La zuppa del demonio
Gianni Bissaca, Walter Leonardi
La zuppa del demonio is an expression used by Dino Buzzati in a 1964 documentary to describe the production of steel in the blast furnaces of Taranto. An irresistible metaphor for the utopia of industrial and technological progress as a solution to humanity’s problems for both the capitalist world and the communist one: a utopia that accompanied much of the 20th century. This film, made with footage from the Archivio Nazionale del Cinema d’Impresa in Ivrea, that sets out to tell the story of progress in Italy, from the early years of the 20th century until the beginning of the seventies, when environmentalism and the first major oil crisis marked the divide between a before and an after. From the great works of the second decade of the century to the rush to electrification to permit the development of large-scale industry, Fascism and the wartime production of FIAT, reconstruction after the war and the emergence of new industries in the fifties, the city in the factory and the Piedmontese models of FIAT and Olivetti, the search for new sources of energy in Italy and abroad in the sixties and the pioneering work in the fields of computer science and nuclear power. An idea of a “better future” that seems dramatically faraway today: it is for this very reason that it has become even more necessary to investigate the imagery produced by this extraordinary universal utopia.
I’ve often worked with found footage. I like to use archive material in a completely different way than how it is used in traditional documentaries, where it usually serves as an illustration of the spoken commentary. I am fascinated by the rhetoric of the film’s original discourse (rhetoric in a strictly technical sense): I like to think I can take that “code” and steer it to express something new. Or rather, personal. Not to make the footage say something different from its purpose. On the contrary, I want my intervention to be clear. I want precisely this “difference” to be the sense of the author’s discourse.