Zeus Machine. L’invincibile

Zeus Machine. The Invincible
David Zamagni, Nadia Ranocchi
Italy 2019

21.02.2020 22:00 Eng. subtitles Zoo Palast 2
22.02.2020 19:30 Eng. subtitles CinemaxX 4
24.02.2020 19:00 Eng. subtitles Cubix 9
26.02.2020 18:30 Eng. subtitles b-ware! Ladenkino
28.02.2020 19:30 Eng. subtitles Colosseum 1

74 min. Italian.

The Zapruder filmmakersgroup tells the never-before-told story of Hercules in twelve vignettes. At petrol stations and roundabouts, in sports halls, sculpture storerooms and at music festivals, we encounter the Greek hero as a distant translation: performances by bodies and machines re-enact scenes from sword-and-sandal films linked to him. In this film, we are confronted with Hercules and the idea of the myth in a manner that is both scattered and compressed: the stories have become unrecognisable and what remains is always the same motif of a fight – against bulldozers, training bags, time, or oneself. Zeus Machine. L’invincible is the document of performances and is as a film itself a performance that sets narrative, documentary and experiment modes in motion to really shake up an old man before picking up the vestiges of him that remain. (ab)

David Zamagni was born in Rimini, Italy in 1971. After training as a surveyor, he began studying film at the University of Bologna DAMS - Drama, Art and Music Studies. In 1994, Zamagni became a member of the theatre group Motus. He turned to film in the late 1990s and in 2000 founded the film collective Zapruder together with Nadia Ranocchi and Monaldo Moretti. Ranocchi and Zamagni have been writing, producing and directing together since 1998.

Nadia Ranocchi was born in Rimini, Italy in 1973. In 1997, she completed her studies in psychology at the University of Bologna. Together with David Zamagni and Monaldo Moretti, Ranocchi founded the film collective Zapruder in 2000. The group stages video installations with a particular focus on language and media. Ranocchi and Zamagni have been writing, producing and directing together since 1998.

A story about ZEUS MACHINE

The central theme of ZEUS MACHINE. L’INVINCIBILE is myth. To talk about it we chose Hercules, one of the most popular characters of classical antiquity and the only hero who is remembered for his labours.
Adopting Hercules as a symbol for life itself and the struggle to face it, this film proposes an interpretation of society based on an absolute value, not a transient truth – an invincible image of the world that doesn’t relate to the dogma of linear time: myth, a circular element of unknown origin, with no beginning or ending. Myth has always determined events and guided all human actions, and because of its nature it is a perfect tool for exploring the very essence of cinema.
ZEUS MACHINE. L’INVINCIBILE is divided into twelve “cases”, recalling Hercules’ labours, that bring to the surface what remains of myth nowadays. In our work, we divide time between our domestic library and the sets of our projects. The two influence each other and they inevitably intertwine with the environment where we live: a small village with two bars, two churches, two banks, and a thousand inhabitants, mostly workers and farmers. In this place, every single event produces un unbridled mythology, from bar to bar, from church to church, without constraint. An example dates back to the preproduction of ZEUS MACHINE. L’INVINCIBLE, when we found out that some local youths were convinced that our job was shooting porn. One night, at the bar, we approached them and after a few drinks they brazenly volunteered as actors for “one of our films”. We recruited them on the spot. That same bar, run by twin sisters, located in an area that curiously abounds with twins, became a key location in the film. We couldn't but follow the mythological rule of the world as a revelation, since Hercules himself had a twin.

Other stories about ZEUS MACHINE. L’INVINCIBLE
The search for Hercules’ traces resulted in at least twelve different sets, spread over three years of travels and encounters. Some of those encounters go even further back in time, as in the case of the little snake handler girl, whom we first met when she was seven years old. We were in Cocullo, on the eve of the San Domenico celebrations, and she was sitting on the floor holding a snake in her hands. We talked with her a bit and she almost convinced us to take the beast in our hands, but we weren't ready for that yet. Two years later we went back to Abruzzi to film her face and to follow her into the woods in search of “her” snakes. Today Francesca should be about thirteen years old.
Even the animation episode involves a series of encounters. We wanted to meet one of the actors of sword-and-sandal cinema who had played the role of Hercules, or that of his fiend, or friend. For this purpose, we met in Rome with Marco Giusti, a film critic and author fond of genre films, together with Steve della Casa, of “Il grande libro di Ercole. Il cinema mitologico in Italia” (“The Great Book of Hercules”, a volume dedicated to mythological cinema in Italy). With him we surveyed the still-existing Herculeses (few) and those we could involve in our project (even fewer). We left with the idea of meeting again soon to see what was left of Cinecittà's golden age costumes. In the meantime, a friend of ours remembered that a close family friend of his was a famous actor who had starred in Cinecittà and Hollywood productions when he was young, and later turned to dubbing and theatre: Sergio Fantoni.
Incredible destiny had linked all of us without any of us knowing it: in fact, Sergio had already taken part in our first film, SPRING ROLL (2001), as he was the voice of APOCALYPSE NOW’s Colonel Kurtz. What’s more, he had also been Hercules' antagonist in HERCULES AND THE QUEEN OF LYDIA! We went to Milan to meet him in person and asked him to tell us his stories of cinema and theatre. He then got tired of talking and left us standing. More than twenty years ago, Sergio Fantoni had a laryngectomy and it was only thanks to his work as an actor that he was able to come up with a technique that would allow him to speak without using devices. It was exactly what we would never have imagined to find, namely, the perfect voice for our spaceship shaped like Ercole Farnese's statue, as well as a dear friendship.

The quality of time
In ZEUS MACHINE. L’INVINCIBLE we had sets of various kinds. Sometimes they were intimate and placed in a protected space where we could measure everything and repeat scenes, while others were exactly the opposite: arranged in the presence of an audience, disguised as a live performance, and we only had one take to shoot the scene – a situation very similar to filming the demolition of a bridge or a building.
Something anomalous happens with this type of sequence in the film; we're not talking about potential editing or photography problems, we are talking about time, or more precisely, about the quality of time.
This is a crucial topic in our movie. In fact, in ZEUS MACHINE. L’INVINCIBLE we show two different times running side by side and mutually fuelling each other: the concrete, historical time of mythology, and the motionless, out-of-history time of myth.
From here, a purely cinematographic equation is born: myth : set = mythology : editing.
Every once in a while, in the twelve cases featured in our movie, we experience these different typologies of time, which combined compose a narrative machine with a very tight inner structure. (Nadia Ranocchi, David Zamagni)

“The battle, as long as it lasts, just because it lasts, constitutes a sort of victory… the darkest moment would be that in which, at the end of the battle, one would have to say ‘an hour has passed’”. (Furio Jesi)

Who is Zapruder

David Zamagni and Nadia Ranocchi, collectively referred to as Zapruder, write and produce films, video installations, and live performances together. The name Zapruder refers to the amateur filmmaker Abraham Zapruder, who captured the famous images of John F. Kennedy’s assassination and thus became, by chance, a narrator in the century of the decline of all historical narratives.
The work of Zapruder is based on the research of new visual and linguistic codes for non-linear narrative structures. In their films, Ranocchi and Zamagni experiment with what they call “editing by sums”, in which short sequences with no apparent reciprocal relation are juxtaposed one after the other. This structure recalls the free association of ideas that is used in psychoanalytic practice to explore the depth of the patient’s character and promote catharsis. At the same time, this type of editing evokes the bombardment of indiscriminate information and images that overwhelm and condition everyone's daily life.

Production David Zamagni, Nadia Ranocchi. Production company Zapruder film (Roncofreddo, Italy). Written and directed by David Zamagni, Nadia Ranocchi. Cinematography Monaldo Moretti. Editing David Zamagni, Nadia Ranocchi. Music Francesco Fuzz / ZEUS! Brasini. Sound design Mattia Dallara. Sound Gilles Barberis. Production design David Zamagni, Nadia Ranocchi. Costumes David Zamagni, Nadia Ranocchi. Make-up Ginevra Mei. Assistant director Monica Comandini. Production manager Nadia Ranocchi. Co-producer Beatrice Bulgari. Co-production In Between Art Film. With Sergio Fantoni (Ercole Farnese), Paolo Zanfanti (Sosia / Gas station attendant), Mirco Zanfanti (Mercurio / Mugger), Francesca Ricci (Snake handler), Marco Mazzoni (Drunk guy at supermarket), Enrico Zoffoli (James Dean scrapyard), Nicola Menghetti (Wrestler), Bastien Meunier (Ecarteur), Elenora Amadori (Time Player), Luca Cavina (ZEUS!), Paolo Mongardi (ZEUS!).

Films

David Zamagni: 2000: H.O.L.Y. (3 min.). 2001: Spring Roll (20 min.). 2002: Totentanz (12 min.), J.G. (12 min.), Doggy Bag with Spring Roll (24 min.). 2004: Rebus per Ada (16 min.). 2005: Morning Smile (30 min.). 2007: Daimon (50 min.). 2008: Pletora. Il dono (Installation). 2009: Cock-Crow (44 min.). 2010: All Inclusive (67 min.), Joule (22 min.). 2011: Suite (3 min.), Spell. The Hypnotist Dog (22 min.). 2012: Pletora (16 min.), I topi lasciano la nave / The Rats Leave the Ship (30 min.). 2015: Speak in Tongues (22 min.). 2016: Salita all’Olimpo (12 min.). 2017: Phoenix, Amore brucio... (12 min.).

Nadia Ranocchi: 2000: H.O.L.Y. (3 min.). 2001: Spring Roll (20 min.). 2002: Totentanz (12 min.), J.G. (12 min.), Doggy Bag with Spring Roll (24 min.). 2004: Rebus per Ada (16 min.). 2005: Morning Smile (30 min.). 2007: Daimon (50 min.). 2008: Pletora. Il dono (Installation). 2009: Cock-Crow (44 min.). 2010: All Inclusive (67 min.), Joule (22 min.). 2011: Suite (3 min.), Spell. The Hypnotist Dog (22 min.). 2012: Pletora (16 min.), I topi lasciano la nave / The Rats Leave the Ship (30 min.). 2015: Speak in Tongues (22 min.). 2016: Salita all’Olimpo (12 min.). 2017: Phoenix, Amore brucio... (12 min.).

Photo: © Zapruder