The city of Carrara and its marble quarries have inspired movie makers since the beginning of cinematography. Here are our top 10 movies set in Carrara, in chronological order:
1. Train sortant d’un tunnel (1897) by Lumière brothers
Carrara debut in cinematography dates back to 1897, only two years after the birth of cinema itself, thanks to its inventors: the Lumière brothers. Train sortant d’un tunnel”, is a motion picture entirely shot at the Fantiscritti marble railway in Carrara, showing a train loaded with marble blocks getting out of a tunnel. It’s only a few minutes, but the impact is extraordinary.
2. The road of the giants (1960) by Guido Malatesta
The Carrara marble railway scenario has fascinated many other directors. In 1960 Guido Malatesta directed “La strada dei giganti” (the road of the giants), a movie set in 1859, telling the story of the reconstruction of the railway in the Apuan Alps. The movie’s climax shows a locomotive falling from a railroad bridge.
3. The torment and the ecstasy (1965) by Carol Reed
Five years later, a great American movie production comes to Carrara, and Carrara quarries become the perfect setting for a blockbuster on the life of Michelangelo. “The torment and the ecstasy” (1965), by Carol Reed, narrates the continuous disagreements between Michelangelo (Charlton Heston) and Pope Julius II (Rex Harrison) during the realization of the Sistine Chapel. Such disagreements lead Michelangelo to profound creative crises that he resolved by taking refuge among Carrara quarries and its marbles. The movie was nominated to 5 Oscar awards including best scenography.
4. 12 December (1972) by Pier Paolo Pasolini
12 December by Pierpaolo Pasolini, is one of the rare cases in which Carrara is not only a background, but becomes the real protagonist of the story. The documentary, made in collaboration with the collective of Lotta Continua, gives voice to the miners of the village of Colonnata, who risk their lives working in the quarries of Carrara. The miners condemn “white deaths and harmfulness at the workplace”, exposing the riskiness of marble excavation.
5. Made in Italy (2004) by Fabio Wuytack
Another short movie in which Carrara represents the fulcrum around which the entire story is built is “Made in Italy” (2004) by Fabio Wuytack. During his studies at the Brussels Film School, Wuytack discovered that the Lumière brothers’ “Train sortant of a tunnel” video had been filmed in the Carrara quarries and thus decided to visit Carrara in search of the forgotten set. To find the very place where the Lumière brothers filmed, he asks assistance to various quarry workers and by many inhabitants of Carrara. Made in Italy is an intriguing documentary, at the end of which Wuytack finds not only the roots of cinema but also his own.
6. 007 Quantum of Solace (2008) by Marc Foster
In 2008 Carrara is once again the setting for a great production: James Bond! Did you know that the initial car chase in Marc Foster’s “007 Quantum of Solace” was filmed on the road to the Fantiscritti quarry, one of the most dangerous roads in the world? As Action designer Dan Bradley declared, this car chase reaches a level of danger and difficulty that he had never faced before, so that production was forced to greatly increase safety measures.
7. Il Capo – The Chief – (2010) by Yuri Ancarani
In 2010, Carrara marble quarries are the set for the documentary “The Chief” by Yuri Ancarani. Marble blocks, machinery and gestures come together to create complete harmony. The key figure of the whole video is the head of the quarry, who guides the extraction of marble blocks with his movements like an orchestra director.
8. Michelangelo Love and Death (2017) by David Bickerstoff
In 2017 the Carrara quarries appear on the big screen mainly as a scenario of Michelangelo’s life. In 2017, David Bickerstoff’s “Michelangelo love and death”, a documentary focusing on the works and the artistic process of Michelangelo, is released in movie theaters. The profile of the great artist is slowly delineated through several interviews. The movie includes an interview to Francesca Nicoli from Laboratori Nicoli Carrara, who describes in detail the techniques of marble processing used by the great sculptor Michelangelo.
9. Michelangelo Infinito (2018) by Emanuele Imbucci
In 2018, “Michelangelo Infinito” by Emanuele Imbucci, with Enrico Lo Verso and Ivano Marescotti, is shot in Carrara. A movie that wants to be a hybrid between a drama and a documentary showing the torments, crises and courage of Michelangelo, not only as an artist but also as a man. The narration takes place on different levels: a scholastic one, in which Giorgio Vasari describes Michelangelo’s life and works, and a more personal one in which Michelangelo himself, a refugee in Carrara quarries, tells us about the birth of his works. It is in these most intimate parts of the movie that the unique relationship between the artist and the matter comes to light.
“Michelangelo did not just request the material for his work, but he wanted to choose it himself, he manipulated it, and he did not leave the hardest job to stonemasons and workshop students.” Enrico Lo Verso
Photographs of the making of the movie are also exhibited at the CARMI – museum of Carrara and Michelangelo in Carrara.
10. Sin. A vision (2019) by Director Andrej Končalovskij
At the same time as “Michelangelo Infinito” another troupe is in Carrara, filming “Sin. A vision “, a movie also focused on the life of Michelangelo. Director Andrej Končalovskij, who won several awards at both the Venice Film Festival and the Cannes Film Festival, points out that there are two protagonists “Michelangelo and the men of Carrara, who have exactly the same importance and the same dignity “. That’s way half of the cast of the movie is composed of inhabitants of Carrara, common people who know and live the quarries, but also stonemasons, marble workers, quarrymen. Tough people, “strong personalities” as Končalovskij defines them. The movie is expected to come out soon. Photographs of the making of the movie are also exhibited at the CARMI – museum of Carrara and Michelangelo in Carrara.
Sacrificio d’Amore (2017-2018) TV series by Daniele Carnacina
Not only the great movies but also tv series are set in Carrara, finding in the history of the quarrymen a fertile ground for the intertwining of love and power. Sacrificio d’amore (love sacrifice) is a Mediaset fiction set in 1913 and shot in part among the Carrara quarries. It’s a tormented love story between Brando, a quarryman of strong ideals who organizes the first strike against exploitation carried out by the quarry owners, and Silvia, wife of a marble entrepreneur, a strong and courageous woman.
Despite the high aesthetic quality of many movies set in Carrara city and its marble quarries, these natural sceneries combined with the extractive works of man constitute a sight that cannot be fully described by any art. The territory and the people of Carrara win overwhelmingly on their representation.