Written when the Italian legend was at the height of his powers, the screenplay for Michelangelo Antonioni’s “Technically Sweet,” which he planned to shoot between “Zabriskie Point” and “The Passenger,” looks set to be finally brought to the big screen.
Set in Sardinia and the Amazon jungle, “Technically Sweet” is set up at Brazil’s Gullane, the shingle behind Netflix’s upcoming “Senna” series, and Italy’s Similar, headed by Match Factory founder Michael Weber and Simone Gattoni and Laura Buffoni.
Antonioni finally gave up on shooting “Technically Sweet” in the 1980s, entrusting it to his A.D., Jirges Ristum, who died at an early age before shooting the film. It will be now be directed by Ristum’s son André Ristum (“My Country,” “The Other Side of Paradise”). Enrica Antonioni, the director’s widow, will serve as associate producer.
Antonioni spent two years between 1970’s “Zabriskie Point” and 1975’s “The Passenger” trying to make “Technically Sweet.”
It turns on a journalist who suffers an existential crisis on a sudden holiday. “The complex relationship with a girl as enigmatic as possible, the affinities with an anthropology student, a series of events, detach him more and more from the life he has led up to that moment,” the synopsis runs.
The journalist ends up embarking on an adventure in the Amazon jungle that will define his life.
“It was painful for him to have to abandon production. At that time his vision was too advanced and technically he could not have put his directing ideas on the screen,” said Enrica Antonioni.
That vision, especially the relationship between nature and civilization, plays out strongly through the film and is a issue whose importance has only amplified since, André Ristum observed.
In other ways, Antonioni was far ahead of his time. Way before the common use of digital vidcams, Antonioni imagined shooting with video camera to perfect color correction. In the ‘70s, the technology wasn’t there.
Following in Antonioni’s footsteps, the producers will shoot in Sardinia, Italy and Brazil’s Amazon jungle in 2023.
Enrica Antonioni has handed Ristum Antonioni’s original manuscript with copious character annotations. “My philosophy, when bringing the screenplay in line with current times, is ‘What would Antonioni have thought,’” Ristum told Variety.
Said Fabiano Gullane: “When chatting one day with André about what was really special to him, he started talking about this marvelous project that Antonioni and then his father had once had. For me, it’s a magical story.”
Antonioni is one of Europe’s greats who has best withstood the test of time. Similar’s founders are united by “a love for quality cinema, for auteurs. And among these, Antonioni has always been in our personal Olympus,” Gattoni, Weber and Buffoni said in a statement.
“When André Ristum came to us with this script in hand and some pictures taken in Sardinia at the time when the story was conceived, it was for us a sort of sign of destiny,” they said.
“We are thrilled to start working on this film, a poetic and catastrophic Italian-Brazilian ‘Avventura.’ A film which reveals a different and surprising concept of the ‘feminine’ and is more topical than ever on the struggle between man and nature,” they added.