Enrico Medioli – A life for cinema
Text Cesare Cunaccia
He passed away last April, taking his leave with the same true gentleman’s reserve that set him apart all of his life. Enrico Medioli, a man of genuine charm and timeless beauty, born in Parma on 17 March 1925 and spending his final thirty years mainly in Orvieto, was one of the leading Italian screenwriters, particularly for cinema, but also for television. Parma was a melting pot of central, yet all rather aloof and basically splenetic figures from the Italian twentieth century. Different and similar figures, like the poet Attilio Bertolucci, father of film directors Bernardo and Giuseppe and a fundamental mentor to Medioli, or even the musicologist and refined collector Luigi Magnani, the product of the local agricultural bourgeoisie, author of sublime writings and that collection of artistic treasures kept by the foundation he created, Magnani Rocca, in the hills of Mamiano di Traversetolo.
A ‘Parmattitude’, a cultural and temperamental perspective with vaguely Proustian hints, often surfaces in Medioli’s work, throughout a formidable career in which he scripted seven films by Luchino Visconti, producing screenplays also for Valerio Zurlini, Sergio Leone – the heartrending Once Upon a Time in America, Liliana Cavani, Mauro Bolognini, Alberto Lattuada and Vittorio Caprioli. He won the Nastro d’Argento in 1961 for the screenplay of Visconti’s Rocco and his Brothers and in 1969 was nominated for an Oscar for the dark and decadent plot of The Damned, again by Luchino Visconti. For Italian television, he produced what remain epoch-making screenplays, like The Charterhouse of Parma, directed by Mauro Bolognini in 1982, The Bethrothed, a television miniseries by Salvatore Nocita in 1989 and Wuthering Heights, directed by Fabrizio Costa, in 2004.
Enrico Medioli is the star of the docufilm Ritratto di sceneggiatore in un interno, directed and produced by Rocco Talucci, premiered in Italy in July 2013 at the Festival of Spoleto. A story in which, overcoming his proverbial reserve, Medioli speaks about his life and the genesis of his screenplays, through sharp, insightful recollections, often told with a touch of wit. A vivid portrait emerges of decades and figures that left an indelible mark on twentieth century Italian culture, a tale of infinite connections, suggestions and meanings. A critical profile of his work, a complete biography and filmography are brought together in one single book on the same subject, Il costruttore di immagini. Enrico Medioli sceneggiatore, by Francesca Medioli and Roberto Mancini published in 2015, packed with accounts and a range of important contributions, also from Gian Luigi Rondi, Irene Bignardi, Franca Valeri, Roberta Mazzoni, Laurence Schifano, Giorgio Treves and Rocco Talucci.
We asked the latter film and stage director, who was extremely close to Enrico Medioli in his final years, to sketch a portrait, accompanied by a short yet tender contribution from Adriana Asti, one of cinema and television’s most iconic actresses. In addition to his own personal recollections, Talucci, author of other film documentaries in fact about Adriana Asti and Peppino Patroni Griffi, underlines the fundamental role played by music and literature in the private and professional life of Enrico Medioli.
Roberto Mancini, Francesca Medioli
Aska Edizioni, 2015, p. 144, €25.00
From The Fashionable Lampoon Issue 12 – Dionysus