«Le premier homme» of Gianni Amelio
The last Gianni Amelio’s picture, Le premier home, based on the unfinished novel by Albert Camus, is more an autobiographical narrative than a mere cinematic adaptation. Facing Camus’ text, it is as if Amelio had recalled its previous attitude towards the South (not only a historic and geographical notion, but also a way of «rubbing history against the grain»). If the novel goes back and forth from present to past, the film is necessarily set in a «double past»: the 1957 of the main character’s return home, and the flashbacks about his childhood. The evocation of the past is achieved through a few elements, in an almost ascetic mood. In doing so, Amelio puts a greater distance from the historical background, and at the same time he puts himself on a more philosophical level. The South, for both Camus and Amelio, is a point of observation where considering the limits of History and Progress. But in Le premier home Amelio’s attitude is more reflexive, even sad: as if the South couldn’t be a place of hope anymore.