We open the exquisite new Italian-French production LA SAPIENZA this Friday at the Royal. Eugène Green’s film begins with a brilliant architect plagued by doubt and loss of inspiration as he embarks on a quest of artistic and spiritual renewal guided by his study of Borromini. His wife, similarly troubled by the crassness of contemporary society, as well as the couple’s listless marriage, decides to accompany him. A chance encounter with adolescent siblings upends the couple’s plans and changes their lives.
This morning the L.A. Times published arts reporter David Ng’s piece about the film, featuring an interview with the filmmaker. Mr. Ng will attend and introduce the 7:10 PM screenings on Friday and Saturday, June 26 and 27. He adds, “Eugene kindly sent me a few humorous words to say before the screenings.”
Here’s the beginning of the Times article:
“Widely regarded as one of the most important architectural achievements of the Baroque era, the Church of Sant’Ivo alla Sapienza in Rome stands out for its bold juxtaposition of geometric shapes, its spiral dome and its resplendent, light-filled interior.
“Though not a large church by European standards, it nonetheless remains the supreme accomplishment of its creator: 17th century Italian architect Francesco Borromini, whose prodigious talents unfortunately brought him more misery than joy. He committed suicide in 1667 at the age of 67.
“Sant’Ivo alla Sapienza still operates as a church and as the home of Rome’s municipal archives. It also plays a key role in “La Sapienza,” opening Friday, a fictional movie that explores how Borromini’s architecture changes the life of a contemporary architect who himself is suffering from an existential crisis.
“The movie’s title refers to Borromini’s church but also evokes the somewhat archaic Italian word used during the Renaissance.
“”When people try to define it, they either say it is ‘knowledge’ or ‘wisdom.’ But for me it’s knowledge that leads to wisdom,” writer-director Eugène Green said.
“The Paris-based filmmaker is a Baroque specialist who once led the French stage company Théâtre de la Sapience. He recalled that as a young student pursuing art history, he dreamed of making a biopic of Borromini, using the real architecture as a backdrop.
“”He’s an artist who didn’t make concessions,” the director said by phone from Paris, in an interview conducted in French. “It’s a mystical architecture. In the context of Roman Baroque architecture, it’s a pared-down style — even the decorative aspects have a purpose in the larger form. I conceived my own artistic work in that manner.”
“Once he began making movies in the late ’90s, Green realized he had no interest in costume dramas.
“”As soon as you put a period costume on an actor, they try to act differently, like they’re in the theater,” he said.”