Why Italians Love Barney
Interest for the film adaptation of Barney’s Version is high in Rome, where shooting began earlier this week. The book by one of Canada’s foremost authors, Mordecai Richler, not only won him the 1997 Giller Prize but also gave the Montreal-born novelist rock star status in Italy, where it was a runaway bestseller.
Canadian producer Robert Lantos, knew the iconic author and has worked for many years to turn the book into a movie and his decision to start filming in Rome was probably no accident.
"The book is so celebrated in Italy and has so many champions that it has become an integral part of Italian popular culture," Lantos told CBC.
The Italian newspaper Il Foglio helped spark the popularity of Richler’s novel. Besides publishing multiple reviews and articles on the book, editors run a daily column called Barney’s Version: a commentary on Italian politics written in the voice of Richler’s outspoken protagonist.
Il Foglio journalist Christian Rocca explained to CBC why the character Barney struck a chord with Italians.
“We didn’t just love the book. We adopted it like a son, or maybe like a father. We love outspoken people. We love, how do you call them, curmudgeons? Finally, we have a character who was able and was willing to say whatever he wants, whatever he thinks. Beyond being a wonderful love story, Barney’s Version is “a manifesto of political incorrectness. We Italians are deeply politically incorrect people so we love the book — I think — for this reason.”
After Rome, filming of the $28 million project starring Paul Giamatti, will continue in Montreal and New York and is set for release sometime in 2010.