The Star Maker – Uomo delle Stelle (Giuseppe Tornatore – 1995)

This was the first film we saw in our House of Italy series. The series’ producers (myself & two friends) spent a bit of time deciding what should be their first film & chose this one not only for its filmic qualities but also because it was about movie-making. It wasn’t until after our discussion that I began to realize it was really about making honest art, not just STARS.

A friend wrote me later with some more questions, which I’ll include here, but his questions pointed me to exactly those parts of the movie which opened up the whole thing for me.

As I watched the movie, I was enchanted by the story, the phony interviews, the various characters, especially the con guy Joe. And when it was over I was ready for a good discussion, but one of our members, a lady originally from Sicily jumped up and condemned us for showing a film that portrayed Sicily as dirty, broken, primitive. We three organizers were completely dumbfounded, but I was pretty happy that anyone would feel so comfortable in our series that she could produce her own brand of fire & brimstone. This sort of cut short most other discussion, however. And so I was pretty wild about sharing my own opinions then.

So when I received my friend’s email, I pretty much uncorked a pretty bubbly brew of observations and opinions. For now I’ll just post my friend’s note to me so that the questions can be considered by anyone who has seen the movie. And if you haven’t seen it, I really recommend it. It is a wonderful, wise and witty film.

Here’s the email:

An imposter travels to little towns in a truck providing an entertainment to its simple people. He falls in love with a sweet girl who, because of his dishonest behavior, loses her mind. Sounds like La Strada–a great film.

The differences are what made this, for me, a very good movie.

The people of the town, learning their lines from Gone with the Wind, was humorous–there was no humor in La Strada.

Joe Morelli, unlike Zampanone, but like most charlatans, had an element of charm, I found him likable.

The townspeople recounting their stories in front of the camera was original and beautiful.

What I don’t understand, are the two sex scenes. They were needed for the film to work, but why show all that pumping to adults who know how it works? Does this sell tickets?

The other scene that didn’t seem to fit, with the “rich” thieves in a bombed out town, seemed contrived.

What do you think?

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