Filmmaker Eckhart Schmidt Details His Love for Sicily
Producer and filmmaker Eckhart Schmidt has shot documentaries and five feature films in Sicily. Through his docs, he discovered that Bagheria-born Giuseppe Tornatore was highly influenced by the monsters of the Villa Palagonia, and that Francesco Rosi shot his movie “Salvatore Giuliano” on all original locations. Schmidt’s features shot in Sicily include 2021’s “Palermo. Gente,” of which he writes “I was filming the Sicilian way of life as it is represented in a small three-face statue: showing a girl, the devil and the death.”
His impressions of Sicily offer compelling pictures of the island’s locations:
You step out from your Agrigento hotel room to the terrace and there you are in front of the Greek temples. You walk down a little staircase to Palermo’s Catacombe dei Cappuccini, where the air-dried corpses of some hundred men and women hang on walls or lie in shelves and show faces that reflect all vices of the world. You walk over the Roman villa mosaic to discover an ancient world and the birth of the bikini. You enter the statue-filled hall of Palermo’s Grand Hotel et des Palmes Hotel, where Wagner finished his “Parsifal” and Lucky Luciano made his international mafia deals. You enter an old palazzo at Palermo’s Kalsa and experience “The Leopard’s” ball scene as if you are part of it.
You go to the great Palermo Cathedral, which once was a mosque, reflecting at the tomb of Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II and how his education on the streets of the city made him the inventor of modern Europe. You walk through the Bagheria’s Villa Palagonia full of baroque monsters, to understand that Sicily is funny, is monstrous and is what you have never seen before.
You can make everlasting friends in five minutes, if you understand that death is close to life and fun is close to tragedy.
Filming here means not being a walking shadow but getting out of the cave and looking at reality.
Giuseppe Tornatore, Luchino Visconti, Francesco Rosi, Marco Amenta and all the others like Francis Ford Coppola found out if you want to film in Sicily you have to film with Sicily.
The daylight is transmitted directly from paradise. The night is magic blue, telling you that death is near, when you are dreaming of a paradise called Sicily.
And if you should run out of money, no problem. Everything you need to survive grows somewhere for free and if you can’t live without a coffee, you’ll find a coffee shop where they offer you a caffè sospeso, a free coffee, that somebody paid for that you will never get to know.
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