The Italian filmmaker Michelangelo Antonioni made “L’eclisse” in 1962. The film begins at dawn on a summer morning inside a modernist apartment located on the suburban fringes of Rome. In the opening scene a beautiful young literary translator named Vittoria ends a relationship with her writer lover, Riccardo. Riccardo’s final plea: he only wanted to make her happy. Vittoria listlessly responds, “When we first met, I was 20 years old. I was happy then.” She subsequently emerges alone from his home into a barren, interstitial landscape. For the remainder of the film Vittoria is a tourist figure traversing the urban, architectural and economic landscapes of Rome.

“I was happy then” is both a book and film by Bureau for Open Culture that unites the filmic spaces of Antonioni’s “L’eclisse” and the present-day reality of Siena, Italy. Through the framework of a tourist guide that focuses on the topics of alienation, architecture, economy, love and urbanization, this work drawn from research and lived experience is a means to explore postwar and contemporary life in Siena.

As printed matter and film, “I was happy” then extends the possibilities for dissemination of written and visual material into the public sphere. It draws on the potential of uniting complementary qualities of book and film into a singular work.

Filmmaker: Cassandra Troyan (cassandratroyan.com)

Produced by Bureau for Open Culture. Visit bureauforopenculture.org to learn more.

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