Have you ever wondered how many films have been shot or set in Venice?
Some very old, others recent, famous or not , romantic films and action films … in total there are about 700 movies filmed here.
You know, Venice is the perfect city as a setting for films of all kinds, so we can admire on the screen not only the very famous and beautiful Piazza San Marco, but also the labyrinth of narrow lanes, hidden corners, churches and palaces a a little more secluded… but always with great charm.
It is impossible to describe and talk about all the hundreds of films that have the lagoon city as protagonist, but we will begin a walk through the places where scenes of different films were shot.
Today we start with a classic from the 1950s: Summertime.
Filmed in 1955 by director David Lean (famous for ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ and ‘The Bridge on the River Kwai’), the main protagonists are two famous actors: the American Katharine Hepburn and the Italian Rossano Brazzi.
The story is very simple and perhaps a little obvious: Jane Hudson (Katharine Hepburn) is the typical enthusiastic American tourist who arrives in Venice on vacation from Akron, Ohio and who has saved up money for the past few years for the big trip, and she walks through the city with his small 8mm travel camera. During her walks she meets a charming antique dealer (played by Rossano Brazzi) with whom she will spend her time during the entire holiday, even when he admits he is married. No typical happy ending, because Jane will return to America but with a wonderful memory of this summer love and city.
But what are the places that appear several times during the film? The first is certainly the Grand Canal, since the protagonist arrives by train and getting off at the Santa Lucia station and she embarks on a vaporetto heading towards Piazza San Marco: the Grand Canal flows before our eyes in all its beauty until the Academia, where the Jane gets off to reach her hotel. But be careful: the buildings, the bridges along the Grand Canal appear in a completely cinematographic order: the Scalzi bridge is followed by Piazzale Roma and immediately after the Salute church, to end up at the Academia. Even the Fiorini hotel where Jane is staying is an invention rebuilt in San Vio: it has balconies and windows facing completely different places and its entrance belongs to another place near San Marco.
While the cafés of this square that you see in some scenes are the ones you can find even today, as well as Campo Santo Stefano and Campo San Barnaba with its church – which we will find in another film … but that’s another story and another post! It is precisely in San Barnaba that Renato has his antiquity shop and where the scene of Jane falling into the water is shooted: she repeated the scene three times and it seems she had a bad eye infection and which caused her suffering of conjunctivitis for the rest of her life (the actress apparently quarreled furiously with the director because she refused to shoot this scene)
Following the protagonists we arrive to Cannaregio district where the Ponte Chiodo appears, immediately recognizable for not having the side protections; we will also see the Zattere, Campo Santa Maria del Giglio and Campo dell’Abbazia. The islands cannot be missing: the two protagonists will have a trip by motorboat to the islands and get off in Burano and at sunset the church of Torcello will appear in the distance.
United Artists executives said that the film would not be approved because of its depiction of adultery and for this reason it was designated as “morally objectionable”; but also for the love between two no longer young characters, in the end 6 meters of film were cut ; but for this part the actress was nominated for an Oscar and even if the movie did not meet the critical acclaim, it hit the box office and it is said to have doubled the number of tourists in Venice.
Surely there are other anecdotes about this film… why don’t you come on a tour with us so we’ll tell you about them? See you soon.