Events > Paris Events > SECOND BURNING OF ROME BY DARIUS KADIVAR
Cinecittà's Studio Set on Fire endangered Classic Film Sets
'If to smoke you turn I shall not cease to fiddle while you burn.' -Nero on Rome Burning
A fire ripped through part of Italy's Cinecitta film studios late Thursday, destroying sets at the famed production complex where directors from William Wyler, Sergio Leone, Martin Scorsese to Federico Fellini have shot films. Even Iranian Stars like Fardin and fellow tars worked on some Italian Productions co-produced with Iranian Studio's in the 1960's and 1970's. Iranian Dubbers also dubbed many Italian films for the Iranian market on location at the Studio.
Firefighters battled overnight to bring the fire under control and prevent the flames from spreading to other areas of the sprawling, historic film studios or to the urban neighbourhood surrounding it.
The fire started in the hangar full of old film, other materials and sets, before spreading to neighbouring buildings in the complex. Among the sets destroyed were those for the recent HBO-BBC miniseries Rome.
Because of all the wood and synthetic materials used in the creation of the sets, firefighters battled flames of up to 30 or 40 metres high, Rome firefighter Chief Guido Parisi told the ANSA news agency.
Cinecitta, which celebrated its 70th anniversary in April, is just a few kilometres from the historic centre of Rome.
Below is a complete Report by Times Online Correspondent Richard Owen:
A fire at Cinecittà, Rome’s historic film studios, has destroyed the set of the television series Rome.
Eleven fire engines and fifty firemen fought flames up to 40m (131ft) high, preventing the blaze from consuming other historic sets such as that for Ben Hur and classic films by Federico Fellini. Several fire engines were sent from Ciampino, Rome’s second airport, which is nearby.
Guido Parisi, head of the Rome fire brigade, said his men had stopped the blaze reaching the densely populated nearby residential quarter of Tuscolano.
One resident, Mario Rizzo, 42, said he had been “taking the night air” on his balcony at midnight before turning in when he saw an inferno leaping into the sky from the studio complex, with pieces of burning wood and cardboard floating down into the streets.
The fire consumed an area of 3,000 square metres that housed the sets for Rome, made by the BBC and HBO. “There were flames up to 30 to 40 metres high, because it was wood and synthetic materials that were burning,” Mr Parisi said. He said there were no injuries from the flames or smoke.
The sprawling Cinecittà studio complex, founded in 1937 by Benito Mussollini, the Fascist dictator, celebrated its 70th anniversary in April with a party attended by a host of film stars and directors. In the 1950s and 1960s — the era of La Dolce Vita, Fellini’s masterpiece, which was also filmed there — Cinecittà became known as “Hollywood on the Tiber”.
Iconic Cinecittà productions included not only Ben Hur, (1959), directed by William Wyler and starring Charlton Heston, but also epics such as Cleopatra (1963), directed by Joseph Mankiewicz with Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor (who began their affair on the set), and Quo Vadis (1951) by Mervyn LeRoy, starring Peter Ustinov.
The studios were later largely used for television productions, but underwent a revival as a film production centre in the 1990s, when Cinecittà was privatised, with 25 per cent of the shares remaining in state hands. Martin Scorsese’s Gangs of New York was filmed at Cinecittà, where the set of nineteenth century New York was constructed, and so was Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ.
Sandro Battisti, head of the studios, said an investigation was under way to ascertain the cause of the blaze and assess the damage. He said the situation was now under control. Mr Parisi said first indications suggested that the fire had been caused by a short circuit.
A spokesman for Cinecittà said that as far as the studio was aware filming of Rome had been completed, although the studio had hoped to use the sets of ancient Rome for other projects
Official Website of Cinecitta Studio's
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Photo1: Title ©imdb & photocomposition DK
Photo 2: Cinecitta Burning ©AFP
Photo3: Epics of Yesterday and Today shot in Cinecittà ©imdb.com.
Photo 4: Visconti’s The Leopard with Alain Delon, Claudia Cardinal and Burt Lancaster ©imdb.com
Photo 5: Sets from Ben Hur, Quo Vadis?, Cleopatra constructed on Cinecittà Lot ©imdb.com
Photo 6: Ancient Rome in Ben Hur, and HBO series ROME, and modern Rome in Wyler’s Roman Holliday, Visconti’s Sicily in Le Guepard aka The Leopard ©imdb.com
Photo 7: Hollywood Movie History is indepted to Cinecittà’s Golden Age as much as European Cinema Classics ©imdb.com
Photo 8: Iranian Stars like Fardin and Malek Motei ( here with William Wyler director of Ben Hur) also worked in Italy. Fardin was to play in a Popular Western Spaghetti in the late 60’s. (See Article)
Photo 9: Cinecittà Studio’s in the Outskirts of Rome and The famous Statue from Ben Hur’s Stadium still stands in the back lot.