"If I think about the future of cinema as art, I shiver" (Y. Ozu, 1959)

DIARY (1) - Bernardo and the Other - a private diary (Bernardo Bertolucci)

Monday, 23 August 2021 15:42

Jacopo Olmo Antinori

Bernardo and the Other - a private, fictional diary



August 28, 2011



Today I turn fourteen. Happy birthday to me!

Dear diary, I have a feeling you wish to know why I am starting you. After all, never before in my life I have kept a diary - not even when I first learned how to write - so why should I start one now, and why specifically on my fourteenth birthday?

It is indeed a good question.


Well, dear friend: it is because something good is happening in my life. I am to become an actor soon, and this career of mine will begin with an important film director called Bernardo Bertolucci.

Since we just met, I should fill you in on some important details about me: you may have noticed my quite peculiar name - Jacopo Olmo. You will be surprised to discover that these two are both first names! I am neither entirely Jacopo, nor exclusively Olmo. Although, originally, I was supposed to be the latter: only Olmo.

As far as I know, my parents wanted to call me like that after the main character in a film called Novecento. But this guy, Olmo, is allegedly a communist, and this detail - along with the oddity of the name itself - gave rise to a huge controversy between my mum and her own parents, and so she was forced to compromise by adding ‘Jacopo’ in front of ‘Olmo’. And that is how ‘Jacopo Olmo’ became my name.

But the reason why I am telling you this, friend, is because Novecento is an old film by Bernardo Bertolucci. And, as I told you, I am to work very soon with this director. Strange, isn’t it?

Anyways, I should have realized by now that my parents like that movie - and all the other Bertolucci films - quite a lot. They are excited for what is going to happen. Which brings me to why I am starting you, dear diary: today is my fourteenth birthday, and this year my present was a collection of Bertolucci DVDs.


I don’t really know the films this director has made. I imagine must have watched some of them when I was younger - some of their titles definitely ring a bell in my head, like this one called The Last Emperor. At any rate, my folks advised me to watch some (if not all of them) to prepare for the film. I agree with them, but if I am to do it, I want to do it properly. And that’s how you will help me: every time I watch one of these films, I will write down here my thoughts, so that they don’t get lost. You will have to collect and record all my impressions: this is because if I need to talk about them with someone (and especially with Mr. Bertolucci) and I don’t remember something I have thought about them, I can go back and consult you to remember what to say. Is this OK with you?




I don’t have a DVD player here in Ponza, so you’re gonna have to wait a little. I will start as soon as I come back to Rome, which is very soon. We start shooting in the beginning of October, but I have a lot of rehearsals to do in September. I also begin High School. I’m just going to be in class for a couple of weeks, and then I will leave to begin filming.

I hope my professors will understand.


These are exciting times. I feel something very strange, dear diary. I mean, I feel OK. Everything is good. But I feel serene - as serene as I don’t think I have ever been. I feel like all is going to be fine, eventually. Even with my pimples - which I think make me look much uglier than I really am - things will be OK.

I am really curious to begin filming, and to get to know better Mr. Bertolucci. He seems like a nice person.

You know, friend, the last time I met him, back in June, he gave me something. He gave me this huge expensive book with all the poems of his father. My mom told me he was an important poet. Anyways, he wrote something for me inside the book:


To Jacopo Olmo, so that his summer may be shorter than usual and also a bit closer to me, and also, so that he may know where is it that I come from”


I think this was so sweet of him.

Anyways, this is not the point here. The point is I have to watch his films. So get ready for that, diary.

It’s late now. We have to go and have dinner.

Until next time, then!


Jacopo Olmo




September 13, 2011



Hi diary.

I came back a couple of weeks ago but I’ve been so busy - I haven’t had the time to write, nor to watch many films. Yesterday night, however, I finally began.

I asked my mum which film was her favorite among the DVDs she gave me, and she told me Last Tango in Paris, so I watched that.


First of all, let me say I am not sure I understood why those two characters fuck that much throughout the movie. I admit it was a little strange in the beginning. It was different from the kind of sex-scenes you usually see in movies. It didn’t feel like Paul and Jeanne were really in love: they didn’t kiss much - actually, I don’t think they ever do kiss in the film. And then, Jeanne is clearly cheating on the other guy, the one who wants to be a director. I can’t really say I liked that about her. Also, what was that thing about putting her fingers up Paul’s ass about?


There were some things that confused me about this film, but I actually liked it a lot. It was a very fascinating experience. The music is beautiful. The actors are beautiful. Everything about it was so sensual, so poetic. I’d definitely give it an eight out of ten.


The thing that interested me the most, however, has to do with the house.

So: Jeanne and Paul always and only meet inside the house in front of the bridge. Except for the ending, but I will talk about that later. Anyways, they’re not a normal couple: they don’t go on dates, they don’t have dinner at restaurants, they don’t meet each other’s parents etc. It’s like their relationship is a secret.

Actually, while I was writing I thought: it’s like they each have two separate lives inside and outside of the house. Both Paul and Jeanne change when they are inside. So it’s almost like they are not two characters, but four.

I have been trying to think about what does that mean. It is a strange thing, also because Paul and Jeanne are so different: he is American and old, while she is French and almost a teenager. They should have different interests, different views of the world… and yet, when they meet they seem to be able to communicate very well. They joke a lot and have fun like people who go to school together.

If I think about this, what comes to my mind is that scene where Paul tells that story from when he was a kid, and then says it may also not be true. He tells Jeanne he doesn’t want to know about her past, and specifically she doesn’t want to hear names from her past. Which is absurd, because how are you going to recognize someone - how are you going to deal with someone, how are you going to be with someone - if you don’t know his name? I mean, what if you need to call that person? Names are important. It would be crazy to live without them.

However, it seems that for Paul and Jeanne, not knowing these things helps them become closer. It’s like they are ignoring their differences, and this allows them to see the other as he or she really is. I think politicians should learn to do this too.


Anyways, I didn’t understand the ending. Why does Jeanne kill Paul after Paul tells her he loves her? Also the fact that he chased her in the streets like a maniac was weird. But it is interesting to think about the fact that Jeanne kills Paul in her mother’s house, with her dad’s pistol. If I compare this to what I say above about the other house, it seems to me like there is something important at stake here: inside the rented apartment, Jeanne and Paul are in love, even if they don’t know each other; when instead Paul tells everything about himself to Jeanne, she runs away, and ends up killing the guy inside her parents’ house (which is really the opposite of making love to him). It’s like there are only certain places where Jeanne can accept Paul and feel safe around him. And then there are other places where she feels chased like an animal and has to eliminate him from her life.


I hope no girl will ever shoot me. But then again, Paul chased her.

I don’t know. This film really had an impact on me.


Anyways, I start high school tomorrow. I am so excited! I have many friends who will be in my class, so I don’t really feel nervous. Then, in the weekend, me and Tea (the girl who will do the film with me) have to do rehearsals with an important theatre actor. My mom said that this guy is super good.


Jacopo Olmo




October 10, 2011



Today was the first day of shooting. I felt very emotional.

We were somewhere around the EUR, in a clinic. Before starting to film, Bernardo told me why he wanted to start from here. He said that this clinic is close to a house were Pasolini used to live. I was very surprised. I like Pasolini a lot, and sometimes me and Bernardo talk about him. I have read some of his poems in school last year. And then my mum got me a copy of one of his books, called Scritti Corsari. A strange but fascinating book: I’m not sure I understood everything about it, but it was a very interesting read. Anyways, it’s such a curious thing that Pasolini used to live around that clinic. I wonder what it means that we started here.

I felt happy all day: Tea came to visit and we listened to The Cure together. There are two songs by them I enjoy a lot: one is “Close to Me”, the other is called “Boys Don’t Cry”. These songs make me feel like dancing all day.


Bernardo BertolucciI felt so good that when I came back home in the evening I decided to watch another one of Bernardo’s films. I chose La Luna, because my mom told me that was the first she ever watched. Things got really strange with this film: there’s a lot of stuff I feel like writing but I don’t really know where to start.

First of all, there was Veronica in the film! Veronica is this old woman who is working with me. She plays my grandma in the film. Such a sweet person, but she really is old. She kept forgetting her lines all the time… I think we had to do twenty-five takes to finish the scene. Anyways, I was so surprised when I saw her in La Luna! She looked so much younger, and so fascinating. It was so nice of Bernardo to remember her after all these years; it feels right that they are still working together. I told my mum about it and she said that Bernardo likes to keep the people he likes close. She told I should get prepared, maybe even I will do another film with him after this one.

But you’re right, sorry - I must write about La Luna.


It was such a strange film. I am not sure I liked it. It’s all about this kid who is roughly my age who does heroin, and then he even has an affair with his mum! There were a few scenes which were really disturbing, like when they almost have sex, or when she helps him do drugs.

But apart from this, what interested me the most was the sheer fact of these two American people in Italy. It seems to me like the main thing about this film is to show how disorienting it can be to be in a foreign country. Joe, the young protagonist, spends a lot of time walking around Rome (by the way: how different from now was my city only thirty years ago! No cars parked on the Lungotevere, one could drive through Ponte Sisto…) and interacting with Italian people, and it always seems like they come from different planets. There was that strange scene with the little kid inside the abandoned building. I don’t know… I don’t think I understood this film.


I believe my main question is: is it good to interact with what is foreign? I mean, it’s true that Joe ends up finding his biological dad, but at the same time a lot of the people he meets are dangerous: there’s the Middle-Eastern drug dealer, the girlfriend with whom he does heroin, the pedophile man he meets in the bar… sometimes it felt like the message was “meeting someone who is different from you is dangerous.”

But at the same time, also the opposite is true. And this is when I think about Caterina, Joe’s mum. She wants to go to Italy, because she needs to go back to a place where she was happy. And then we discover that she had her singing teacher in Parma, and that she loves Verdi, and so she wants to stay close to these people, these places, even though they are also close to the ones which gave her so much pain (like the house on the seaside).


I feel very conflicted, diary. I tried to search for articles on La Luna on the internet. Many of them talked about Freud and psychoanalysis, which I understand has to do with the incest thing between Joe and Caterina, and also with them looking for father figures. But I can’t say more: I’m not an expert on psychoanalysis. I know Pasolini knew a lot about it, though. And I think Bernardo does, too. Maybe I should ask him about it. After all La Luna is his film. But I always feel so shy when I am with him: Bernardo is a sweet person, but I also know he is an important one. I want him to think good of me. I want him to trust me.


Tomorrow we’re at the clinic again. I’m so excited. Life on set is nice. Everyone smiles to me, and they all look like they are doing something important and significant. I like it.





October 24, 2011



Last night I watched The Dreamers.

I can’t even begin to explain - I have loved this film so much. I actually cried at the end: I didn’t want to leave Matthew, I didn’t want to leave Isa, I didn’t want to leave Theo. I felt like I really knew them, like they were my friends, and they were leaving me, like when you have to part with a summer friend you spent the summer with but now he’s going back to his city for the winter. Except that in those cases you know you are going to see your friend again next summer. When am I going to see again Isa, Theo and Matthew? Is there a sequel to this film I can watch? Are they going to see each other again in this sequel? I was so terribly sad when Matthew was left alone in the crowd.

I am so grateful I watched The Dreamers.


I am starting to see similar things across Bernardo’s films. Like, for instance, this thing about the foreigners. The Dreamers is similar to Last Tango in Paris, and not because they are both set in the past, but because in both of them there is an American guy living in Paris. However, Paul in Last Tango was much older than Matthew is in The Dreamers. But the concept is similar, right diary? And now that I think about it, it was kind of the same with La Luna too, which was also about American people in Europe. What’s the matter with Americans in Europe for Bernardo? I mean, it can’t be a coincidence. I wonder if also the other films have the same thing.

I keep being interested in the fact that his films seem to draw comparisons between two different worlds. In The Dreamers, Matthew and Theo always argue about things, especially politics. They are friends, they like each other, but sometimes it really looks like they see life differently. Matthew is American, and therefore he is different from the French siblings.

But I think that by the end, Matthew is defeated. He is left alone. It’s like he cannot be anymore with Isa and Theo. Is this the way life is? That when you find the perfect person for you, you have to leave her? Is there anything you can say to keep the person you love close to you? Or maybe, Matthew has to be separated from them because he is too different.

The more I think about it, the more reasonable this second answer is. Matthew is different. He is too ‘normal’. He can stay with Theo and Isa for a while, sure. But I think it’s better he parted with them: they would have destroyed him. I mean, just think about the ending! Matthew was going to be killed by Isa with the gas: the only thing that saved him was the demonstration in the street.


I also think that his difference from Theo and Isa has also to do with how strange the two brothers are. They are really weird. They sleep naked together, they kiss, they do baths together. And they are also weird with their parents. I mean, Matthew isn’t wrong in being disturbed by them: their family is strange.

This whole thing about the two brothers kissing of course made me think about La Luna. It’s kind of similar. But again: what’s the interest in relatives being in love with each other? It’s disturbing, and kind of disgusting. Although I have to say that in The Dreamers I wasn’t really disturbed by them. They looked normal when they did it. And also, the film is done in a way in which it feels natural. It was worse in La Luna. That was really strong.

In one of the scenes in the bathroom, Matthew says something interesting. He says something about film directors being people who spy on their parents while they are in bed together. And he also says that films are crimes, because they show you things you shouldn’t be seeing. I am pretty sure this connects to this thing about incest, because Matthew says it’s a sort of guilty pleasure to see this disgusting things. And it’s true: I have to say it was weird to see it, but then I kept thinking about it. I kept thinking about all the times I imagined these kinds of things. And watching them in a film made me realize I wasn’t the only person on Earth to think about kissing your mother or your sister. It made me feel like everybody knows a secret of mine, but doesn’t talk about it. Which makes me afraid. But at the same it’s also comforting. I can’t stop thinking about this stuff, diary.


Today we began filming in the studio. This place is in Trastevere, very close to Bernardo’s house. They told me it was the studio of an artist, but Jean, the production designer, transformed it into a basement. It looks real! Like the one grandma has in her house.

We’re going to stay here for five weeks. And I am going to be here every day. I think I am going to like it here.

Now that I think about it, this film we are doing is already similar to others I have seen before. Basically all of the film is set in this basement, right? But also Last Tango in Paris and The Dreamers took place all in one place. In those cases it was an apartment, though. Here, we are beneath the house.

I am so looking forward to watch the other films: I want to see how many other similarities I can notice with the ones I have already seen.

I’m leaving now. Tomorrow is a long day.





November 17, 2011



Dear diary, I am in love with Liv Tyler.

I think she must be the most beautiful woman ever made. I mean, seriously. I remember her from Lord of the Rings (diary, I love Lord of the Rings!), but she looks even better in this film by Bernardo called Stealing Beauty. So pretty, so pure, so sexy, so young. I hope she’ll come to visit Bernardo on set like Richard Gere did the other day - I think I would die if I met her.

Actually, maybe not. What if I meet Liv Tyler and I am disappointed? What if she looks better on film than in reality? Who would be my most beautiful woman then?


Anyways, I enjoyed this film a lot. It has a different mood from the others I have seen. Less serious and more joyful. The colors too are bright. It put me in a good mood. It’s not a difficult film to watch - I was never bored. But it’s not like it was silly: so many images were so beautiful, and the story is very good.

I keep noticing the similar things in these movies. This was once again a film in which someone goes to a foreign country, and it was again an American going to Europe. Just like Caterina and Joe do in La Luna, also Lucy comes to Italy. What’s different here is that Lucy doesn’t really come to Italy, because the house where she stays if filled with other English or foreign people. At one point there’s even a scene in which an Italian lady comes to the big villa where Lucy stays and tells her friends that to go there “it’s like going to a different planet”. But in this planet Lucy is more comfortable; it’s not like Matthew in The Dreamers, who has to live all on its own in a very different country from the US.


But I still think that Lucy discovers something in the film. Actually, two things. The first is obviously her real father, which is surprisingly the artist who makes the wooden statues. I was kinda disoriented by that, because he looks so unlike her. I mean - no offense: but she’s way too beautiful to be his daughter. But then again, these things happen all the time, what do you know. Anyways, Lucy is looking for her true dad and she finds him. This made me think of La Luna, because Joe does the same: he looks for his real father, which is not the one he grew up with. And in both cases, we don’t really see this fake dads. Actually, in Lucy’s case we don’t see him at all.

Is this also related to psychoanalysis?

The other thing Lucy discovers is sex. Now hear me out, diary, because I have a theory. Remember I said that Lucy, despite being an American in Italy, does not really feel like a foreigner? That is still true, but if you think about it, in the end she makes love to Osvaldo, the Italian guy. This makes me think: what if the ‘foreign’ in Stealing Beauty is not something that has to do with countries, but something that has to do with sex? It would make sense, and it would also make the film similar to the others.


About Io e Te, the film we are shooting now:

Tomorrow there’s a very important scene. It’s a scene in which me and Tea have to dance, because we stopped fighting and we can finally act like brother and sister. When I read the script, the song to which we danced was a song by David Bowie called “Life on Mars?”. I didn’t know this song when I first read the script, but after that I spent a lot of time listening to it. Now I love it. It’s one of my favorite songs ever. It makes me cry.

But today Bernardo called me to his room and made me listen to another song. I think it’s called something like “Ragazzo solo”. Bernardo told me it’s another David Bowie song. But the words are in Italian! Apparently Mogol, the guy who wrote lyrics for Battisti, wrote these ones for David Bowie. It’s such a strange song. And it’s not even an original one! It’s a cover of “Space Oddity”, again by David Bowie. Bernardo told me that me and Tea will dance to “Ragazzo solo”. I don’t know. I’m sad because I don’t want to leave the studio. It feels like home by now. I have all my habits and my favorite places, and my rhythm for working, and my friends…

I became friends with this girl, C. She works with the set designer. She’s very beautiful, but she’s more or less the age of Tea. She is so good at drawing, and after lunch I sit with her to draw. I really can’t draw anything, but she encouraged me to try. She taught how to draw shades on stuff. C. is very nice. I am happy she became my friend.


One thing came to my mind while writing: the Italian title of Stealing Beauty is “Io ballo da sola,” which means “I dance on my own.” I think it’s because of that scene in which Lucy is angry and dances in her room, alone. But anyways, I just think it’s funny that I watched a film called like this right before shooting a dance scene. I like these kind of coincidences. It means that things have meaning. It makes me feel happy.


Night night,


Jacopo Olmo



November 28, 2011



This week we said goodbye to the studio: we are going to shoot all the remaining parts of the film in other places in Rome.

These days we are doing all the scenes in Lorenzo’s (that’s how my character is called!) house, in a district of Rome called Parioli. This house we’re shooting in is so nice… mom told me all the houses around here are beautiful. And expensive.


I finally met the woman who plays my mom. She’s called S. I don’t mind her, but there is something I don’t understand about her. She looks very elegant, but it is difficult for me to talk to her. Anyways, here’s what happened today.

So: the script for the film ends after I leave the basement of the house. I go back to my house, and also my dad is back. We have dinner together, but I have a huge fight with them. After that, I go to meet Olivia (that’s Tea’s character) at a bar. But at one point she goes to the bathroom and dies there. That is because she lied to Lorenzo: she still had drugs with her, and when she uses them she has an attack and dies. So it’s sad, right? I mean, not so much for my character, but for her.


Today we were shooting with S. Right before lunch break Bernardo calls me and her. We go to a room and he starts talking about the ending of the film. He’s changed it: he cut it! He said it felt too didascalico, and so he wants to end the film when I get out of the basement.

What happened right after was weird. The thing is he wanted to let us know, right? But it’s OK for me - I mean, what does it change? (we’re probably going to have to re-shoot the scene in which I exit the basement, though - and also, Bernardo wants to go back to the basement). But S. was very emotional. I could see she was sad, and disappointed. I think she was about to cry.
I told my mom about it, and she said it’s a natural reaction: “she was going to have more scenes with Bernardo, and now she only has the ones she already did. Every one would feel the same as her.” I’m not sure I understand this. I mean, of course I do - I’m not stupid. But at the same time… what difference does it make? One or two scenes… what’s important is that you do the character well and that the film is good, right? The work of an actor is strange.


Diary, I wanted to talk about this because this issue of the film’s ending made me think of the movie I watched last night, The Sheltering Sky.

When Bernardo was telling us about the cut to the script, he said something about the fact that he liked to do open endings. (that is because with these changes, Io e Te will not say explicitly that Olivia dies - and also, it won’t be that clear that Lorenzo has gotten better). I think The Sheltering Sky has an open ending too. Although I would say it’s a strange ending, first of all.

Kit, the protagonist, has lived in the Sahara desert for a long time, but then she has a nervous breakdown and ends up in the hospital back in Tangiers. She is brought back to her old hotel, but she flees and ends up in the bar in which she spent some time with Port and the other American guy. And there, she meets the strange old man who acts as the narrator. He asks her if she got lost, and she says “yes,” with a smile on her face. Weird. I don’t get it. What do you mean lost? And why is she happy? How does she know the old man? Does ‘open ending’ mean confusing ending?


But if I concentrate and think about it, maybe it does make some sense. Let me try to explain, OK?

I keep thinking about all the other films - all these movies with American people having adventures abroad. Same thing that happens in Sheltering Sky. Kit and Port are in this world (in this case Morocco), that is so different from that which they are used to, and so strange. In this case, however, it’s not like with Stealing Beauty or La Luna, where they find something; in Sheltering Sky it’s a bit more like in The Dreamers, or maybe even Last Tango in Paris. Kit and Port lose something - Port, his life; Kit, her husband and also her mind.

Morocco - and for that matter any place that is not ‘home - is dangerous for them, because it exposes the problems they had even before getting there. Like cheating and jealousy. Port almost gets killed after meeting with a prostitute, and then becomes jealous of Tunner, the other American, so much that Kit actually ends up sleeping with the guy out of spite.

It seems to me like in Sheltering Sky the foreign country reveals what’s inside the characters. Because it’s like Kit and Port would have been fine if only they had stayed in America. They would have been OK if only they had kept hiding their problems.


At the same time, it also feels like this journey that they do - and especially the one Kit embarks upon after the death of Port - is a sort of journey through love and the pain that love can give you. It was really difficult to watch the scenes in which Port was about to die. It was painful to see Kit go through all of that.

It’s strange to see this movie after Stealing Beauty: because it’s like that one is about the beginning of love, and the other is about the end of it. I wonder if Kit is somehow what Lucy could have become fifteen or twenty years after Stealing Beauty. I know it’s impossible because technically Sheltering Sky happens right after World War II, but it’s fascinating to think about it.


This was a very poetic film. I want to watch it again sometime.





December 15, 2011



I watched Little Buddha.

I knew I was going to like this film. How could I not? I am a buddhist, just like my mom. I enjoyed it so much: the story is wonderful, the images are delicious, the music is fantastic. I liked the fact that different places had different colors: like for instance, Seattle is all blue - but like really blue. It’s tinged in blue. Instead, India, Nepal, and Bhutan tend to be more yellow or even orange. These colors really made the film better; they made me understand the story better.

And how beautiful was that monastery in Bhutan! I wish I could go there sometime. It’s not the kind of buddhism I practice, but Tibetan monasteries are so beautiful. With all this red, all these colors… It was really exciting to see it. It’s so different from churches here in the West. I loved it.


Little Buddha is another film about people visiting foreign countries. It’s so funny. I guess Bernardo must love to travel.

What fascinated me in this film was that everyone is at one point a foreigner. At the beginning, it is Lama Norbu, who comes to America to meet Jesse. (btw diary, I loved the scene in which the two meets for the first time. The music makes it feel so important, and there is something I can’t really express but that moved me so much about it - it’s really like they are meeting outside of space and time; it’s their first meeting, but it also feels like they have already met a million times. For some reason I really loved that scene). Then, it is Jesse (and his dad) who becomes the foreigner when he goes to Nepal and Bhutan. This means that what happens in Last Tango, Sheltering Sky or Stealing Beauty, happens twice here. Once for Lama Norbu, and once for Jesse.

It’s also very much different from most of the other films. In Little Buddha, traveling is not dangerous. Nobody gets injured or dies. Nobody has to deal with issues and problems - everything is wonderful, each character makes a lot of discoveries, and the ending is positive. Lama Norbu finds his old teacher Lama Dorje (Lama Thunderbolt! I love this name) - actually he finds three different Lama Dorjes! Jesse instead finds out he used to be an important buddhist monk in his previous life. So it’s all good.

However, I should mention that there is someone who goes through some trouble. And I mean of course Jesse’s dad. He decides to go to Asia with Jesse because his friend and business partner committed suicide. But even for him, the trip to Bhutan is a good thing. It’s evident that by the end, after Lama Norbu has died and starts speaking to Jesse, he has learned about buddhism and managed to accept the death of his friend. It’s a good ending for him too.


A big part of this film is about the story of the Buddha, Siddharta. I love that someone made a film about the story of the Buddha. I remember when my mom used to tell me his story, and I always imagined if someone made a cartoon about it. But nobody did - or if they did, I never found it. So I am really happy there is this film. This way I can watch it every time I feel like I want to watch the story of Shakyamuni.

I am thinking a lot about how the story of the Buddha and that of Jesse’s dad are similar in this film. They both leave their home when they are overcome by pain. And by the end of the story, they both have solved the problem (although Jesse’s dad does not of course become a Buddha!). They both find a solution to suffering.

I think this is really nice, because it shows how the Buddha is not a supernatural being, but only a man - a man like any other who manages to learn how to live well. So it means that we can all be like a Buddha. I mean, I certainly want to be one.


But maybe the one thing I enjoyed the most is how this film shows the importance of the relationship between mentor and disciple. I think that what Lama Norbu does is so beautiful. He knows he is a bout to die, but he is determined to accomplish his mission and find his old teacher. And he does it because he is grateful to him. Lama Dorje probably made him become a great monk, and so Lama Norbu has to make sure Lama Dorje is found again, so that he can be taught buddhism again. It’s so beautiful. If only everyone was this grateful to the people who were important to them… I want to be as grateful to Bernardo as Lama Norbu was to Lama Dorje. I hope one day, when I am old, I will find the reincarnation of Bernardo. Then, I’ll have someone teach that boy (or girl) how to make films, so that he can make many more.

What kind of people are we if we’re not grateful to those who taught us the important things of life?


Just like Bernardo wanted, we’ve come back to the studio in Trastevere. We’ll be finished with the film by this coming Saturday, in just three days.

Today was an important day. During lunch break, journalists came to the set for a press conference. It was me, Bernardo, and Tea. But only Bernardo talked. We’re about to finish shooting, and the journalists wanted to know things about the film. To be honest, Bernardo didn’t tell them much, which I think was good. Anyways, what I wanted to say was that after a while, Bernardo took off his hat and put it on my head. I was embarrassed at the beginning - I didn’t know what was happening. But I kept the hat. Eventually it made me laugh. My mom took a picture of me with the hat. It looks funny, but I like it.

I think Bernardo has been very kind. It felt like a sweet thing to do. Now that I think about it, it’s a bit like in Little Buddha when Lama Norbu asks Jesse to pick one of the four hats in the room, and he chooses the one that was Lama Dorje’s and puts it on. Maybe Bernardo’s hat is as important as that of Lama Dorje.

I know it’s a silly thought, but I like it.


Bye bye,


Jacopo Olmo




December 18, 2011



Boys don’t cry.




March 16, 2012



Dear Diary, I just had a crazy thought I want to share with you.

I’ve watched the last of the DVDs my mom gave me: Before the Revolution. Strange film - so different from the other films Bernardo has made. But at the same time, so similar! There is once again incest (in this case the protagonist has a relationship with his aunt… quite gross to be honest with you) and there is a lot of politics involved, like Novecento or The Dreamers.


But here’s my weird interpretation: I think Before the Revolution is also similar to those other films in which people travel to foreign countries. I know it seems like it doesn’t make sense - Fabrizio, the protagonist, stays in his home town Parma all the time during the film, but I can’t stop thinking about things that make his story similar to that of Jeanne and Paul in Last Tango, Lucy in Stealing Beauty, or Port and Kit in Sheltering Sky.

So - the main problem in Before the Revolution is that Fabrizio wants to be a communist but can’t, because he’s too much of a bourgeois, right? And Clelia is kind of a symbol for that, because she’s the classical pretty bourgeois girl, maybe even a ‘trophy wife’: she never speaks in the film, and every one else only speaks of her as the beautiful, good girl. Then, there is Gina, with whom Fabrizio has a scandalous, unacceptable relationship not only because she is his aunt, but also because she is mentally ill. And there is also Cesare, the communist teacher with whom Fabrizio also has a sort of relationship, although only intellectual.


My idea is the following: throughout the film, Fabrizio (the average bourgeoise young man) explores a world that is radically different from the one he grew up in. This world he visits is made of all the things the bourgeoise society has banned: the critical, ugly, difficult things. Everything in this world is scandalous. And this world - that of Gina, Agostino, Cesare, of the little girl who sings right outside of his house… - is kind of like a foreign world. It’s a foreign country. And by visiting this foreign country, Fabrizio is faced with all the contradictions and the problems he always had but wasn’t allowed to see inside his bourgeoise world. Which, I think, is the same thing that happens to Kit and Port in Sheltering Sky. In this foreign country, Fabrizio is also looking for a new identity, a new way to look at himself - he looks for more ‘meaning’ in his life. Which is sort of what Caterina and Joe do in La Luna. The foreign country is disturbing - it’s attractive but also strange, dangerous, sometimes even disgusting: and this is similar to the France that Matthew experiences in The Dreamers. It is a place where Fabrizio gets to experience or even discover sexuality, and this is true probably for all the other films - although in Stealing Beauty (which is a ‘happy’ film) the results of this discovery are positive. The foreign country is also a country in which Fabrizio doesn’t really understand how its people think - there’s this beautiful scene at the end with Cesare, in which it is clear that Fabrizio thinks differently from the communist working class he wants to be part of. And I am tempted to argue that this is similar to what happens to Pu Yi as soon as walks out of the forbidden city: he is in a foreign country in which he is radically different. And then, at the end, Fabrizio realizes he cannot be part of this foreign country, that he comes from another world to which he has to come back, no matter what. Which - I finally understand it! - what happens to Jeanne at the end of Last Tango: this is why she kills Paul - because she realizes that she is essentially a bourgeois girl, and someone as foreign as Paul (someone so not bourgeois like him) cannot have a place in the life of a bourgeois girl.

I know it’s a lot of concepts organized in a messy way, dear diary. So I will try to generalize: today I think I understood that Bernardo’s film have generally to do with people who make contact with the Other. And I mean ‘Other’ as the foreign - that which is radically different from us. What I like about this generalization is that it implies that every interaction with the Other is different: sometimes it has tragic consequences, sometimes beautiful, other times is’s something somewhere around the middle between the two extremes.

It’ like life. Sometimes meeting someone new is awful, sometimes terrible; most of the times, it’s a mixture of both.


Anyways. I also wanted to write that something very important happened to me today.

I was walking out of school earlier, it was a beautiful day of spring. The sun was shining bright between big clouds that looked like cotton balls, white as the whitest sugar you could imagine.

A thought occurred to me. I asked myself: what is it that I want to do with my life? Do I want to be an actor? Do I want to keep making films? The answer came to me so naturally, like it’s been there for years - like when a professors asks you something you have really been studying for the past two weeks. You just know the answer, you don’t even need to think about it. That’s how I felt. I answered myself: yes. Yes, I want to keep making films. Yes. I need to make films in my life.

I just can’t see myself doing anything else. Not anymore, at least.


Jacopo Olmo




May 24, 2012

Cannes, France


Dear Diary, today we presented Io e Te at the Cannes Film Festival.

I have to admit I have cheated a little this time. I had already watched the film a few days ago, a couple of days before leaving for France, inside a little room inside the production company’s offices. But I wanted to tell you about only after the screening at Cannes. It’s just that it is more glamorous this way, you know?


At the end of the film, everyone stood up for a round of applause. It seemed to me as if it lasted for a million years. They just kept clapping, clapping… their hands must have hurt a lot.

I could see that Bernardo was happy. Happy as I’ve never seen him. He was even happier than when we started shooting last year. I am happy too, for him and for myself.

Cannes smells nice. It feels electric. I wish I could stay forever here.


But I’ll get to the point, I know you want to hear about the film.

I’m not sure I am really allowed to say much about it - after all it’s a film in which I appear all the time… I mean, isn’t it a bit narcissistic if I say I like it?

But of course I like it. It’s a very sweet film. Really moving. And I say this despite the fact I am in it all the time. I remember the first time I saw some scenes, roughly edited, at Bernardo’s place back in December. I got so scared - I was horrified by me, my ugly face, my disgusting pimples. This time was a little better, I could actually concentrate on the film.

I don’t want to say too much (dear diary, you’ll have to go and support it by buying the ticket for a theatre screening!), but I think also this film is similar to other Bernardo’s film. I couldn’t see this back when I first read the script, but now I can. I’ll just say this: the basement in which Lorenzo goes to hide is that Bertolucci ‘foreign country’, and Olivia is the Other. As for how his interaction with it goes… I’ll say that there is a lot for him to gain from it.


When I came back to my hotel, after the screening, I found someone who was waiting for me. It was a short man, dressed in a tuxedo. He was very kind: he introduced himself - said his name was David Cronenberg - and told me he loved the film and my performance.

I was so touched by this. It was so kind of him to wait for me, to look for me. I really appreciate it. Later, my mom told me Mr. Cronenberg is an important director.

I want to go and watch a few of his films. I’ll go buy some DVDs when I come back to Rome.


I guess this is the last time I’m writing here, at least until the next film by Bernardo comes out!

Here’s a secret: I hope to be in that one, too. Maybe…

I really have to say: it was a pleasure writing to you! Farewell, dear diary.


Jacopo Olmo




November 26, 2018

Kilkenny, Ireland


I guess I am writing something because I don’t know how to express what I need to express.

This morning I got woken up by one of the worst calls I have ever received in my life. Still half asleep, I picked up the phone and listened to my mom on the other end of the line, crying, telling me you had just died.


It all feels so unfair. I’m here, thousands of kilometers away from you, so helplessly distant. Not that there was anything I could do, of course, but maybe if I had been a little closer, a little less away… but then again, when has death ever felt fair?

I don’t even know how I am feeling - I guess it must be the shock. I keep crying, but my tears are strange, even weird. They are sort of automatic, as if they have been stored inside me a long time, just waiting for a precise moment to show up. They don’t match the sensations I am experiencing inside, at least not exactly.

Of course, I saw all of this coming. I’ve stopped being naïve a long time ago, and I knew this moment was just waiting to come some time or another. To be honest, I’ve pictured it in my mind so many times – half-scared, half-moved by the prospect. I knew I was going to say farewell to you, after all you were so many years older than me. But of course, the way you picture these things in your mind is always so different from what they actually end up being.

What should I say? I guess, first of all, all the obvious things. You have been a mentor, a teacher, and most of all a second father to me. It is simply a fact that without your intervention, my life would have been so different. How different is perhaps the most interesting thing. I didn’t even like cinema before meeting you - I didn’t care about it. But you managed to implant in me your very own wonderful obsession. You revealed to me my personal mission, my own destiny. Does anybody even realize how tremendous that is?

That one time I told you – that day I came visit you and suddenly started telling you how grateful I were for what you had given me – you made me stop. You told me you didn’t want to start crying. There it is –- I think I get it: I must be crying those tears, too.

You’ve donated me some of the happiest days I had in my life. You’ve donated me ten weeks on a film set which will be forever unequalled. You’ve given me eternal happiness, because whatever happened and will happen later can never outshine those days. I will always be able to go back to that basement, and smell the perfume of art in the making, hear the heavenly echo of you screaming “action!” or shouting “cut!” No one will ever be capable of depriving me of that reign of glory - nothing will ever destroy the ever-going idyll in my mind.

You have been so good to me. I hope I have been equally good to you, too. Your love for me must not ever go unrequited.


I keep having flashes from Little Buddha. I keep asking myself - Lama Norbu: was that you? Did you identify with him? Who did you identify with?

There’s this beautiful picture of you, from the days of Accattone. You and Pasolini are seated on the ground, somewhere in the country side. You’re wearing a jacket and he’s elegant: shirt and tie. You both look so young, so electric. You’re sitting down, watching in two opposite directions. Mentor and disciple.

Well, I wonder: was Lama Norbu’s quest your own quest? Were you looking for your late teacher, hoping to keep the connection with him through the ripples of time?

I remember the first time I told you about my interest for Pasolini. I was just a silly boy, not even fourteen. I can never forget how your eyes lighted up, how excited you looked. Later, while we were shooting the film, you got me a book: “Pier Paolo Pasolini explained to teenagers”. I devoured that book, but I can’t remember anything of it. Later, through the traumatic, exciting, passionate years of my adolescence, I came to respect and venerate this old teacher of yours. I began to understand him. One of the last times we met, I told you I was reading Empirismo eretico. Your eyes turned on their light the same way they did years before. You started talking about the “cinema of poetry” Pasolini had theorized - and you remembered anything so perfectly, so lovingly… you remembered it better than me, who had just read the essay a couple of days before.

Sometimes I can’t help but think that maybe Pasolini meant for you something similar to what you have meant to me. Who knows, maybe even more. But, BB, I must tell you - it is difficult to outmatch my devotion to you.

I don’t know if you were as lucky as Lama Norbu, I can’t say if you’ve found your mentor reincarnated somewhere around the world. I hope you did. If you haven’t, I hope you’ll meet him again somewhere else, in another time, in another world, in another life. No, actually - I know you will, for the rest of eternity. Mentor and disciple forever united through past, present, and future.


But what if Lama Norbu has to be me? What if it’s me who will have to find you again? What if it’s me who has to pay back his debt of gratitude? What if you were my Lama Dorje, my Lama Thunderbolt all along?

I am honestly afraid to ask myself this question. Or rather, I am afraid of the answer I want to give myself. Because if that answer is really ‘yes’… then how will I be able to do it? Will I ever be capable of that? How can I be worthy of such a task? How can I live up to such a legacy? If I think about this, I get the strangest of feelings, like I am both pulled to the ground by a brass chain and about to take off with a huge pair of wings. I feel stuck somewhere between the clouds and the depths of the earth.


Your death has awoken something inside me. It has solicited reflections, memories, images. But it’s also finally lit a flame inside me.

Dear Bernardo, I have made you a promise. I’ve made a vow. I intend to keep it. Please keep your sincere, kind eyes on me - watch the unfolding of this promise. I promise you will enjoy me fulfill it. Please whisper in my ears when I will be most lost - help me find the way through the dark. Or light up the silver screen when the theatre lights have gone off, if you prefer. But most of all, please wait for me.


Until our next meeting,



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