This documentary was made in the same spirit and with the same imperative that Luigi Ghirri used in his own photography: see things as part of a greater whole and look at those things with a sense of emotional commitment.
The feelings that Ghirri’s work instils in the onlooker are described by his friends and admirers, some of whom are on camera and some off. Much of this film was shot on location, with those friends and admirers providing the commentary against the backdrop of places which Ghirri loved and which appear in his photography – Fontanellato near Parma, Gualtieri and Luzzara near Reggio Emilia and, above all, the river Po.
This documentary was devised and directed by writer Gianni Celati who for many years was involved with Ghirri in landscape study and in various forms of field work. Together they produced three books of photography of major importance in Italian publishing: Viaggio in Italia 1985, a study on the new landscape of Italy; Dal fiume al mare 1986, a journey in photography along the Via Emilia, the road running – as the title says – from the river Po to the Adriatic Sea; and Il profilo delle nuvole 1990, a photographic essay on the Po valley. They also produced a film together for the RAI (Italian State Broadcasting) directed by Celati and entitled Strada provinciale delle anime 1991, the story of thirty day-trippers on a coach excursion through the Po delta.
The World of Luigi Ghirri is the story of Ghirri’s approach to photography, a celebration of his life and work. The film revolves around the miniature theatre at the Castle of Fontanellato, as though a play were in progress, and Ghirri’s home in the countryside near Roncocesi. In Ghirri’s eyes, the castle of Fontanellato was nothing short of a shrine – and with good reason. For here, in the early 19th century, a “dark room” was constructed, allowing an observer to look through an aperture at people and events in the square outside. These images are inverted, in exactly the same manner as happens with the lens of a camera, and Ghirri considered this proof that the concept of photography as a way of viewing the world is a great deal older than its role as a product of the age of technology would suggest. And it is from the “dark room” at the Castle of Fontanellato that the images take flight on a journey through the countryside around Reggio Emilia, with the feeling of an exploration begun but not yet ended. The low-lying plains and the style of the buildings in this part of Italy are the key to understanding the spirit of places such as these. And that spirit is made manifest when a group of friends meet one evening in spring on the banks of the Po to enjoy an open-air dinner together and slides showing the photography of Luigi Ghirri…
screenplay: GIANNI CELATI
director: GIANNI CELATI
camera: LAMBERTO BORSETTI, PAOLO MURAN, GUGLIELMO ROSSI
sound: STEVE MARKS and STEFANO BARNABA
film editor: LAMBERTO BORSETTI
digital camera control: GIUSEPPE BONAZZI, FILIPPO DAVID, FRANCESCO LOGULLO, GIANLUCA VALDISSERRA
music: GUY KLUCEVSK (Angelica 1994, Cai-Cai Music Publishing)
production secretary: MICHELA ROSSI
assistant producer: TIZIANA CORNETI
producer: LUCA BUELLI
production company: PIERROT E LA ROSA
digital cameras: VIDEOPRESS
length: 52 minutes
format: Digital/betacam 16:9