Cinecittá in Rome is the Hollywood studios of Italy. Translated Cinema City.
With countless Italian movies, Scorsese’s “Gangs of New York”, HBO’s Productions “Rome” series and good ol’ “Ben Hur”, Cinecittá continues to be a popular studio for international film production. Nicknamed Hollywood on the Tiber ! More on the Tiber in my blog “I accidentally met the Healing Gods at the Tiber”.
The Soul of Rome is deep in the story of Cinecittá, having survived through World War II and thrived with the vision of one of its most discussed Italian Directors, Frederico Fellini. The 4 hours I spent there certainly fueled my social psychology and screenwriting obsessions!
Cinecittá was built in 1936 with the backing and prodding of Mussolini. With the appointment of a Director General for Cinematography in his government, it was pretty clear the government saw the pleasure and power of cinema and film. It only took 13 months to build, opening 28 April 1937. One day before my birthday, the day/month that is, not the year!
40 hectare site….1,500 movies… well-known Italian & international directors
Movies made over 20 sound stages, 21 make up rooms, 8 screening rooms including three in 3D. With 19 movies in their first year, 66 movies in their highest production year and 120 comedies between 1937 and 1943, the emergence of World War II (WWII) added
to the studios focus.The renewed focus to psychologically prepare the public for the (emerging) war.
If you saw my home page video, you’ll have heard about the buzz I get with learning the social psychology of places through my travels. At Cinecittá that buzz merged with my love for screenwriting and my psychologist head. Seeing how the power of film was being used to influence social psychology in this part of the globe, at such a time of crisis, amazes me. I’m buzzing a little!
Production was interrupted around 1943-44 with WWII. Cinecittá “closed” its doors, with Nazi Germany clearing 16 train wagons of material. Cinecittá and it’s studios became cubicles that people developed as their refuge home during the war. At the Fellini Building displays, you’ll see footage of these “cubicle” homes and the people living there at the time. Take a moment here… the filming of a real life “movie” within a defunct film studio for several years. The paradox of that is incredible.
Their much spoken of Director Frederico Fellini was a soul searcher it seems.
Film and creative arts were his vehicle for searching and discovering the meaning of life. Debuting in 1950, 23 films and winner of 5 Oscars later, Fellini passed in 1993. Quotes I read about him at the Fellini Building displays, in defending some of his works, portray some of his soul and essence;
“his films were always looking for an ‘ordering principle’…characters who embodied values and thoughts to aspire to… with them, Frederico dared to explore all realms…Directors interest in the depth and mystery of existence”
A plaque of the word Asa Nisi Masa, highlights the word play Fellini loved to do. Brought to life through the children characters of his Academy Award winning movie “8 ½”, Fellini loved to add the suffixes “sa” and “si” after vowels of words. So remove the “sa” and “si” from Asa Nisi Masa and you’re left with ANIMA.
ANIMA in Italian means Soul…….
“His need to know and understand the meaning of life pushed Fellini to psychoanalysis….” The psychologist in me is lighting up!
“Fellini was curious and ready to live any experience that might widen his knowledge, as all artists do”. My intuitive traveler is lighting up even more!!
Knowing the complex mix of art, logistics and team collaboration needed for a movie to materialize on screen, it was great to read of an iconic figure whose passion and purpose infused the growth of Cinecittá. Right on my home doorstep, only 9 km away!!! My psychologist and intuitive traveler hooked up for an espresso to talk “screenwriting” in this one place!
Final scene- the guided tour behind locked gates into the outdoor sets and stage theaters.
Stroll through the previous set for Martin Scorseses Gangs of New York, HBO’s Rome series with antique Rome buildings of grandeur. Ironic when the historical center of Rome is only a half hour train ride away. Although no doubt, the chaos in the city would make for harsh filming conditions! While the “Florence church” set for a Romeo and Juliet movie filmed two years ago is yet to be released, set construction recreating Nazareth was in motion, for an upcoming Hollywood movie.
Cut to the next scene, inside the Presidential Building. Here you can stroll through the “backstage rooms”. The Directors Room, the screenplay room, the sound room, the costume room and the make-believe /special effects room. Can you guess where I spent most of my time??!
Before walking through the final interior set for a full-size Submarine and out into the café and bookstore, take a stop in the “Matrix”-like room. A cool way to show Cinecittás metrics since they were conceived. Check out a short video here of what I mean, the top line is in English.
To wrap up this Act, Stage theatre No. 5 is THE soundstage of significance at Cinecittá. We’re told as the largest
soundstage in Europe, it was Fellini’s favourite “hideout” and where he shot all his indoor scenes. The plaque on the outside of Theatre No. 5 expresses his worldview.
Yes everyone, it’s a wrap!
Would it surprise that I spent 4 hours here, on my own, strolling, reading and watching videos! I’m personally ready for Take 2 of Cinecittá, I hope my partners ready to deal with my buzzing self when we re-visit! Besides, I didn’t read all the metrics in the matrix-style room.
Visiting Cinecittá is an easy metro train ride to the station…. wait for it…. station Cinecittá! Jump on Metro A heading toward Anagnina and you’ll be getting off close to the end of that line. Walking out of the station brings you right to the entrance of Rome’s Cinema City.
Oh, I haven’t mentioned Cinecittá World!!!! The theme park that just opened up in July 2014, did I arrive in Rome at THE perfect time or what?! I love my intuitive traveler. Watch this space for Act II, the blog post about our upcoming day trip to Cinecittá World.