Two good movies to watch before your trip to Venice
Thanks to its extraordinary beauty and the naturally atmospheric “stage settings” it offers, Venice is a city that has always been connected to the cinema.
Steven Spielberg, for example, chose Venice as the location for part of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989) In the film it plays the role of an old library, but it’s really the Church of St. Barnabas where Indiana Jones finds the crucial clues to the location of the tomb of the protectors of the Holy Grail.
In Everyone Says I Love You (1996), Joe, played by Woody Allen, meets the beautiful art historian Von (Julia Roberts) on the Bridge of St. Christopher and pretends to be lost in order to ask her directions to the Gritti Palace.
Some of the James Bond films have taken place in Venice too: the finale of From Russia With Love (1963) takes place under the Bridge of Sighs, Moonraker (1979) has a famous scene involving a motorized gondola in the Piazza San Marco; and Casino Royale (2006) even sees a palace demolished.
The list could go on and on, but most of all in this post I wanted to recommend two films, recent and good ones, to watch — most of all for the setting — before you set off for a trip to Venice.
First is a movie made in the USA, The Tourist. It’s a romantic thriller from 2010, directed by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, with Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp.
On board a Frecciarossa train, Frank, a slightly clumsy American teacher, meets Elise, a mysterious and fascinating woman who invites him back to her hotel… and unfortunately involves him in an international intrigue.
During the film we see poor Frank pursued by Russian gangsters across the roofs of Venice and through the Rialto marketplace. Other chases take him through the canals of Madonna dell’Orto, della Sensa and San Giustina. Other scenes were filmed near the Fondaco dei Turchi, Scuola Grande della Misericordia and the island of Giudecca. The scene at the police station was filmed near the Library of San Marco. We see also the Palazzo Pisani Moretta, the grand hall of the Hotel Danieli, and the terraces of the Guggenheim and the Arsenale, here transformed into the headquarters of Interpol.
It’s not any sort of masterpiece, but I like this movie. It’s a light comedy, full of typical spy-movie elements: mistaken identity, chases, secret agents, international mafia bosses… all with the aim of entertaining the audience: the actors are good looking, the clothes are stylish, and the atmosphere is of an utterly perfect Venice.
Maybe there are a few too many cliches: the policeman who falls into the canal, a kiss on the balcony, a masked ball, Russian gangsters. But it’s all normal for this kind of movie…sometimes they’re simple comic relief, other times it serves to move the plot forward, and other times the goal is to maintain the “romantic” idea of an Italy as tourists see it.
The second is an Italian movie, Dieci inverni (Ten Winters). A romantic comedy from 2009 directed by Valerio Mieli, with Michele Riondino and Isabella Ragonese.
In the winter of 1999, on board a vaporetto crossing the Venetian lagoon, Camilla, a student recently arrived in Venice to study Russian literature, notices a boy in the crowd. Their eyes meet: she is shy and pretends to be reading a book; he, Silvestro, isn’t quite as timid and when the vaporetto docks, he gets off and follows her. So begins their long story that lasts for ten years. The two meet, lose each other and look for each other winter after winter — sometimes in Venice, sometimes in Moscow — before finding the courage to begin their love story.
The Arsenale is an important location in the story. The place where the pair’s paths keep crossing but never meeting is the field of San Giacomo da l’Orio. The piazza where Camilla finally tells her then-lover that he isn’t the right man for her is the famous San Marco. And the hospital where they take Silvestro’s then-girlfriend after a boating accident is the San Giovanni e Paolo.
This film shows a very different Venice than the one we see in The Tourist.
A winter Venice, cold and snowy, which is almost never seen in the movies and which most people wouldn’t even recognize, very realistic and at the same time like a fairy tale.
Enjoy the movies!
P.S. Share this post with anyone you can think of who might like to read it!
P.P.S. Quick favor: if you click the heart button below, it means more people will see this article. Would mean the world to me. Thanks!