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Sopra e a sinistra, alcune immagini da “Il labirinto del piacere”. A sinistra, una scena di Guerre Stellari a Villa Balbianello (© Lucasfilm) e sotto, Clooney e Pitt in “Ocean’s Twelve” (© Warner Bros. Pictures Inc.) Above and left, some images by ‘The pleasure garden’. Left, a Star Wars scene at Villa Balbianello and below, Clooney and Pitt in ‘Ocean’s Twelve’


An outside set for over 80 years The recent love for the banks of Lake Como shown by the world of the cinema by chosing our area both as film sets and as a place to live in has roots in fact dating back to movie pioneers. Sir Alfred Hitchcock was the first famous name to choose bucolic glimpses of Villa d’Este as the location for his debut full-length film The Pleasure Garden (Il labirinto del piacere). The main characters in the film chose the green Como hills for their romantic honeymoon. It was 1925 and young Alfred Hitchcock, long before he made his movie masterpieces, had already found an Arcady in Lake Como to which he would often return to rediscover the lacustrine tranquillity of Isola Comacina, being particularly fascinated by summer thunderstorms which he loved to photagraph. In 1932 it was Greta Garbo the diva in Edmund Goulding’s Grand Hotel who defined her splendid stay on the shores of the Lario as divine, in that dream locality which in 1944 was to become the honeymoon destination of wonderful Ingrid Bergman in Gaslight (Angoscia) by George Cukor, even though in Hollywood’s heyday Honeymoons were dreams confined to the insides of Studios enacted only in film fiction. The Italian cinema too was to discover Lake Como’s charms in the decade of the Second World War. In 1941 director and writer Mario Soldati shot Piccolo Mondo Antico, based on Fogazzaro’s novel; rumour has it that he showed great initiative by using an aeroplane engine to churn up the waters of the Lake considered too calm for the atmosphere he was seeking to achieve. He was back the following year between the lake and Val Solda for his film version of Malombra, once again inspired by the pen of Fogazzaro. The gilded world of Cinecittà was to return to Manzoni country to recount the complicated existence of Alberto Sordi (Una vita difficile by Dino Risi, 1961), and more recently the intrigues woven by Giancarlo Giannini (Come due coccodrilli by Giacomo Campiotti,


1994). Lake Como has continued to cast its spell however on foreign film-makers as well: Max Ophuls set his La sigora di tutti (1934) there, Réné Clement his L’amanta di una notte (Chateau de verre, 1950), but especially Vanesse Redgrave and Uma Thurman who with Alida Valli and Alessandro Gassman reconstructed – for a few days – the fascist nightmare the villages of Tremezzo and Dongo went through, in the film A Month by the Lake (Un mese al lago) by John Irvin, 1995. More recently it was the picturesque village of Laglio’s most famous resident who brought the big screen back; the man himself George Clooney turned our beloved Lake into the scene of action of his group Ocean’s Twelve (Steven Soderbergh, 2004). It didn’t end with mega fraud: Daniel Craig too as Agent Janes Bond in Casino Royale (by Martin Campbell, 2006), left its movie mark pn the area. The latest Lario guest was Antonio Banderas starring in the thriller The Other Man directed by Richard Eyre and shot in Cernobbio. But the lake is science fiction too; here George Lucas chose glimpses of views from Villa Balbianella to recreate the idyllic planet Naboo where the love affair between Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) and Princess Amidala (Natalie Portman)

in Star Wars 2 - Attack of the Clones by George Lucas, 2002 – also reminiscent of a lesser episode in the screen career of cult director Roger Corman, who set Frankenstein Unbound, 1990 on Lake Como. Lake Como has been an open-air movie set for over 80 years telling tales full of discoveries and curiosities – and there are a lot more still to come!

Magic Lake summer 2008  

Magic Lake #10