One does it so to speak. It is a mad idea but we could try to do it: Torricellans, Trojans and Achaeans on horseback to Troy.

On horseback to Troy

             by Gianni Materazzo 

I throw it in there. It is a very personal idea of mine, in which I want the Friends of Torricella to take part – including the President and the members of the Committee – for the first time now, by means of this journal.

The idea is to remake a film, this time drawing upon Homer and his Heroes. Not before the summer of 1990, of course. A project like this needs a long period of preparation and sufficient application to guarantee an end-product even better than the one we did already.

Let me digress: some people, I don’t know how many, were disappointed with the “Torricellan Promessi Sposi” (Torricellan “The Betrothed”). I can understand them: the authors themselves have doubts about the product: it could have turned out better, have been more polished, faster; of course it has impurities, acting, technical and directorial imperfections, but I can assure you that with the methods available and the time at our disposal, not only could we not have done it any better, but, in the end we achieved far more than it was right to even hope for. For those who have seen the film, want to see it again or still need to see it, I suggest: don’t try to see it in the same way as you’d watch a professional film, otherwise you will be disappointed and you won’t appreciate how much or how little it does have of good, of entertainment, of funniness, genuineness, naivety, unusualness, newness or experimentalism – it’s up to you to choose your own definition – that characterises it.  It would be like eating a “cello[1] (a rustic Torricellan cake[see 1]) whilst thinking about a Sant’Honoré[2] (a fine patisserie style cake[see 2]).

Having said that, and with the exception of the above-mentioned clarifications, the director is quite satisfied with what was done, on a par with those who, having seen the film in the right way, have understood its spirit. With a chunk of big-headedness, I can safely say that the “Promessi Sposi” made in Torricella is even more enjoyable and objectively more valuable than the many rubbish films that are on TV or in the cinemas. End of digression.

To be precise my mad idea is the following: we could try to do it again: strengthened by our previous experience, which will certainly make the job much easier, by helping us to avoid the same mistakes, the lack of authenticity and the obstacles which we ran into. That was our “first time”: we had ventured blind into a complex and arduous undertaking, striving to do our best each day and on every level to resolve – production, techniques, creativity and organisation – problems about which we were totally ignorant. Next time, provided there will be a next time, it will be entirely different.

People might object to it: but why choose another subject in costume and why one with so many characters again? Exactly for the reasons that ought to lead us to reject it: because a costume story is always more imaginative and more colourful; because a saga with lots of Heroes and Gods means that plenty of people can take part in the film.

Needless to say the story can only be hinted at by parodying it. The heroic-comic war, rustic and bungled by a bunch of Achaeans, a sort of Brancaleone’s army[3] that marches to war against Troy, a small village of goatherds and peasants.

Dialect: Ladri traditori! V’aveme accidere! V’aveme abbrucià! A vù e a tutt’ lu paese!

Italian: “Ladri traditori! Vi dobbiamo uccidere! Vi dobbiamo bruciare! A voi ed a tutto il paese!”

English: “Treacherous thieves! We shall kill you! We shall burn you! You and everyone in your village!” those bestialised, shabby warriors shout beneath the walls. Helen, the wife of one them, has been “kidnapped” by Paris, a Trojan – many apologies.

As everyone knows, the story ends very badly: there’s nothing to laugh about at the end. Almost everyone will die, slaughtering each other in ferocious combat or by being betrayed. The village will be taken by force and burnt to the ground following a dirty lie engineered and set in motion by cunning Ulysses.

The prelude will have sickeningly false tones and affectations of a pastoral idyll: in a scene from Arcadia[4], at a banquet, the Gods brawl about the “bone of contention” and to whom they should award it. Juno, Venus, Minerva: who is the most beautiful in the Kingdom? They question Paris, the comely young shepherd – who is instead a boorish half satyr. Venus, the ruffian, corrupts him: I’ll introduce you to Helen if you give the prize to me. In fact the two meet and the beautiful unfaithful woman runs away with the Trojan.

Here the narration takes on epic rhythms – a picturesque epic poem, about undisciplined soldiers of fortune. The Greek Heroes set off to conquer Troy. There they go down to the field: the arrogant Agamemnon, bloodthirsty Achilles, hot-tempered Menelaus; on the other side, Hector, predestined to be defeated, Aeneus and the Amazon Penthesilea[5]. Here they go fighting noisily in furious duels – blood, dust, sweat and clashing of arms – and one after another they all give their souls to Pluto[6].

Finally the tragedy, a caricature of the Aeschylean[7] dramas: with the women intoning funeral dirges in chorus, over the dead bodies of their champions. Dialect:“Maramaje, maramaje, maramaje, mo’ m’accioide, mo’ m’accioide, mo’ m’accioide ‘n golle a taie....”

Italian: “Mamma mia, Mamma mia, Mamma mia, adesso mi uccido, adesso mi uccido, adesso mi uccido, sopra a te....”

English: “Oh Mother, Oh Mother, Oh Mother, now I’ll kill myself, now I’ll kill myself, now I’ll kill myself, on top of you….”.   

One does it so to speak. If anyone wants to do it, raise your hand.

Translator’s Notes:

[1]  cello (singular), celli (plural)

li celli pieni

letteralmente uccelli ripieni perchè nella forma assomigliano a dei passerotti, sono dei dolci ripieni con il sanguinaccio e mandorle tritate

literally means filled birds – these are cakes that look like young sparrows, they are filled with sanguinaccio and chopped almonds


[2]  Saint Honoré cake - There are many versions of the Saint Honoré (or Sant’ Honoré) cake – usually they are highly decorated with cream and chopped nuts and have either a sponge or puff pastry base, depending on the part of the world they are made! One example:-


  [3] Brancaleone – Is the title of the main character and of the lengthy Italian comedy about him, which follows the Quixotic adventures of this gentle and extremely naive character. An important and very famous film was made on this subject in 1966, called L'armata Brancaleone (known in English-speaking countries as For Love and Gold or The Incredible Army of Brancaleone), directed by Mario Monicelli, it features Vittorio Gassman in the main role. Set in the middle ages, Brancaleone sets out on a quest for the Holy Grail. As his adventures proceed, he picks up a strange entourage including a Byzantine knight, a dwarf, an endangered witch, and a masochist who emits cries of delight when Brancaleone kicks him. His army is thus composed of a hotchpotch of really curious and strange characters. The story also pokes gentle fun at the Papacy, and a large portion of the story features the clueless knight's involvement in a conflict between rival Popes Clement and Gregory.

The term Armata Brancaleone is still used today in Italy to define a group of people who are badly assembled. It is in fact mentioned in several dictionaries of Italian language.

Brancaleone is a historical name, meaning lion's paw in heraldry. Brancaleone degli Andalò was a real person, an effective governor of the Middle Ages in Rome.  

[4]  Arcadia - (Greek Αρκαδία) is a region of Greece in the Peloponnese Peninsula. It takes its name from the mythological character Arcas.

Arcadia is the prefecture coloured dark blue on this map of Greece

[5]  Penthesilea - In Greek mythology, Penthesilea (also spelled "Penthesilia") was an Amazonian queen, daughter of Ares and Otrera, sister of Hippolyte, Antiope and Melanippe. Penthesilea killed Hippolyte with a spear when they were hunting deer. According to many accounts, this accident caused Penthesilea so much grief that she wished only to die, but, as a warrior and an Amazon, she must do so honorably and in battle. She therefore was easily convinced to join in the Trojan War, fighting on the side of the city's defenders.

She is said to have been killed by Achilles (or vice-versa, in rarer accounts) in battle. After her death, Achilles found himself awe-struck by her beauty, and when one of the Greek soldiers, Thersites, laughed at him for this, Achilles killed him. After that, more Greeks wanted Achilles to throw Penthesilea's remains into a river, and he eventually had to give way.

[6]  Pluto - is an alternate name for the Greek god Hades, God of the underworld (Hell) but was more often used in Roman mythology in their presentation of the god of the underworld. He abducted Proserpina (Gr. Persephone), and her mother Ceres (Gr. Demeter) caused winter in her grief. He kidnapped Persephone so he could marry her. In later times he was largely seen as synonymous with the Greek god of the underworld Hades. Although often envisioned today as evil (due to the fact of his similarities to the Christian demon Satan), the Romans did not view him as such.

Pluto was originally not the god of the underworld. Pluto is cognate with the Greek word "Ploutos" (wealth), and was considered by the Romans as the giver of gold, silver, and other subterranean substances. Because these "gifts" were mined, Pluto became recognized as the god of the physical underworld, which in turn helped him become recognized as the god of the spiritual underworld and thus death. This brought about his mythological relationship to the Greek god Hades.

[7] Aeschylean - relating to Aeschylus - Greek tragic dramatist (Greek tragedian); the father of Greek tragic drama (525-456 BC); his plays were the first to include two actors in addition to the chorus. Only 7 of his 90 dramas survive, including the Oresteia trilogy.


Translation courtesy of Dr. Marion Apley Porreca   

© Amici di Torricella         Year I       No 2  May 1989  page 12