A River of Dreams

Written by  Paolo Micalizzi
Between real and fictitious stories, Po river is projected on the screen.
Po river plays a leading role in films: it is present in eighty feature films and in an hundred documentary films, in TV reports, short and medium films and several reports for national and regional TV channels.

The first film about Po river dates back to 1905: it's "Po river flood", a film which was followed by other documentary films, with the advent of silent cinema. Po river served as a background to fiction works such as "The LAST days OF Pompeii" (1908), directed by Luigi Magni or "Autumn sunset's dream", a film which is taken from one of Gabriele D'Annunzio's poems.

But Po river plays a leading role only in 1942, with "Obsession" (1943), a film directed by Luchino Visconti and "Po river people" (1943-1947), a documentary film directed by Michelangelo Antonioni. These works marked the renewal of Italian movies. In 1957, Antonioni directed "The shout", a film which tells the story of a worker of Polesine who is in crisis.

Another film is centred on Po River humanity: it's "The river lady" (1955), a film directed by Mario Soldati which launched Sofia Loren. "One hectare of sky" (1958), a film directed by Aglauco Casadio, tells about fabulous humanity, telling the story OF SOME fishermen who, trusting a pedlar, buy one "hectare of sky", planning TO COMMIT suicide TO take possession OF it.
The films directed by Pupi Avati which are set in the Po delta are inspired by fables and legends. "Stars IN the ditch" (1978), a film which is inspired by popular tradition, tells the story of five members of a family, fishermen and farmers, who marry a woman who comes to their cottage they fall in love with. But, at the end of the celebrations, the woman proves to be the death.

"Italian Night" (1988), a film directed by Carlo Mazzacurati, tells about political strategies and speculations against the State related to natural gas extraction, in a small village of Polesine. Among the stories which are inspired by current events, there are "Along the river" (1990), a film directed by Vanna Paoli dealing with kidnapping; "Flies ON one's head" (1991), a film directed by Daria Menozzi and Gabriella Morandi, which tells the story of the theft of an Etruscan vase, and "Armed women" (1990), a film directed by Sergio Corbucci, dealing with terrorism.

Among the films where Po river plays a leading role, there is "Scano Boa" (1962), a film directed by Renato Dallara, which tells the story of some fishermen living in a small village along the river banks, whose survival is based on sturgeon fishing. Even "Scano - Boa damnation" (1996), a film directed by Giancarlo Marinelli, is inspired by Cibotto's novel.
Po river also witnessed historical events which have been shown on the screen. In 1946, at Po river mouth, between Porto Tolle and Scardovari, Roberto Rossellini directed the sixth episode of "Paisà" ("Fellow Villager"), which tells a sad episode of Partisan story. "Agnese IS going TO die" (1976), a film directed by Giuliano Montaldo, evokes an episode of the Resistance, telling the story of Agnese, a laundress who becomes Partisans' vivandière and dispatch rider.

Alberto Lattuada (1948) and Sandro Bolchi (1962 and 1970) directed "Po river mill ", a film which is taken from Riccardo Bacchelli's novel, which tells about the struggles of the millers who were burdened with taxes at the beginning of the nineteenth century. "Don Camillo" (1952) and " Don Camillo's return" (1953), the films directed by Julien Duvivier, tell about Po river flood, a dramatic and tragic event.

"Novecento" (1976), a film directed by Bernardo Bertolucci and "The enchanted sail" (1982), a film directed by Gianfranco Mingozzi, tell the story of Peasants' struggles AND fascism IN Emilian lowland along Po river. "The seven brothers Cervi" (1968), a film directed by Gianni Puccini, tells the story OF the family OF Alcide Cervi, who played a LEADING role IN Partisan struggles IN Po river territory near Reggio Emilia.
Franco Piavoli and Ermanno Olmi's poetic gaze rested on Po river: the former with "Blue planet", in 1982 and "Voices IN TIME", in 1996, and the latter with "Along the river", in 1992. The most famous trip to Po Valley is the one which was told by Mario Soldati, a writer and director, in 1957-1958, a film which was transmitted on television, which is called "Trip TO Po Valley".

Some people fell in love with Po river, such as Ligabue, the painter, who was the protagonist of Raffaele Andreassi's documentary films, such as "The mirror, the tiger AND fear", in 1960; "Antonio Ligabue", in 1963; and "The wolves inside", a recent film. "Ligabue", the serial which was directed by Salvatore Nocita in 1978, with the screenplay by Cesare Zavattini, a great Po river poet, tells his story.

Some documentary films, including the ones which are directed by Florestano Vancini, Renzo Ragazzi and Renzo Renzi, describe Po Delta conditions in the Fifties, where poverty and serious health conditions prevailed. "Goro 1990" and "Comacchio 1991", the films directed by Cesare Bornazzini, tell about the transformation of the territory, with the improvement of living standard.
"Po Delta Wings", a film which was directed by Brando and Folco Quilici in 1988, tells about Po Delta, which has become an important tourist destination.