most beau­ti­ful women.

He only mar­ried once, and never di­vorced: Flora Cara­bella, who gave birth to his first-born Bar­bara, was his first and only wife, although he had other lovers with­out ever di­vorc­ing her, even

when he met Faye Du­n­away, with whom he starred in Vit­to­rio De Sica’s A Place for Lovers, And that ti­tle was cer­tainly farsighted. Af­ter her came many oth­ers, in­clud­ing Cather­ine Deneuve, who was both a de­light and a cross to bear in his life, and with whom he had a daugh­ter, Chiara Mas­troianni, who al­ways nour­ished a deep af­fec­tion for her fa­ther. Other women fol­lowed, un­til his last part­ner, the di­rec­tor An­na­maria Tato, last port of call of a life stud­ded with tor­mented love sto­ries.

And still, Mas­troianni was sin­cere when he said: “there are sur­vey­ors who have had more love sto­ries than me.” He ran from the la­bel of Latin Lover be­cause he felt that it didn’t fit him at all, and it was per­fectly in char­ac­ter that he didn’t hes­i­tate when asked to in­ter­pret the part of an im­po­tent char­ac­ter (Il bell’an­to­nio) or a gay man (A Spe­cial Day).

Cin­ema counted as his most over­whelm­ing pas­sion, and his over 170 films in 58 years give the mea­sure of the great­ness of his ca­reer. He en­tranced women, of course, but es­pe­cially direc­tors, the same ones who gave him his cel­e­brated roles and con­trib­uted to mak­ing him one of the most mul­ti­fac­eted ac­tors in the his­tory of cin­ema. First of all, Fed­erico Fellini, for whom Mas­troianni pro­vided the coun­ter­part in front of the cam­era; it’s no ac­ci­dent that his 8 ½ gave Mar­cello the keys to the cin­e­mato­graphic Olym­pus.

From that point on, his ca­reer knew only went up with­out any set­back: he be­came a so­cial­ist in­tel­lec­tual in Mario Mon­i­celli’s film The Or­ga­nizer, formed one of the most suc­cess­ful cou­ples in Ital­ian film to­gether with Sophia Loren, with whom he starred in (among so many oth­ers): Ieri, oggi e do­mani, Mar­riage Ital­ian Style and I gi­ra­soli, all di­rected by De Sica; and Et­tore Scola’s A Spe­cial Day, where he gave one of his best per­for­mances. Nom­i­nated three times for an Os­car as Best Ac­tor, he won two Golden Globes, eight Davids, eight Sil­ver Rib­bons, five Globi d’oro, a Ciak d’oro and, in 1990, a Golden Lion for his ca­reer.

Cin­ema gave gen­er­ously to Mas­troianni and he

Twenty years af­ter the death of one of the record-break­ing men of Ital­ian cin­ema, a portrait to re­mem­ber the life in art, with art and for art of Mar­cello Mas­troianni

re­turned the fa­vor, but he also of­fered his art in the the­ater, which he never aban­doned and in which he chose to con­clude his ca­reer, with a fi­nal role that also served as a tes­ta­ment to his bound­less tal­ent: Le ul­time lune.

Hol­ly­wood con­stantly tried to at­tract him to its sets, but he looked at that world with de­tach­ment—not out of snob­bery, but be­cause of a lu­cid ad­mi­ra­tion for Ital­ian tal­ent that led him to rhetor­i­cally ask: “The best films of to­day have been made in Italy: why, then, should I leave Rome?”

It was folly to con­sider him wrong in this. His cin­ema oeu­vre is one of the great­est Ital­ian con­tri­bu­tions to a his­tor­i­cal pe­riod that re­mains un­sur­passed for ten­sions, free­dom and in­tel­li­gence. All one needs is to look at the im­ages that flow in Mar­cello Mas­troianni: I Re­mem­ber to un­der­stand the art of Mas­troianni’s life and the art-filled life that passed though him. This doc­u­men­tarycon­fes­sion di­rected by his part­ner An­na­maria Tatò con­tains every­thing: his sense of hu­mor, his ret­i­cence, his ten­dency to play things down and his mem­ory of a full ex­is­tence.

And in spite of the ill­ness at the end of his life, Mar­cello Vin­cenzo Domenico Mas­troianni, as he was chris­tened, con­sid­ered his life rich, to the point where, on his last birth­day shortly be­fore his death, he said: “To­day is my birth­day; I’m 72 years old. Well, it’s a good age. When I was 20, imag­in­ing a 72-year-old man, I would have seen him as an old geezer. But I don’t feel that old: per­haps be­cause I have had the luck to work, with­out rest. I be­lieve that I have done more than 170 films: a nice record. So I’ve filled my life well; I can be happy. I in­sist: I’ve been lucky”.

Yes, Mar­cello Mas­troianni was lucky, and we were and are lucky to have had him in our lives, for that artis­tic her­itage he left to us, for those mas­ter­pieces that daily make the idea of beauty clear to us. He left us a con­tri­bu­tion to the his­tory of cin­ema and the mem­ory of a face full of life and art.

Mar­cello Mas­troianni With E. De Filippo. Photo by Emilio Lari With Fed­erico Fellini and Sophia Loren dur­ing „8 ½“ „La Dolce Vita“with Anita Ek­berg

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