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Sironi, a record director

by Agnese Priorelli

A Lombard who lives in Umbria and tells the Sicily of Commissioner Montalbano: “In Umbria there is only the sea, but for me it is not a problem, so I can live in Sicily when I turn the series”.

Alberto Sironi was our guest, and with him we had a chat on the occasion of the Fa ‘la cosa giusta, to discover all the secrets of the most famous commissioner in Italy. The director of the record – almost twenty years behind the camera of the series with an average of 10 million viewers – was trained at the drama school of Piccolo in Milan where, under the guidance of Giorgio Strehler, he began working as an actor in small theatrical parts. In the seventies he began collaborating with Rai as a writer and director: after a series of experiences as director, at the end of the nineties he arrived Commissioner Montalbano, based on the novels written by Andrea Camilleri.

 

Alberto Sironi

Now you live in Umbria: what is your relationship with this region?

I married a umbra and now I live here. Initially the Umbrians are a bit ‘closed – this must be said – but then when you get in confidence with them they are friendly people. I would very much like to tell a story set in this territory.

Her career began in the theater with Giorgio Strehler: how much did she use this school to make television?

In the six years I have been with Strehler, at the Piccolo in Milan, I learned a gym that facilitated my work on television; I also prefer actors who have done theater, it’s easier for me to work with them.

Tell us a secret: What does it work in this tv-series?

This success continues over time because the public loves the stories of Andrea Camilleri. Andrea tells the characters, describes the environments, tells a type of world set today, but that is actually a child of his world of many years ago. The stories thus become somewhat historical. We have removed the cars: there is no one in our films on the streets, they are deserted. Commissioner Montalbano has a car that was old since the first film came out. We have created a sort of magical world to support Camilleri’s way of narrating. This is what the audience loves. Another thing that appreciates a lot is the desire to live well with the Commissioner. Italians want to eat well, they love women and they need their friends. When the audience waits for the release of a Montalbano film, it is as if waiting to meet a friend.

Do you think the success of the series drags the literature or is it the other way around?

This is difficult to establish. Surely we have helped to sell more than normal publishing, but the character of Montalbano was already quite popular. Camilleri started writing in 1997, we started shooting a couple of years later. They are certainly two different ways, there are those who love the literary genre who the film, so it can not be established.

 

Montalbano is broadcast in over twenty countries around the world: did you expect all this?

When we started, nobody could imagine the success that Montalbano would have had in Italy and in the world. Today we shoot in 4K, a technically advanced system, but until a few years ago – by my choice – we were shooting in 35 millimeters: this allowed us to have a perfect product, with more definition and depth of field. In this way we have conquered the US market and beyond.

Have you ever thought about leaving the series?

I still like Montalbano, but I do not think it will last that much longer, maybe even two or three years.

Does he want to tell us some behind-the-scenes curiosity?

The first that comes to mind was when Belen Rodriguez arrived to shoot the episode in which she was the protagonist. There were people everywhere waiting for her: so we decided to have her arrive on the set a day late from the expected and on board an ambulance.

Will Montalbano ever marry Livia?

No, he will never marry her.