A tribute to Vittorio Gassman on the 10th anniversary of his death

Ten years after the death of Vittorio Gassman, la Biennale di Venezia and the Venice International Film Festival pay tribute to one of the most extraordinary personalities of Italian cinema with a special program that includes: the world premiere screening in the Sala Perla on September 1st (Gassman’s birth day) of Vittorio racconta Gassman, una vita da Mattatore (80’), a “film-confession by Vittorio Gassman”, full of heretofore unseen material and produced by Giancarlo Scarchilli with the collaboration of Alessandro Gassman himself; the screening in the Arena of Campo San Polo on August 31 of the restored version of Scent of a Woman (Profumo di Donna, 1974) by Dino Risi, with Vittorio Gassman (Best Actor at Cannes and David di Donatello), Alessandro Momo and Agostina Belli, in the version prepared by the Cineteca Nazionale.

The evening in Campo San Polo on August 31 is organized in collaboration with the Comune di Venezia – Circuito Cinema Comunale, and with the Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia – Cineteca Nazionale di Roma which supplied the copy of Scent of a Woman (Profumo di Donna).

Vittorio racconta Gassman, una vita da Mattatore, conceived by Alessandro Gassman with Giancarlo Scarchilli, who directed the film, is a highly original feature-length documentary that reconstructs the human and professional career of the “Mattatore” (i.e. star performer. Gassman’s nickname after the 1959 Dino Risi film Il Mattatore – int’l title: Love and Larceny), using original materials, repertory clips, family films, and above all, through the voice of Vittorio Gassman himself and his son Alessandro, with the “special participation” of important colleagues and friends. Starting with Vittorio Gassman’s theatre experience, from his 1952 Hamlet and accompanied by Alessandro Gassman’s voice narration, the film takes its viewers by the hand and leads them – through various levels of time and location – to the places and memories beloved by the great Vittorio. Unpublished documents, interviews, clips from popular or forgotten films, repertory clips from the Teche Rai (like the historic one-man TV show Mattatore in 1959, or rare recently-discovered materials, concerning the auto-biography of Vittorio Gassman): these are just some of the elements that compose the film. About forty stars from the world of entertainment have been called upon to give their own original recollection-tributes, including: Agostina Belli, Sergio Castellitto, Dino De Laurentiis, Giancarlo Giannini, Roberto Herlitzka, Mario Monicelli, Ornella Muti, Jacques Perrin, Anna Proclemer, Gigi Proietti, Francesco Rosi, Ettore Scola, Jean-Louis Trintignant, Carlo Verdone, and Paolo Virzì.

“A film that intends to dispel many of the stereotypes about my father,” Alessandro Gassman has declared, “Such as the fact that he was the last of the classical actors, when he was above all the greatest of the innovators”.

Scent of a Woman (Profumo di donna, 1974) by Dino Risi, from the novel “Il buio e il miele” by Giovanni Arpino, and adapted by the director with Ruggero Maccari, has Gassman in the role – which became famous all over the world – of Captain Fausto Consolo, left blind after an accident, who conceals his pain behind the mask of a cynical playboy who refuses the pity of others. A soldier (the late lamented Alessandro Momo) accompanies him in a journey from Turin to Naples, at the end of which he has planned to kill himself. But the friendship of the young soldier and the love of a disinterested young woman (Agostina Belli) change his mind. Vittorio Gassman won the prize as Best Actor at Cannes and the David di Donatello for this interpretation. The film won Oscar nominations for Best Foreign Film and Best Screenplay. The extraordinary international success of the film paved the way for a Hollywood remake, Scent of a Woman by Martin Brest, with Al Pacino – who won the Oscar as Best Actor – in the role that once belonged to Gassman.