Director's Statement: Roberto Benigni:
This film is the product of my longing to make this film. There was no idea behind it; just a sense of love. The protagonists are urged on by love; the greatest, most subversive and revolutionary force in the world. It is the product of my longing to make a film as pure as the snow, as ferocious as the tiger.
The love is that of a man who would die for, but really die for, his beloved; and that of a woman who doesn't, but really doesn't, want to have anything to do with one so strange. A sensitive eccentric who writes poems for a living, and spends his days searching for just that one word that, if it makes his heart beat, will makes the hearts of all who hear it beat. Only he can't make the heart beat of that woman whom he loves to death; though he follows her about everywhere, talks to her everywhere, would like to spend every day with her and sleep with her every night, puts on his underwear for her, pursues her in his underwear, torments her with his desperate efforts to communicate his love to her, and his longing to live. A longing to live that makes him write poems about everything he sees, for the simple fact that it exists. A longing to live that makes him say that even when he is dead he will always remember how it was to be alive.
He's a man who, in pursuit of the woman he dreams about every night, finds himself caught up in that most absurd and terrible conflict of our times: the war in Iraq that started in March 2003. It is the love of a poet and of a man that defies all reason; a love that leads Attilio to fight his own personal war amidst paradoxes comic and tragic, mine-fields, camels that won't obey orders, looters, bombings and road-blocks… all to win just a few more hours of life for that woman he loves, in the belief that the death of a single person is equivalent to the death of the whole world.
Yet Attilio's is not a sweet, sugary love; rather it's a tiger that springs out in all its fury to seize its prey, that overcomes the unthinkable because it is without fear. For he who is afraid of love is afraid of life, and he who is afraid of life is as good as dead.
Believing this, the poet wants to transmit his belief, convinced that all men have love within them. That is the purpose of poetry; of all art. To uncover, reveal, what lies within.
The whole story is focussed on the protagonists and their emotions; all the rest is merely suggested, since it is impossible to render fully the absurdity, the senselessness of certain events, and to try to do so would be to trivialize them.
We have tried to tell this story in the most straightforward manner possible, hoping to surprise, distract, disturb, but above all to amuse and move. Until we come to a climax that is not so much a bolt from the blue, as a shock that satisfies our expectations.
We have also taken certain liberties with reality because, as the poet says, "one must tell the truth with plausible lies."
I hope this story will indeed surprise, distract, disturb, amuse and move. Perhaps that's too much to ask for. Never mind. Even if does just one of the above, that would still be pretty extraordinary for a film.
The Tiger and the Snow was independently and entirely financed by Melampo Cinematografica, who hold the Italian and worldwide rights.
It was based on an original idea that grew out of conversations between Roberto Benigni and Vincenzo Cerami.
The distribution of the film has been entrusted by the producer Nicoletta Braschi to 01 Distribution for Italy and Pathè for France.
Focus Features have been entrusted with the sale of all other foreign distribution rights, excluded the United States.
WORKING AT PAPIGNO - THE STUDIOS
First used for the shooting of Life is Beautiful (1997), the derelict industrial buildings of Papigno were rebuilt and converted into sound-stages in 2000-2001, for the filming of "Pinocchio" (2002). Since January 2005 Melampo Cinematografica has passed the administration of the studios and the majority shareholding to the leading player in the sector, Cinecittà Studios.
Cinecittà Umbria is a large and well-equipped complex of sound-stages, dressing rooms, canteens, store-rooms and work-shops.
The dimensions of the two principal sound-stages are 80 by 28 by 12 metres in height. The third sound stage comes complete with a large swimming pool equipped with blue screen. All the sound stages are equipped with green screen.
The film shot for four weeks in the studios at Papigno; five weeks on location in Rome (Trevi Fountain, Auditorium Parco della Musica, Aventino district, Rebibbia, via Cristoforo Colombo, piazza Mancini, via del Circo Massimo); and seven weeks in Tunisia, where the Iraqui scenes were shot in and around Tunis, Touzeur, Gafsa and Nefta.
ROBERTO BENIGNI (Actor, Writer and Director)
Born in Castiglion Fiorentino (Arezzo). Having given various open-air performances with the Tuscan "Poeti improvvisatori" he moved to Rome in 1972 with an avant-guard theatre company.
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