Sebastiano Mauri about Favola
Text Matteo Mammoli
Favola is the first movie – amidst drama and comedy – by Sebastiano Mauri, dramatization of the pièce written in 2011. It is the story of a white, middle-class and transsexual woman from the America of the Fifties – Mrs Fairytale – becoming conscious – and emancipating.
From theatre to the big screen. “To adhere to the mood of the piece, we had to betray it. The change in medium needs a change in standpoint”, explains the director. “At the theatre, a complete overview of the character is offered, who has to go far with body and voice. In cinema, it is enough to raise an eyebrow to communicate.” The original cast – Filippo Timi, Lucia Mascino, Luca Santagostino – has been enriched by two characters – Piera degli Esposti, playing the role of the austere, then redeemed, mother, and Sergio Arbelli, authoritative husband of Mrs Fairytale, always with her hair set and a puffy dress.
The law in use in the Fifties in American houses is: “The more a woman toils at home, the more beautiful she is in the eyes of her husband.” Mrs Fairytale declaims this, quickly moving from one hall to the other of her American bourgeois residence– waiting for her husband Sten to come back. She closes the gap of her afternoons by pouring tea laced with whisky in crystal glasses and she dabbles in sensual lessons of Mambo. Lady, a poodle dog, is stuffed, but it acts and it is treated as if it was alive. One day, Mrs Fairytale discovers the truth about herself: she is transsexual and she is attracted – reciprocated – by a girlfriend with whom she spends great part of her days, Mrs Emerald, companion in domestic misfortunes.
The world in which the characters move is full of colour. Great care for details is not an end in itself, but functional to the story. “This reality, without unveiling too much, is imaginary, created by Mrs Fairytale herself.” It is the vision of America she has never experienced, the enchanted America of the Hollywood golden age. “Such a level of aestheticism was necessary, typical of Douglass Sirk dramas, in which colour was left to chance, but to serve different moods: the green of the leaves was emerald if the woman was in love, grey if she was depressed.”
In order to represent Mrs Fairytale’s fantasies, Mauri has opted for two trustworthy persons: “I followed an advice provided by Hitchcock in a book of dialogues which I read when I was seventeen, Hitchcock/Truffaut – reading this book and watching his films is worth a school.” Sebastiano Mauri, Italian-Argentinian, has a degree in cinema achieved at the New York University. “It is inconceivable that a film director decides everything, as the romantic European drift establishes: choose skilled people and get stunned.” Scenes by Dimitri Capuani – Il canaro, Tale of tales. Hairstyling and makeup by Aldo Signoretti – in 2007 he designed on the Maya faces in Apocalypto. Costumes by Fabio Zambernardi, design director at Miu Miu and Prada since 2002, he also created the original costumes of the show: “Some of them come from the theatre, arranged to a figure of Mrs Fairytale who has lost weight since the times of the tour.”
There are moments of emotiveness. The film presents intimate aspects, through which we connect with the sorrow of the character. Like in the discovery of the sexual identity. The topic is deeply felt by Mauri, with a strong civic engagement: in 2015, in the pamphlet Il giorno più felice della mia vita (The happiest day of my life), he dealt with the right of marriage of gay couples. Two years ago, he married Filippo Timi in New York. “The word transsexual did not even exist in the Fifties. These topics are being discussed only in the last few years and they are finally part of the mainstream. Today rights that in the past were not even considered are now claimed.”
Mrs Fairytale claims her rights of living her sexuality and loving a woman. In complicity with Mrs Emerald – and in the end also with the help of the mother – she carries out an action plan to escape from domestic prison and her violent husband’s impositions.