“Gianni Versace: l’imperatore dei sogni” by Mimmo Calopresti

Article by Elisa Gnani

Translation by Giorgia Legrottaglie

«What are you doing? Are you sleeping at this time? No. I’m dreaming.».

If we could see with a painter’s eye Mimmo Calopresti’s portrait of one of Italy’s most beloved and most brilliant designers, it would appear to us as a chiaroscuro. This docu-fiction alternates between reality and fiction, past and present, the protagonist’s extensive cultural background and the abandonment of his studies. A duality that converges, in the end, in the construction of a great character, a down-to-earth dreamer: “I live in a dream. My dream is coming true: to be Gianni

In Gianni Versace: l’imperatore dei sogni (“Gianni Versace: the emperor of dreams”), a film presented at the 41st edition of the Turin Film Festival in the Ritratti e Paesaggi (“Portraits and Landscapes”) section, the life of Gianni Versace is recreated by Mimmo Calopresti (who is also the screenwriter together with Monica Zambelli) from his origins in Reggio Calabria in the 1950s and 1960s, when Gianni (Leonardo Maltese), in his youth, spent his days observing the work of his seamstress mother (Vera Dragone). The movie continues with him moving to Milan in the 1970s,
where Versace could unleash his genius, laying the foundations for the rise of the brand. The docu-fiction ends with his tragic assassination in Miami Beach in 1997. It is a reconstruction that, proposing itself as a scrapbook with one transparent page and one full of colorful photographs, could leave us bewildered, and seeming undefined, almost confusing. Responding to this possible disorientation is the order that Calopresti reassembles by organizing the biographical narrative into
four chapters.

Throughout the docu-fiction, the figure of Gianni Versace takes shape as that emperor of dreams evoked by the title, the one who managed to rule dreams by transforming them into his own everyday life. “I love men who have the courage to be heroes,” Versace says, summing up what
seems to be an explicit invitation to never stop chasing what one desires.

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