Writer. Nationality: Italian. Born: Antonio Guerra in Sant'Arcangelo, Romagna, 16 March 1920. Education: Degree in education. Family: Married Lora Iabloskina. Career: 1956—first script for film, Uomini e Lupi; also author of verse and fiction.
Films as Writer:
Uomini e lupi (Men and Wolves) (De Santis)
Un ettaro di cielo (Casadio)
Cesta duga godinu dana (La strada lunga un'anno) (De Santis)
Le signore (Vasile); La garçonnière (De Santis) La notte (The Night) (Antonioni); Il carro armata dell'otto settembre (Puccini)
L'assassino (The Lady Killer of Rome) (Petri)
I giorni contati (Petri); L'eclisse (Eclipse) (Antonioni)
La noia (The Empty Canvas) (Damiani)
Gli invincibili sette (The Secret Seven) (De Martino); Il Deserto rosso (The Red Desert) (Antonioni); "Una donna dolce dolce" ep. of La Donna è una cosa meravigliosa (Bolognini); Le ore nude (Vicario); Matrimonio all'italiana (Marriage, Italian Style) (De Sica); "Una donna d'affari" ep. of Controsesso (Castellani); Saul e David (Saul and David) (Baldi)
Casanova '70 (Monicelli); I grandi condottieri (Baldi); La decima vittima (The Tenth Victim) (Petri)
Blow-up (Antonioni); "Fata Armenia" ep. of Le fate (The Queens) (Monicelli)
C'era una volta (More than a Miracle) (Rosi); Lo scatenato (Catch as Catch Can) (Indovina); L'occhio selvaggio (The Wild Eye) (Cavara)
Un tranquillo posto di campagna (A Quiet Place in the Country) (Petri); Sissignore (Tognazzi); Amanti (A Place for Lovers) (De Sica)
L'Invitata (De Seta); In Search of Gregory (Wood)
I girasoli (Sunflower) (De Sica); Zabriskie Point (Antonioni); Tre nel mille (Indovina); Uomini contro (Rosi); Giochi particolari (Indovina)
La supertestimone (Giraldi)
Il caso Mattei (The Mattei Affair) (Rosi); Gli ordini sono ordini (Giraldi); Bianco, rosso, e . . . (White Sister) (Lattuada)
Lucky Luciano (Rosi)
Amarcord (Fellini); Dites-le avec les fleurs (Grimblat)
Quaranta gradi all'ombra del lenzuolo (Martino)
Cadaveri eccellenti (Illustrious Corpses) (Rosi); Caro Michele (Monicelli)
Un Papillon sur l'épaule (Deray); Letti selvaggi (Zampa)
Cristo si è fermato a Eboli (Christ Stopped at Eboli) (Rosi); Il mistero di Oberwald (The Oberwald Mystery) (Antonioni)
La notte di San Lorenzo (The Night of San Lorenzo) (P. & V. Taviani); Tre fratelli (Rosi)
Identificazione di una donna (Antonioni)
E la nave va (And the Ship Sails On) (Fellini); Nostalghia (Tarkovsky)
Carmen (Rosi); Kaos (Chaos) (P. & V. Taviani)
Henry IV (Enrico IV) (Bellocchio); Taxidi sta kithira (Angelopoulos)
Good Morning Babilonia (Hollywood Sunset; Good Morning Babylon) (P. and V. Taviani); Ginger e Fred (Fellini); O Melissokomos (The Beekeeper) (Angelopoulos)
Cronaca di una morte annunciata (Chronicle of a Death Foretold) (Rosi)
Topio stin omichli (Landscape in the Mist; Le Paysage dans le brouillard; Landschaft im Nebel) (Angelopoulos); Il frullo del passero (La femme de mes amours) (Mingozzi)
Burro (Sanchez); Dimenticare Palermo (To Forget Palermo; Oublier Palerme; The Palermo Connection) (Rosi)
Il sole anche di notte (Die Nachtsonne; The Sun Also Shines at Night; Nightsun; Il sole di notte) (P. and V. Taviani); Stanno tutti bene (Everybody's Fine; Ils vont tous bien) (Tornatore)
Viaggio d'amore (Journey of Love) (Fabbri); To meteoro vima to Pelargou (Suspended Step of the Stork; Le Pas suspendu de la cicogne; Meteoro vima tou Pelargou) (Angelopoulos); La Domenica specialmente (Especially on Sunday) (Tornatore)
The Petrified Garden (Gitai)
To vlemma tou odyssea (Lo sguardo di Ulisse; Le regard d'Ulysse) (Angelopoulos); Al di là delle nuvole (Beyond the clouds; Par delà les nuages) (Antonioni and Wenders)
La Tregua (The Truce) (Rosi)
Tajna Marchello (Marcello's Secret) (Naumov); Porto Santo (Vicente Jorge Silva)
Mia aiwniothta kai mia mera (Eternity and a Day) (Angelopoulos); Tierra del fuego (Littin)
By GUERRA: books—
L'equilibrio, Milan, 1967; as Equilibrium, London, 1969.
L'uomo parallelo, Milan, 1969.
With Antonioni and Elio Bartolini, L'avventura (script), New York, 1969.
I bu (I buoi), Milan, 1972.
With Federico Fellini, Amarcord, Milan 1973; as Amarcord: Portrait of a Town, London, 1974.
I cento uccelli, Milan, 1974.
Il polverone, Milan, 1978.
E' mel (Il miele), Rimini, 1981.
I guardatori della luna, Milan, 1981.
With Antonioni, L'Aquilone: Una favola del nostro tempo, Rimini, 1982.
Il Leone dalla barba bianca, Milan, 1983.
La pioggia tiepida, Milan, 1984.
La capanna . . . poema d'amore in dialetto santarcangiolese, Rimini, 1985.
With Gunter Roland, Aufbruch in TroïsDorf, Essen, 1992.
By GUERRA: articles—
Image et Son (Paris), December 1973.
Positif (Paris), February 1979.
Positif (Paris), October 1983.
Iskusstvo (Moscow), May 1985.
Positif (Paris), February 1986.
Positif (Paris), November 1988.
EPD Film (Frankfurt), vol. 7, no. 3, March 1990.
Kosmorama (Denmark), vol. 34, no. 206, 1993.
EPD Film (Frankfurt), vol. 10, no. 9, September 1993.
Avant-Scène Cinéma (Paris), February 1996.
Positif (Paris), February 1996.
On GUERRA: books—
Seminario popolare su Tonino Guerra e la poesia dialettale romagnola, Ravenna, 1976.
Tonino Guerra, Rimini, 1985.
On GUERRA: articles—
Film Guia, May 1975.
Film Dope, no. 22, March 1981.
Iskusstvo Kino (Moscow), May 1985.
Iskusstvo Kino (Moscow), No. 8, 1994.
Positif (Paris), February 1996.
* * *
Tonino Guerra first became creatively involved in cinema when he collaborated with Elio Petri and Giuseppe De Santis on the script of the latter's Uomini e lupi in 1956. Three years later he worked with Antonioni on L'avventura, beginning a remarkable partnership that was to stretch all the way through to Identificazione di una donna and Al di là delle nuvole. Before, however, one is tempted to read the bleakness and introversion of these films as a Guerra stylistic hallmark, it is worth noting that in 1967, with C'era una volta, he launched another series of incredibly fruitful collaborations, this time with Francesco Rosi, in such lucid works of "dramatic clarification" as Il caso Mattei, Lucky Luciano, and Cadaveri eccellenti. Before applying the label "political writer," though, one should bear in mind Guerra's remark that he considers the films of Fellini (with whom he worked on Amarcord, E la nave va, and Ginger e Fred) just as political as the seemingly more obvious examples. He has also enjoyed ongoing creative relationships with Elio Petri and the Taviani brothers, as well as working with Tarkovsky (Nostalgia), Angelopoulos (Taxidi sta kithira) and Bellocchio (Henry IV). Indeed, in terms of the Italian cinema at least, it might be easier to list the notable films on which he hasn't worked!
Guerra has stated that "I am different from all the filmmakers I've worked with, and I think that I've a different face for each of them." On the other hand this should not be taken as a denial of his own authorial role, and he is extremely critical of the low status customarily allotted to the writer in the Italian cinema. As he said in an interview: "in Italy, only the director counts. There are, of course, five or six author-directors who write their own scenarios, and what I'm saying here doesn't apply to them. But if, on the other hand, you think of the 240 films which are made here every year then it's absurd to talk only of their directors. . . . In my opinion, when it's a matter of a true 'auteur,' then the author of the film is the director. But in the case of the 240 films produced here each year the author, in most instances is the scenarist."
Of course, Guerra is fortunate enough to have worked with all the author-directors, but it is also interesting to note that he actually considers his poetry the most important of his numerous accomplishments. As he stated in Positif: "in my life I have attempted to be a poet. Being a scenarist is a secondary occupation. So every time a film project presents itself I look for a way of saying things through poetic suggestion. I try to suggest a poetic mode." If, however, his scenarios are full of poetry, "everything I write—including the poems—is full of images. Writing is like the essence of the image. Everybody who reads invents their own images. But in cinema the director imposes his own choices; cinema is very possessive. I like films which succeed in making audiences work, films which, by appealing to their imaginations, give them the possibility to be creative. Books are a hundred thousand films at the same time, because each reader invents their own images." Hence, of course, his predilection for directors who "always leave spaces open." Antonioni immediately springs to mind here rather than Rosi, and indeed Guerra has remarked that "at the beginning there was a big difference between Rosi and me. He turned this limpid but sharp eye on reality. As I've always said, his shoes are so shiny they're like two violins; mine are rather less so." On the other hand, Tre fratelli is one of both director's and writer's most suggestive and resonant works, representing a particularly felicitous and productive director-writer match.
There's also a particularly close link here with Guerra's poetry, because, as he has pointed out "what interested me here is this feeling of farewell—one of the fundamental themes of my poetry—farewell to the peasant world, to the peasant civilisation, this feeling of a way of life which we are in the process of losing." Guerra grew up in Sant'Arcangelo in Romagna (the region in which Amarcord is set) and his first publication was a book of poems in the local dialect, later followed by many others. It is possible to see a loose connection with Pasolini here, but there is none of the latter's rather dubious idealization of the peasantry, rather, a haunting sense of transience and irrevocable change.
Guerra's creative acts always communicate a sense of amazement, mystery, and fascination before the world. Nevertheless, his stories are rooted in Earth precisely because the peasant world has a common language that allows him to be at ease in environments as varied as Georgia, Greece, and Italy. These last years he has isolated himself in Pennabilli, a hill on the Adriatic side of the Appenines and he works only with those directors who continue to visit him. He has lately discovered the theater and writes short plays that he hopes some day to publish as a theatrical diary.
—Julian Petley, updated by Soon-Mi Peten