“If I don’t earn the same as Marlon Brando, I don’t make the movie”

At the top of Palazzo Altieri, in front of the Gesú church, Anna Magnani sings to the eternal city his love for her, leaning out the window. Quanto sei bella Roma, / quanto sei bella, Roma, a prima sera / Er Tevere te serve / Er Tevere te serve da cintura / San Pietro e er Campidojo da lettiera. Phrases from a popular song that she made even more popular when she sang it on Basso la ricchezza!, from 1946. She sings just before dawn, on August 31, 1973. She only has a few days to live because pancreatic cancer has sentenced her. She finds it impossible to sleep.

The body hurts but also the soul. She weathers the first with morphine but the second… She lights a Marlboro and sings, sings, to scare away the anxieties that oppress her. To the city from which she has never wanted to move and which saw her birth in 1908. But, suddenly, Magnani He realizes that a group of people is walking downstairs. paparazzi maneuvering to portray her. Her agony is sold expensive in the newspapers transalpine. She slams it shut, angrily, cursing and thus waking up her assistant, who watches her in her final limbo.

Actually, we are not in the Palazzo Altieri, but in a penthouse on Calle Desengaño, four steps from the Gran Vía. What you can see from the window are the roofs of Madrid. But the suggestion generated by the actress Arantxa de Juan (accompanied by Nerea Portela, who acts as a maid) in this domestic performance makes the thirty spectators who have gathered at her house see the ones in Rome, something that we would strongly support if we then subjected to an interrogation under oath.

De Juan, based on physical resemblance and emotional mimesis, is Magnani in one of those shows that are perceived special from minute one. Micro-theater that has become an urban legend, the kind that divides the staff between the privileged who have savored it and those who have not.

[Pasolini, una muerte violenta con descampado al fondo]

For the latter, there is still time. But little. Until January 29. Since 2017, De Juan represents Magnani open (title with double reading that hits the nail on the head) with an overdose of intimacy that makes you sad. We are watching a myth die in his own living room, which is where the action takes place after the tune at dawn in the bedroom. There Magnani lodges, in a black nightgown, a premonitory color.

Haggard and still enraged by the blowflies of the tabloidsHe hears the doorbell ring and springs open, leaving the maid behind. The newspaper boy hands him a copy of La Repubblica warm, because even if he hates the press, he likes to be aware of what is happening, what can we do? The problem is that some news blows up in your face. “John Ford has died. A stomach cancer ends the life of the director at the age of 79”reads the actress, Pasolini’s muse (mamma rome) and Roberto Rossellini (Rome, open city), which recalls how, on a cruise to the United States, the architect of desert centaurs he flattered her.

At that point, Nannarella – as she was popularly called – activates her memory and, following the dramaturgy made by Arantxa de Juan herself, evokes the great moments of her battered existence, the good and the bad. For example, the Oscar that she won for her role in The tattooed rosethat Tennessee Williams, with whom a cauterizing friendship for both took shape: in the midst of cyclopean drunkenness in the trattorias Roman women licked each other’s wounds.

He was perhaps the most faithful man she had by her side. Nothing to do with robert rossellini, which left her in the lurch when -inciting telegram by means of- Ingrid Bergman entered the scene. Hilarious is the scene in which she, like a wounded wolf, lashes out at the Viking standing on top of a volcano on a neighboring island. stromboliwhere Rossellini and Bergman abandoned themselves to a amour fou.

“I didn’t get one of my wrinkles out, it took me a lifetime to get them.” Magnani to a makeup artist

De Juan’s analeptic dramaturgy also reviews more stories and recreates some emblematic phrases that the actress uttered. Like the one that she blurted out to a makeup artist: “I didn’t remove a single one of my wrinkles, it took me a lifetime to get them.” Just like Nicole Kidman, right? And how many And how many “Working in an industry like the cinema, she boasted a physique of a woman from the town that nothing came close to the glamor of this industry. And that was precisely what made it unique”, says De Juan, who ventured into this project during her acting studies in New York with Susan Batson, a teacher of Juliette Binoche, Lady Gaga and, lo and behold, Nicole Kidman.

That rebelliousness is a constant throughout the ‘footage’ (just over an hour). Resilient and indomitable, she declined to waste her career with frivolous and childish roles. She wanted audiences, particularly her Roman neighbors, to keep her stamped in their subconscious as someone who embodied her dignity on screen.

[Marlon Brando en ‘Un tranvía llamado deseo’: el nacimiento de un mito erótico]

A pioneer of equality, likewise, she did not bow to the double wage standards between actors and actresses: “If I didn’t earn the same as my partner, the gallant, I wouldn’t make the film. And I’m talking about people like Marlon Brando.” All this is told to her caretaker, who serves as an excuse to narrate it to the minimum audience. Meanwhile, she is waiting for her son Luca, who must return from his vacation in Greece to take care of her mother, as she, without her father by her side, had to raise him, a child marked by the consequences of polio.

Luca won’t let her die alone a few days later. Neither did another man who decided to return to his side at that time. premature and bitter ending but exemplary dignified (“You only give me morphine when I ask you to,” he tells the nurse). Although it is written in the history of cinema, we will not say who. Go see it, if you still find tickets. Whether they know it or not, they will be compensated by the shower of courage and honesty that will fall on them.

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