R.I.P. Tonino Guerra, prolific Italian screenwriter who worked with Fellini, Antonioni, and many others
The screenwriter Tonino Guerra—who scripted some of the most famous works by Italian directors such as Federico Fellini and Michelangelo Antonioni—died yesterday at his home in central Italy, after a long illness. He was 92.
Guerra, who began writing during his time as a World War II concentration camp prisoner, was also a poet, painter, and sculptor. But he was best known for his collaborations with most of the greatest Italian film directors of the twentieth century, many of whom he outlived. After breaking into the business in 1956 by co-writing Man And Wolves with Elio Petri, he first earned his place in film history with his work on the script for Michelangelo Antonioni’s L’Avventura. After that film won the Jury Prize—after being booed—at the 1960 Cannes Film Festival and went on to become an international sensation, Guerra worked on several more Antonioni films, including La Notte, L’eclisse, The Red Desert, Blow-Up, Zabriskie Point, Beyond The Clouds, Identification Of A Woman, The Mystery Of Oberwald, and Antonioni’s final work, his segment of the 2004 omnibus feature Eros.
The full roll call of noteworthy Italian directors with whom Guerra worked includes Federico Fellini (on Amarcord, And The Ship Sails On, and Ginger And Fred), Vittorio De Sica (Marriage, Italian Style), Francesco Rosi (The Mattei Affair, Lucky Luciano, Illustrious Corpses, Christ Stopped At Eboli, Three Brothers, Chronicle Of A Death Foretold), Marco Bellocchio (Henry IV), the Taviani Brothers (The Night Of The Shooting Stars, Kaos, Good Morning Babylon, The Sun Also Shines At Night), Renato Castellani (Ghost—Italian Style), and Mario Monicelli (Casanova 70, Caro Michelle), as well as his original screenwriting partner, Elio Petri (The Assassin, The 10th Victim, A Quiet Place In The County).
He also worked with Andrei Tarkovksy on Nostalghia and made several films with the Greek director Theo Angelopoulos that included Voyage To Cythera (for which he was awarded the Best Screenplay prize at Cannes), Ulysses’ Gaze,and The Dust Of Time, which would be the last completed feature for both of them. In 2008, Guerra was the subject of the documentary Tonino Guerra: A Poet In The Movies. His son, Andrea Guerra, is a successful film composer (Hotel Rwanda, Letters To Juliet).