Article by Giulia Seccia

Translated by Federica Maria Briglia

Mariangela Ciccarello’s movie, shown in the “Italiana.doc” section, presents itself as a documentary that follows the daily life of two actresses, Angela and Paola. It is focused on their rehearsals of dialogues about the mythical characters of Ulysses, Circe and Calypso. However, the dimension of reality constantly and gradually overflows into a dreamlike dimension, enveloping the protagonists’ bodies and fading their contours along with their words, especially when they act. In those moments, the Italian language of their dialogues mixes with the Neapolitan dialect of their considerations on the mythical characters.

Bound to the past, the dreamlike dimension is a subconscious dimension that increasingly infiltrates into the present, fragmenting it thanks to the super8 footage that reflect a past made of shootings of Greek and Roman statues and vessels that bear the names of Homeric characters. The past disturbs, causes confusion, and connects Angela and Paola’s everyday world, located in the vibrant city of Naples, with Ulysses and Calypso’s mythological world. The Parthenopean city, place of the present, sets itself against Calypso’s island, place of the past. Only the cavern element brings them together, as it is equally connected to the divine sacredness (to the holiness of the religious statuettes and to the praying, that nevertheless turns into superstition) and to the human profanity (which is the place where Ulysses and Calypso love each other).

The images of the movie are also fragmented: the shots, unnaturally near to the actresses’ bodies, deny us a clear overall view. They focus on specific parts of their bodies and expand certain noises, like Angela’s rasping breathing, that we hear many times and that seems to come from Ulysses while he’s trying to come back to life through her body. During the course of the movie, in fact, Angela and Paola seem to merge progressively with the mythical characters they portray, in an entanglement between acting, reality and myth, in which the topics of first meeting and saying goodbye become pivotal. The movie is a restless crescendo, that rises like the waves of the sea, inflated by a screechy wind, that crash on Calypso’s island, which is the place that establishes Angela’s metamorphosis into the shipwrecked Ulysses, and Paola’s ones into the seductive Calypso. The movie is a crescendo that makes us wonder about what haunts Ulysses and consequently Angela, and somehow also us the audience : to leave or to stay?

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