Tinto Brass: «Stefania Sandrelli? She was shameless. On sex in Italy we are still bigots … “

In his autobiography, A free passion (Marsilio)written together with his wife Caterina Varzi, Tinto Brass summarizes the meaning of his being an artist: “Eros is liberationrejection of hypocrisy as a profession and respectability of right and left, liberation from the arrogance of Power, rebellion against fear that extinguishes dreams and takes hope away with dreams ». Anarchist, libertarian, passionate, eternally discussed and censored, the Italian master of eros is the protagonist of the exhibition Mon amour in brass(from 21 May to 12 June) set up at Villa Bottini, in Lucca, on the occasion of the Photolux Festival, which this year has love as its theme. Born from an idea of ​​Fabio Macaluso, and curated by Caterina Varzi, Enrico Stefanelli, Chiara Ruberti, Francesco Colombelli and Rica Cerbarano, the exhibition unfolds through 120 photographs and unpublished documents (such as scripts, sketches of sets and costumes, polaroid specimens, posters, letters), all from the private archive of Brass. A path that will lead to contact with the most curious aspects of his works, but also to discover the relationship with the actors and private life.

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Tinto Brass, the photos on display at the Photolux Festival

Alberto Moravia has followed his cinema for years with great interest, calling it “an ideologue of sex”, that is, an artist who tries to eliminate the sense of guilt, in order to reach an innocent sex. Do you agree with this definition?

«If Moravia said so! The fact that he followed me closely presupposes a certain affinity. During our long conversations I had the strong feeling that eroticism was also for him a key to interpreting reality ».

Venice and Paris are two places that in the years of his formation, both as a man and as an artist, have counted a lot. Why these two cities?

«I was born in Milan, but a deep bond binds me to Venice. I fed on its culture, history, language and tradition. Even with the irremediable changes it has undergone over time, it remains for me the “sexe femelle d’Europe”, as Apollinaire called it. The meaning and the signifier of my cinema derive in large part from my relationship with this intriguing city. Water, light, views and inverted perspectives are elements that characterize it and are obsessively repeated in my films. At some point, after graduating in law, I decided to go to Paris. At the end of the 1950s, the Parisian reality was very lively. At the Cinémathèque Française, where I took care of the archives, I met the great documentarian Ioris Ivens and Roberto Rossellini. From them I learned everything I know about editing and cinema “.

Many tend to divide his career into two phases: the first is more linked to the cinema of commitment and anarchic and radical opposition to Power, while the second is that of erotic films. It seems to me a stretch: already in your first film, “In whom he works is lost” (1963), the investigation on the theme of sexuality is present, and then what is more “subversive” than sexual freedom and happiness?

Stefania Sandrelli in The Key
Stefania Sandrelli in The Key

«I have said it many times. In my films there is no break between a serious and militant first period and a frivolous and superficial second period. It was always the language that interested me. I do not consider my erotic films to be minor at all. Eroticism conveys a social and political criticism, expressing my inextinguishable search for freedom on a different level ».

In the late 1960s she was working on an adaptation of A Clockwork Orange, which featured Mick Jagger as Alex. Can you tell us something about this never-completed project?

“The Paramount producers invited me to the US to propose the film adaptation of the Anthony Burgess novel. I had accepted the proposal of the American house with the intention of assigning Mick Jagger the role of Alex Delarge. But on condition that you shoot first The screamI was already working on. When I returned to Italy the project was proposed to Kubrick. I have no regrets, though. The scream it is a film that I particularly care about. Gigi Proietti, in addition to being the protagonist, also collaborated in the writing of the dialogues together with Giancarlo Fusco. And working with Proietti and Tina Aumont, the female interpreter, was a truly exciting experience ».

In “The Flying Saucer” (1964) you worked with Monica Vitti. In that film he has an unusually comic role for her, who in those years was Antonioni’s muse. So was it you, and not Monicelli, who discovered this still unexpressed inclination?

“I was immediately aware of Monica’s surprising panache and cast her the brilliant role of Dolores, the mayor’s wife. The goal was to create a film capable of combining social satire with libidinous fantasies, summarized by Monica’s iconic line “Dime porca che mi piase de più”, in response to the poetic rhymes of the lover, played by Alberto Sordi. The girl with the gun it was shot by Monicelli in 1968, four years after my film ».

With “The key” in 1983 he gives a new turning point to his career and chooses Stefania Sandrelli. Why her?

«Stefania is a great actress and she was even before acting with me. I just pulled out of her and exhibited her sensual charge. She was perfect in the lead role. In the audition she showed herself shameless and strongly determined to make the film. And then she has another great merit. She never disowned me, defending me The key with pride, proud of having shown her colleagues that she can also act with the butt ».

You who have shown and told the sexuality of Italians and Italians for decades, how do you see it today? Are there still any taboos? Do you think virtual reality will permanently free sex or, on the contrary, mortify it?

“Although we are told the opposite, we are still bigots. Morals about sex have changed very little. And in some respects we are turning back. Suffice it to say that even today if you want to avoid being the object of ridicule or violence, you have to hide your sexual orientation. There is no censorship in the imagination and virtual reality is just an extension of the experience of sex. It can be engaging and interesting, as long as it doesn’t lead to total detachment from real sex and dating. No technology is able to offer the emotions of a real relationship ».


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May 15, 2022 | 08:02


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