The film that was never made

Written by  Andrea Camilleri

Roseda Tumiati , Giuseppe Berto and a film story set in the DeltaA scene from the life in Comacchio in the 1950s.

The  story of a film set in the extraordinary Comacchio countryside,  which should have been shot  in 1953 but was never actually made was the story of a friendship more than anything else.  As the second world war slowly quenched its fires, a group of Italian military prisoners found themselves together in an  American concentration camp.They had declared themselves to be

"non collaborators", meaning that they would not collaborate with the U.S. army in order to be set free. One of the huts at that camp was home to Gaetano Tumiati, Dante Troisi, Giuseppe Berto and Alberto Burri among others. They formed a strong friendship and deep sense of support. So it was very normal for the friendship to be extended toRoseda Tumiati on the Po Delta. the members of each of their families upon their return to Italy as they continued to meet and write to each other. In the meantime however, their individual lives took different turns. Tumiati became a journalist and writer and won the Premio Campiello [Campiello prize]. Troisi became a judge, and a severe, complex writer. Burri became an artist. Berto published his first novel in 1947. His masterpiece was Il Male oscuro, published in 1964. Just as many other Italian writers, Berto worked with the Italian cinema as a scriptwriter and scenario writer. Dino De Laurentiis asked Berto to write a story for a film to be set in the Po Valley in 1951. Fresh from the success of Riso amaro [Bitter rice], Silvana Mangano was to be the star. But Berto didn't know anything about the Po Delta area since he was from the Veneto region and now lived in Rome. He therefore decided to ask Roseda, the sister of his friend from Ferrara, Gaetano Tumiati. He knew that Roseda was a cinema Gaetano Tumiati, Roseda’s brother, with Giuseppe Berto, in Ferrara.enthusiast. In fact she had wanted to join the Experimental Cinematographic Centre in Rome, but couldn't, and so worked as a film critic for a local newspaper. Berto didn't want advice or suggestions, he simply asked her to write the story that had to deal vaguely with social issues and have a dramatic plot. Any earnings would be divided in half. The producer wanted the basic film plot to be on his table in a week. The letter was undated, but was from February 1951. Roseda immediately replied by letter. Even though she said she didn't have any ideas for a story, she clearly outlined a story-line demonstrating that she knew the area very well. In fact, having noted that there were poachers in Comacchio, called fiocinini, she also suggested some of those "strong scenes" that the producer wanted. Roseda was also knowledgeable about current affairs, and explained to Berto that the Reno river had flooded the countryside and left a "dramatic and devastating" scene. Finally she asked him to come and visit her some week-end. Berto accepted the invitation. He scouted the area to emerge himself in its special atmosphere. He contacted Roseda again on 22 February. He wrote that he had made contact with Lux Film, and that he had talked about a story idea. The story involved a provincial circus, burdened by debt, a tent, four horses, the owner, the clown, theA period photograph of Comacchio, the place where our film story unfolds. horsewoman (naturally Mangano)... Berto asked Roseda to write the first draft, three or four pages, since he was very busy writing a script for a film adapted from Romana by Moravia. She would have to finish writing this presentation by 4 March. Roseda answered him on 2 March, attaching a story called Dinca, the gypsy-woman. The story develops and fleshes out Berto's suggestions with intelligence and a sense of showmanship. A female figure, at the centre of a sensational event, and the focus of attention of three rival male characters, all with different personalities, social classes and jobs. Berto announced that Roseda's idea had been accepted and paid in a following letter, and that he would go to Ferrara as soon as possible because the four pages would have to become fifty. Since he was very busy with various screenplays, he advised Roseda to start writing. In another letter, Berto confirmed that the story had been approved, and said that he would arrive in Ferrara on 6 or 7 May. They would not have much time since he had to go to London on 28 May. Once again he asked Roseda to start without him and draw up the definitive story. The following letter wasn't dated either, but the postmark shows 28 May 1951 and the letter was sent from Rome. But wasn't he supposed to be in London then? In any case Berto wrote to Roseda that what he was writing in the middle of various other commitments had taken anThe poster advertisinf “La donna del Fiume”. 'almost comical' turn. A short while later he wrote again, saying that the Lux producer, Gatti, was 'amazed' after having read it, and couldn't make a decision. Basically, the film was not going to be made. Gatti had liked the story, but just as Berto himself had predicted, its tragi-comic tone had made him hesitant. Carlo Ponti, a partner of De Laurentiis, produced the film La Donna del fiume [The river girl] in 1955. It was set in the Comacchio lagoon, and the lead was played by Sofia Loren. The story is a cheap romance. The screen writers were Giorgio Bassani and Pier Paolo Pasolini, and the director, Soldati, had tried to improve it. However, he was clever enough to exploit the beauty of the countryside. Certain narrative elements in this file (escape, death, arrests, and condemnation) are the same as Roseda's story, even though they could not be classified as interdependent. However, it seems quite possible that someone could have taken a peek at Roseda's pages as they lay open on the desk of De Laurentiis.?