The world suddenly widened: more possibilities, more hopes. Life goes beyond boundaries. This was the air you could breathe in the XVI, in a monastery, in Italy.
“I gioielli di Maria” is the story of an abbess in the middle of a Holy Inquisition process showing two lovers accused of witchcraft. During the tale the abbess will be stuck in between her faith and her very essence of woman, ending up in trying to figure out if her right place in the society really exist. In the clash between moral laws and religious rules she will have to find the courage to free those complex ruinous lives into rebirth chances.
Is the story of an abbess, Maria, that during the Inquisition rescues two woman’s lives condemned for their love one to each other: they were a noble lady and a peasant. They’d be sentenced one to seclusion and to be burnt the other. Maria had been living whole her life in a convent, for a similar episode during her childhood she agreed herself to be confined there. She had no spiritual call nevertheless. In the very moment Emilia and Giordana enter the monastery, both proud and not defeated by common rules, Maria opens herself to new point of views. Ballardino, the Inquisitor that supervises the convent’s life, holds a lot of doubts on Maria’s behavior. An incident that resemble more kind of a miracle happens: a fire breaks out in the convent and Maria takes the initiative for the first time in her life to save the two lovers’ lives. That act for Maria means to awake now from that state of resignation that ruled all her life, and also changes the Inquisitor’s point of view. A women’s story that are not defeated by their epoch and fight for their freedom, and the story of a man, Ballardino, that even considering the restrictive laws of his role will find the strength to leave more room to possibilities than prejudice.
The choice to locate “I gioielli” in Trentino went out spontaneously during the writing of the script, it simply was a natural consequence of the development of the story and of the historical ambientation of that era. In the 1563 in Trento the long Council ended: it was meant to “reconcile” Catholics and Protestants, but after 3 Popes and 19 years the only goal reached was to stuck in a serie of rigid rules that in fact were opposite to what Lutero had asserted and professed. The year after born a man that was going to “subvert the universal order”: Galileo Galilei. His studies, going deeper in the Copernicus theories, brought him to be processed for heresy and he had to give up… but a new start was spread already. “I gioielli” ideally wants to represent the moral journey of Italy in those ages in which what seemed to be one first opening of the Church ends up to be a new re-affermation of old, rigid, unacceptable rules.
The soul of this tale is that anything can hold the upcoming of a new era: no logic collective rules or apparently consensual laws, no matter if applied with strictness and coercion, will never be able to stop fresh ideas to come.
Maria: Abbess of the convent in which takes place the story. She had been relegate there since her childhood after her beloved wet nurse was burnt to stake. This was her parents’ decision, and she had accepted this destiny without oppositions. The terrible Emilia and Virginia’s fate will move and awake her consciousness toward a new wish of redemption.
Giordana: The young Emilia’s maidservant. She’s a proud girl, she never gives up to herself and feelings even when she becames aware of what end is ahead.
Ballarino: Young inquisitor, a man that suffers from himself and from the “weight of his unshakable faith”. Young, handsome with a stern gaze that sometimes reveals shades of irony and touches of sweetness.
Suor Celeste: (Galileo Galilei’s daughter took her vows and retired in a convent with the name of Suor Celeste) The nun in charge of the convent, she supports Maria with kind of maternal love. Don’t know what age: she could be a woman around 50, but a younger or older woman can suit for this role… it depends from the actress we’ll find for it.
Emilia: Aristocratic lady, with imperious features, smart and brilliant. She gives up everything she has in the name of love for her young servant, and for that love she’s prepared to die (even if her social class and wealth will spare her the stake).
Fra Tulipano: The monk that assists Ballarino. A vile and ambiguous man, that draws his strength only from the Inquisitor’s presence.
Ugone: Sharecropper factotum, Useppe’s father. He’s loyal to Maria who saved his life. Widowed, he tries to be a good father for Useppe.
Useppe: Young son of Ugone. He takes advantage of the frail Suor Luisa, after he’ll try to wipe out his responsibility with the escape.
“I’ve had a father, Roberto Pariante, who’s been Director’s Assistant for 50 years, starting from the 50’s as Zavattini’s assistant, then with Rosi, Squitieri, Magni. From him I’ve inherited the deep passion for this craft and my extremely serious way to approach to a so complex profession.
I like heroes stories, those who bet and fight the destiny. Even more, I love those I call heroes without clamor: those who act not to be seen, who don’t show themselves, who are not looking for ostentation and don’t demand for rewards and glory."