The invisibility of adolescence

Film director Gabriele Salvatores

During the BFI London Film Festival, Gabriele Salvatores presented his new movie ‘The Invisible Boy’, the story of Michele Silenzi, a 14-year-old boy on a journey to discover his identity, and to be accepted by his friends. Played by Ludovico Girardello, the boy who lives a normal adolescent life, fighting with bullies, discovers he possess the power of invisibility. It is then he will begin his new adventure, which will reveal an obscure past full of other people who possess superpowers like himself. As with every superhero, the boy will have to fight to save his beloved, from the evil enemies that he encounters along the way.

This is the first chapter of an Italian trilogy, which include comics and books as well. We talked more about the movie with the director Gabriele Salvatores, Oscar winning directory for ‘Mediterraneo‘ in 1991.

The movie ‘The Invisible Boy’ belongs to a genre that we can define as ‘cine-comic’, which is quite uncommon in the Italian cinematographic overview. Why such decision?

‘I truly believe that when you keep doing what you are already good at, you are destined to fade away… If you want to stay young and alive, you have to keep trying different things, and find new ones. In particular, with Nicola Giuliano, producer of The Indigo Productions, we wanted to create a movie for young and adults alike; something that everyone can relate to. The superheroes are readable at different levels, so we thought it could have been the perfect theme for this experiment’.

The movie refers a lot to other superhero stories; Spiderman, X-men, Batman… Who is your favourite superhero?

‘To be honest, I have always read comics and sci-fi novels, but I did not know a lot about superheroes specifically. So, preparing for this movie, I studied them a lot, and after watching various films, I can say that my favourite is definitely Spiderman. I think that everyone can reflect themselves in Peter Parker, it’s the closest to reality. To develop our abilities, we have to continue going through obstacles and delusion… exactly like Spiderman. Another reference point for the movie is ‘Kickass’, where Nicholas Cage interprets a very original and wild superhero. Also, it’s really funny’.

The invisibility is a perfect metaphor of adolescent life. Did you choose this power, that we can define ‘passive’, to underline the fears and the individuality that is not already defined in youngsters?

‘Absolutely yes, you are totally right. The most important thing is that with this power you can’t destroy buildings, or set on fire your enemies, you can only disappear. I guess that everyone has had the desire to be invisible at least once, maybe to sneak in and find out things, or to hide and walk away. On the other hand, I think that everyone has also felt invisible at some point in their childhood, at least I did, when you think nobody sees you and you just want people to notice you’.

Talking about superpowers, which one would you like to have?

‘I agree with what Ludovico (the interpreter of The Invisible Boy) said in some interviews: teleportation. The power to transport yourself quickly from one place to another would help me save a lot of time and money! Also, it’s a power that would allowed me to do more things; with others power I don’t see the possibility of different uses. What’s the point of just destroying a bridge?’

The use of special effect is quite unique: even though the movie is about superheroes, they seem to be there for a narrative purpose, instead of charming the spectator. This reveals a very ‘Italian touch’, giving a great attention to details and emotion. Exporting the movie abroad, do you think this could be a strength or a weakness?

‘ consideration is absolutely right, not only for what concerns the foreign market, but also for the Italian as well. It is important to over go a lot of prejudice that comes from producers and viewers as well. I think that a myth can be told in very different ways, not necessarily only in the ‘Hollywood-ian’ way. I have noticed during projections in different countries, including the London one, that after the first moments of shock, people appreciate our work, and they understand the purpose and the goal we had in mind while setting up our special effects, which combine digital and mechanical ones. Our special effects try to make magic of something ordinary, exactly as happen in real life’.

In March 2014 ‘The Invisible Boy’ won the Young European award, legitimising the international success among the youngsters. What did you expect from the London Festival audience?

‘Well, let me say that such award has been one that made me happier. That said, it seems that people liked it. I have seen people laughing, crying and participating a lot with the story; sometimes more than the Italian audience. Maybe because they have a more instinctual approach to movies, and they don’t have all the prejudice Italians have’.

You represent Italy around the world: what does it mean to you?

‘For me Italy means many different things: it is a country that I love for many reasons, but for just as many I also hate it. Too often Italy means clientelism, personal relationship, problems and we are considered lazy, mournful…. So with my movies I try to describe the beauty of my country, and of my people’.



adolescenceBFIgabriele salvatoressuperherosupermanthe invisible boy
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