Silvio Soldini’s new film Il colore nascosto delle cose (Emma), shortlisted at the Venice Film Festival, to be released in cinemas September 8 by Videa, stems from the intense experience of the good 2013 documentary (Per altri occhi). The film is an unusual sentimental comedy, with the psychological richness typical of the works by the Milanese director, author of films such as Pane e tulipani and Un'anima divisa in due. It is the story of the encounter between Emma (Valeria Golino), a blind osteopath recently separated from her husband, and Teo (Adriano Giannini), who works in advertising, a man with little inclination for relations, who decides to go out with her because of a bet with a colleague, “can the blind woman take me to bed”. 

“Sight leads us to judge and keeps us on the surface, especially when we meet someone for the first time, we immediately make so many decisions about him with one glance – sais Soldini – it’s different to know someone if you can’t see him. From a handshake, from the energy that comes from him, there comes a deeper and more subtle understanding of him. For the first time Teo doesn’t feel judged and how Emma listens to him is different from the way other people listen, especially in a world of appearances like the one he comes from”. 

The scriptwriters themselves were surprised in meeting the blind people who helped them focus on so many details, treated with accuracy and respect. “When we read the script to them, it’s as if our blind friends projected the film in their heads, demonstrating that we can also see without eyes”, sais Leondeff. He highlighted how there are more couples in which the woman can see and the man is blind “perhaps because culturally women are more inclined to take care, but we were interested in the opposite, to portray a man who has never taken on any responsibility and a woman who has a greater psychological balance despite her handicap.”

Valeria Golino, perfect in the role of Emma, is sure of herself, ironic and full of resources despite her disability. She recounts the long preparation for the role, “Silvio put me into contact with blind people and health workers who really went out of their way, joyfully, helping my technical, sensorial and psychological preparation. I did a lot of exercises blindfold, walking around the city with a cane, it’s not that easy to use. They showed me how to move around the house, how to cook, how to answer the telephone and to use a cell phone. Perhaps the most complicated thing was not being able to use my eyes for acting, never looking at Adriano.”

“Not being looked at by your partner was something new and strange”, sais Giannini, who describes his character: “Teo is a man escaping from women, responsibility, himself, his past. The encounter with Emma and the sensorial closeness, the truth she carries, force him to look inside and question himself. In the end, he is the blind one, he is a wretch and he does all kinds of bad stuff: he lies, he goes from one bed to the other, he betrays his girlfriend (Anna Ferzetti) and puts off the moment to go and live together”. 

From the experience of the documentary Per altri occhi stemmed the will to deconstruct so many common myths, because blind people live a much more normal life that what we imagine, they do sports, from sailing to baseball, they go to the cinema (for example the app Movie Reading provides an audio guide for scenes with no dialogue). “Thanks to the documentary –sais Soldini – I discovered a world that I thought I knew, but I didn’t”. 

The film also includes two characters that portray different nuances of this condition: the partially sighted Patti (Arianna Scommegna) and the very young student Nadia (Laura Adriani) who still can’t accept her disability. “All the blind people I spoke with – sais Soldini – told me that the moment when they lost their sight was the hardest. To accept being considered by others as blind, to pull out the white cane, is a moment they put off until they can, but all of them were able to react, after a phase of depression, with vitality and strength, with the awareness, the will and the ability to live life. Nadia’s character is similar to Emma’s, because her strength and lightness, not to be given for granted, are a conquest stemming from a phase of desperation. Now Emma is so strong she leaves her husband and lives alone.” At the end, a question on the film not competing: is it a problem? “It’s great, the anxiety of the film being released in cinemas tomorrow is enough”. 

Il colore nascosto delle cose is produced by Lumière & CO. with Rai Cinema, in co-production with RSI RADIOTELEVISIONE SVIZZERA/SRG SSR, with a contribution by MiBACT and the support of Regione Lazio.