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3 | To encourage participation, Trilogy, X Triennal of Milan</br>Frame from the film Una lezione di urbanistica, 1954

Abstract of the Giancarlo De Carlo conclusive intervention at the conference "The films and the journal of Giancarlo De Carlo on-line in"

Thursday, February 27, 2003
Palazzo della Triennale, Milan 

Andrea Di Giovanni (edited by)

At a distance of far too many years, seeing the films again, I am fairly satisfied with them. I had a vague memory of them and I thought they were probably dated. Today I can see there are some gaps in them, due to naivety and indignation, though I think these are merits, and I consider with interest, 50 years on, in a period when indignation is rather rare. This is the most interesting thing about the three films (presented by Leonardo Ciacci during the event and in Planum section "archive/movies" ndr). They differ by virtue of the contribution furnished by the different authors who discussed and shared in the general formulation of the three films and singly supervised each of them.


The first one, in particular, was edited by Carlo Doglio, who directly supervised the filming in Southern Italy. I considered the film too markedly sociological and rather boring, but seeing it again today reveals the complete loss of every trace of Italy documented in that tape and enables one retrospectively to reflect on the concrete degree of development and social transformation foreshadowed in that film.
Perhaps another film shot in the same places today, describing the contents and extent of the changes that have taken place in the physical space and in partnership life (every trace of it is probably lost), would make it possible to measure the gap between the edges of the completed journey and to reflect critically on the topical phases of the change.


In the second film there is also a perceivable hiatus determined by the changes that have intervened - this time in the town - over fifty years. At that time, after discussing it with Elio Vittorini and with the director Gandin, we found it necessary to shoot the scenes of congestion represented in the film in Piazza del Duomo to seek the congestion effect: also in the core of the city the congestion was hardly verifiable. Imagining congestion as a virulent phenomenon - although not at today's level - we had difficulty finding situations to match our author's imagination. The congestion in the film is created by the passage of the streetcars (though not so frequent) and the excitement of the music, since automobiles were very rare. The other episodes of the film are also "curious". The desperation (still present and perhaps more acute) was emphasized by Elio Vittorini, who loved narrative exaggerations. The lady on the sidewalk was described as a "woman of fortune": in the first vision of the film the lady identified as a prostitute aroused the indignation of the Triennale's president Lombardo, an important exponent of the government, who declared "certain words" were unusable in public. It was necessary to modify the film to avoid its absurd censorship. In this film Vittorini's love for the city is clearly perceptible: its positive vision of the city, symbolically represented in the last scene of the film, in which the man that goes out on the gallery with a trumpet, is the fruit of a close knowledge of the city and what happens in it.


For the third film I was directly involved, since it took a good deal of animosity towards architects and planners to make this third film. Helped by the strong theatrical talent of Billa Peroni Zanuso, the film made a big sensation together with the whole 1954 exhibition on urbanism. An important exhibition which needs to be thought about. I can't remember any other circumstances that aroused the same anger as this film among Italian architects and planners: this film contributed to increase Academe's aversion to me, determined not to admit me to its ranks because of my heterodox and embarrassing positions. Each of my obstinate detractors identified himself oddly with one of the three characters of the film: Astengo, a rather naïve and harmless man, was identified with the scientific one, although some maintained that the character most similar to Astengo was the engineer that works on the castle. Scarpa, never in the authors' minds, was identified with the first character: the artist. Each suspected he corresponded in reality to the character described in the fiction of the film. Then identifications were unfounded however, since as happens in novels, the characters have simply a few references to real people known by the author, without nevertheless fully coinciding with any of them. So there were no references to anyone: rather the importance of the film resided in the representation of three "inconclusive" attitudes of the urbanism pf the period. Three attitudes that tended toward specialization, expunging from their attention the real and most urgent problems of society.


Seeing the three films again I have mixed feelings - I'm fairly satisfied for work done and I'm also sorry I didn't go further and say more than I said then, because I had no time to add more. But the films must be taken like that, considered for what they said then intervening and stimulating a debate in the historical and cultural phase in which they intervened. Probably more cannot be asked of them. So these films may have perhaps a meaning for the younger generations, pointing out to them a path not yet completed, since we are still faced with the problems selected and presented in each of the films.[...]