from PIETRANGELO BUTTAFUOCO
“La casa di Roma” is released on 2 September for La nave di Teseo. The book tells the story of the Grimaldis “with the progenitor Giovanni, known as Nannino, at the head of a tribe as varied as it is plural in the spread of generations”
The cheat called family in a tangle of springs ready to snap like a safety lock. Blond curls now gray in a tangle of cogwheels in the clock of the past. An impossible mechanism to unhinge, for those who, by telling it – the little house that was – try to meet their own existence.
In Italian cinema, with The family, Ettore Scola succeeded. By virtue of literature Pierluigi Battista arrives today with a novel entitled The house of Rome published by La nave di Teseo, a proof of art all of stage action ready to become a choral canon through the events of the Grimaldi with the progenitor Giovanni, known as Nannino, at the head of a tribe as varied as it is plural for how Italy is of each.
In the spreading of generations – the Grimaldis becoming strangers to each other – there is, in fact, the sum of everyone’s resentments, gratuitous malice and dentures. The details of that immense everyday life called parental plot where everyone is a ball to himself and each – in unraveling the threads – is a key forgotten in the junk of a drawer.
A piece among the vicissitudes disengaged from their destiny armored with modesty and silence – this is the story of the Grimaldis – in an Italy of hatred, repression and illusions.
It is Marco’s family – who is a screenwriter by trade – where he just can’t imagine what comes out of it. He asks his own nest, that is to Anita, his mother and uncle, Raffaello, to help him in the selection of the material to make a story at home to be published but the parental network – in revealing itself – soon falls apart.
The ability to hatch pages that are already frames is all of Battista who with Marco’s whim finds the trigger to make the truth explode in “a new life”. A sort of open work where the characters – in the digital flow – are ready to become something else: comics, staging, theater, documentary and, in fact, that passage of identification that makes us say “we are the story”. And it is right that abyss which we face with the author, we readers, to find ourselves in turn looked at.
As in Scola’s film, The family – and also in the ancestral memory of Italy, with Romulus and Remus -, the real protagonists of The house of Rome they are two brothers. They are the two sons of Giovanni. One is Raimondo, an upright Communist, honored with glories won by militating in the Resistance. The other is Emanuele, the fascist, who bears the shadow of the Italian Social Republic in whose ranks – those of the vanquished – he fought.
The two Grimaldis they hide could not be more different and perhaps they each share their own unspeakable secret and whose revelation – Marco’s innocent artistic urgency to tell the antipodes of grandfather Emanuele and uncle Raimondo – becomes the last fatal slide towards the affective disintegration of what remains of the Grimaldis.
Raimondo and Emanuele, it’s true, remember Vittorio Gassman and Carlo Dapporto in the film The family but the two Grimaldi brothers of Battista compared to the Germans of Scola have a further level of conflict: in the persistence of the civil war they are separated from ideology and therefore from anthropology. They find themselves living in the same house in Rome with Raimondo seated on the untouchable altar of the left intelligentsia while the other – “a shooter” – is in the pit of discredit reserved for the fascists, deserving more than a career in the cinema of short films. of series B.
Marco who is a screenwriter as only one can do by living in the right neighborhoods, finds himself wrapped in a fumigating plot of harsh contrasts.
The communist’s son stays with the fascists, the fascist’s son, on the contrary, becomes an extra-parliamentary member of the extreme left. And these two sons, boys overwhelmed by ideologies, will find themselves in Piazza Risorgimento, in Rome, when Mikis Mantakas – a young Greek, right-wing militant – is killed.
Both Grimaldis will return to the same house, each in his own hearth. One with the pride of having lost a comrade in battle, the other pleased to have seen an enemy die (and what an enemy, then, when Mantakas, is in turn the son of a father and a mother fighting, in Greece, against the dictatorship of the Colonels …).
We are always the story because then, the profile of this Greek boy, still today peeps out between the walls of the Prati district, in Rome, in the form of the posters and murals of an exhausted mourning. And it is still us, with the Grimaldis, in the backlight of years whose results are claws clenched to the collective memory: the sixties of the last century, the fateful ’68, the inevitable subsequent disenchantment and then – oh yes – the surprises: of uncle Raimondo , revered teacher, it turns out an altar not really edifying for its profile of Communist granite: the recommendation of a powerful minister of the RSI. A “fervent fascist” Raimondo in the meantime preparing the career of father of the anti-fascist homeland. And so it is we, those of history, with Norberto Bobbio and his plea to the Duce.
The fate of the Grimaldi family is revealed in a highly emotional concentration: escapes, betrayals, unsuccessful suicides and funerals where you laugh. Above all, there is the memory of childhood and the tiredness of the present. There is, bruised, love and – at the bottom – an even shallow stream of resentments.
Collaborating on the home memories requested by Marco, in making the tare to the negative judgment that burdens the memory of Emanuele, Raffaello – the son – further reduces his profile by describing him as a director without talent and without discipline. And he tells Uncle Raimondo for what he is: a boring intellectual, unbearable even in the eyes of his beautiful wife with a cheerful and quick leg.
Uncle Raphael, who uses the e-mails sent to his nephew as therapeutic sessions in view of an existential balance that never fits, takes the stage. The protagonist of this Italian novel is him. He is his own solitude that has become the habit of a “non-belonging”, the condition of someone who is always out of phase and staggered with respect to the facts; seeing oneself live – that of Raffaello – is like a re-chewing of foods that have never really been tasted. And he is wrapped, this uncle, in a non-conforming uniform. Heartbreaking.
The stories of the Grimaldis are saga, so much is the material contained in the emails. There remains the desire to know more about the characters described and those who, in the variegated family tree, remain in the background of the story.
The lists that Uncle Raffaello prepares – a quote from Manhattan by Woody Allen, the essential things worth living for – contained in a file for a reconciliation that never happened, are a small treasure trove of useful reports. The saddest soundtracks, the best films, the best Italian novels, the best comic scenes, the best ten Juventus players (and here everyone can replace with their favorite team) encourage the reader to build themselves – with memory and cheat of each one’s family – their own lists. And their lives.
The novel by Pierluigi Battista The house of Rome it is presented on 28 August (6 pm) in Cortina, as part of the Dolomite exhibition «A mountain of books» (Alexander Girardi Hall) which ends tomorrow. On 2 September (6 pm) at the Casa del cinema in Rome Battista will talk about his first narrative work with Cristina Comencini and Walter Veltroni. Since January 2021 Battista has written the daily column “Emergency exit” for “Huffington Post Italia”. He was correspondent and columnist for the Corriere della Sera, of which he was also deputy director from 2004 to 2009. He worked as a correspondent for the Stampa and as co-editor at Panorama. For the La7 television network Pierluigi Battista conducted the program «Altra Storia» for three seasons, from 2003 to 2007.
August 28, 2021 (change August 28, 2021 | 16:24)