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Documents on Casa Malaparte

“I designed the scenery.”

Casa Malaparte forms part of the collective mythology of architects.
Lying flat atop a cliff on the Isle of Capri, facing out to sea, stuck to the rock like a piece of chewing gum, with its open window in the fireplace, in order to view the sea through fire.

Over the years, the house has stirred emotions, and continues to do so among many.

Here we present two types of documents produced around it, defining of two different scenarios we can find therein.

One: on the islands, nature is the center, the starting point and endpoint of the project, of the scene. In his much-fêted novel La Pelle, writer and owner of the house, Curzio Malaparte, makes protagonists of the construction and its architect. Memorable. (I’m not going to unveil the plot. Have a look later).

Two: the house, in its vigorous dialogue with nature is not lost in the domestic. It is transformed into a scenario, a grandiose setting for memorable moments in life: in his film Le Mépris, Jean-Luc Godard, employs the house, as if it were an instrument of alchemy, to transform Brigitte Bardot into an unattainable goddess. The house as a monumental setting.

Seeing the documents on the filming published here reminds of just how much of stage design architecture can sometimes have.

Josep Lluís Mateo

(1)

Credits featured photograph: Casa Malaparte © François Halard

Found Paper I

La Pelle

Curzio Malaparte, 1949

One day when I was at my house on Capri my faithful housekeeper, Maria, came to tell me that a German general, accompanied by his aide-de-camp, was in the hall, and wished to look over the house. It was the spring of 1942, not long before the Battle of El Alamein. […]

I went to meet the German general and took him into my library. The general, noticing my uniform, which was that of a member of the Alpine Regiment, asked me on which front I was serving. “On the Finnish front,” I replied. “I envy you,” he said. “I suffer from the heat. And in Africa it’s too hot.” He smiled a little sadly, took off his cap and passed his hand across his brow. I saw to my amazement that his skull was of an extraordinary shape. It was abnormally elevated, or rather it was prolonged in an upward direction, like an enormous yellow pear. I accompanied him all over the house, going from room to room, from the library to the cellar, and when he returned to the vast hall with its great windows, which look out to the most beautiful scenery in the world, I offered him a glass of Vesuvian wine from the vineyards of Pompeii. “Prosit!” he said, raising his glass, and he drained it at a single draught. Then, before leaving, he asked me whether I had bought my house as it stood or whether I had designed and built it myself. I replied -and it was not true- that I had bought the house as it stood. And with a sweeping gesture, indicating the sheer cliff of Matromania, the three gigantic rocks of the Faraglioni, the peninsula of Sorrento, the islands of the Sirens, the far-away blue coastline of Amalfi, and the golden sands of Paestum, shimmering in the distance, I said to him: “I designed the scenery.”

Ach, so!” exclaimed General Rommel. And after shaking me by the hand he departed.

I remained in the doorway, watching him as he climbed the steep steps, carved out of the rock, which lead from my house to the town of Capri. All of a sudden I saw him stop, wheel round abruptly, give me a long, hard look, then turn and go away.”

(1)

All quotes by Malaparte, Curzio, The Skin. Translated from Italian by David Moore. Originally published in Italian in 1949 under the title La Pelle (Evanston, Illinois: Northwestwern University Press, 1977) pp 203-205

Found Paper II

Le Mépris

Jean-Luc Godard, 1963

(1)

All quotes by Godard, Jean-Luc, Le Mépris: Manuscrit (Paris: Editions des Saints-Pères, 2013) pp 67-78

(2)

All images from the film Le Mépris. Year: 1963. Director: Jean-Luc Godard. Writer: Alberto Moravia (novel), Jean-Luc Godard. Soundtrack: Piero Piccioni. Cast: Brigitte Bardot, Michel Piccoli, Jack Palance, Giorgia Moll, Fritz Lang.

Posted
28.Jul.2016 3633 views
Author
Curzio Malaparte

Curzio Malaparte (Prato,1898 – Rome, 1957), born Kurt Erich Suckert, graduated at La Sapienza University of Rome and started his career as a journalist in 1918. Malaparte was a journalist, dramatist, short-story writer, novelist and diplomat. His main writings are Viva Caporetto! (1921), Technique du coup d’état (1931), Donna Come Me (1940) and La Pelle (1949).

Posted
28.Jul.2016 3633 views
Author
Jean-Luc Godard

Jean-Luc Godard (Paris, 1930) is a French-Swiss film director, screenwriter and film critic, one of the main representatives of the 1960s French film movement La Nouvelle Vague. From his first film, À bout de souffle (1960) to Notre musique (2004), he addressed all film genres. In Between 1988 and 1998 he produced the series Histoire(s) du cinéma, a monumental project which combined all the innovations of his video work, the twentieth-century history and the history of film.

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