THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E. AND ROME
While holding in respect to the spy-movies and the TV aura of the 1960s, ‘The Man from U.N.C.L.E’ of modern-style whirls away its audience into eye-popping vertigo travel along Europe, Germany, and Italy of the Cold War era as the cherries on top. Alternatively to the iconic adventures of the 007 agent and Jason Bourne, a new-old story of U.N.C.L.E. both takes the characters to visit the picturesque corners of Europe and, what is more important, recreates the architecture and a fingerprint spirit of the days, spaced away from us for more than half a century. All while the historically preserved estate of the Kent dockyards in the UK cinematically coupled with SGI panorama was used to perform as the Eastern Berlin, an ancient city of Rome has granted the filmmakers a uniquely ample scope of creative freedom to take advantage of the authentic locations.
The ‘Italian’ section of the movie covers the greater part of the story with apportioning our attention between a number of filming locations in Rome and Naples. Rome opens the Italian sequence of the movie and finalizes the story an hour later. The film crew with Guy Ritchie as a director and a supreme creative force managed a visit to Rome back in September-October 2013 at the heat of the tourist season. With an inspired eye to piece together the desired aura of the 1960s and to preserve the historical image of Rome, appreciated on a distance from the touristic crowds, the filmmakers weaponized some professional twists and turns. Two-of-five filming locations were set into motion at bedtime, including the famous Spanish Steps. The grand mind-blowing PIAZZA VENEZIA was put in an appearance for only a few seconds in the opening Italian sequence and with a limited perspective of the private terrace. All five key U.N.C.L.E. movie locations in Rome are located within the heart of the city at a walking distance from each other.
ARRIVING AT ROME: PIAZZA VENEZIA
Subsequent to a comedy scene in a luxurious dress boutique in Western Berlin, our trio of characters sett off to Rome for a semi-voluntary consolidated mission. The camera sky-rockets above the PIAZZA VENEZIA square, a symbol of Rome, which majestingly consummates the architectural axis with the Colosseum and the Roman Forum as the first two landmarks. Located at the foot of the Capitol hill, this open ground has been serving as a transport arteria since antiquity and at that times used to conjoin Rome with cities of the ancient Apennine Peninsula. In our generation up to eight streets tied together at this very square in the heart of Rome, by-passing the historical part of the ancient city.
The sequence comes to light with a panoramic view over the city district to the West of PIAZZA VENEZIA with rare automobiles at VIA DEL TEATRO DI MARCELLO, a modern transport point once inaugurated by Benito Mussolini back in 1939 at the expense of ancient architecture. The street was named after another historical and rare-t0-be-mentioned city icon called THEATER OF MARCELLUS, another U.N.C.L.E. filming locations (Illya and Gaby meet bandits). The perspective moves to VITTORIANO (A Monument of Victor Emmanuel II), a colossus of a white marble, which had been put in construction for fifty years with a grand opening at the times of the grandson of the honored king of Italy. A few shots of Napoleon Solo in a car and another panorama of the square, soaked with a soft sun of an orange hue. While the scene leaves the major part of the viewers with a sense of a sunset, it was in fact put into action at daybreak (apr. 5.30 Autumn time), as the sun always makes an appearance on the east towards the PIAZZA VENEZIA from the sidelines of the Roman Forum and Coliseum.
GRAND HOTEL PLAZA
As an epilogue for the first car ride along the streets of Rome, our trio finally gets to a place of a luxurious hotel to plan and perform the spying raids into the enemy’s camp of Vinciguerra family in Italy. This roman residence is to be found within VIA DEL CORSO street, once named after the horse shows, had been carried out centuries prior to the hotel. This very transport arteria was in common use as far back as the times of Roman Empire and it was generally thought to be wide enough for the carriages, moving along the ancient road, which used to interjoin Rome with the Adriatic coast to the North. Southward, the modern VIA DEL CORSO runs up to PIAZZA VENEZIA, a square which has already formed our first impression about Rome in the very beginning of the Italian sequence. Nowadays, the street that once used to be recognized as VIA LATA (narrow street) stretch to breaking point with only two lanes and makes a little effort to come across as the key arterial road of the city center of Rome.
From the first steps into the GRAND HOTEL PLAZA, our principal characters take notice of some suspicious personalities within a lobby in the same comic manner as the upcoming scenes reveal the any-place shadowing and spying of both American and Soviet agents. The movie makes yourself at home with grandiose interiors of the hotel, which accentuate pretentiousness and bizarrerie of the Italian style anywhere from the foyer to the spacious apartments. The place is proven to be a gift that keeps on giving for a story, which makes a play of the retro style to the best of ability. GRAND HOTEL PLAZA with its sesquicentennial history of taking in guests, performs never-ceasing efforts on the interior design with tactful preservation of the original design. The greater part of its history (including the year of 1963) the hotel used to be recognized as ‘Albergo Roma’ (Roman Hotel). Over the decades prior to the visit of Guy Ritchie’s filming crew, the GRAND HOTEL PLAZA has been appreciated by the cinematographers of Italy and Hollywood.
A few comic scenes inside PLAZA and minor, yet still exciting details with Illya and Gaby in the room №707, are followed with another sequence in front of the hotel. The movie magic along with the efforts of the filmmakers, when it comes to costumes and props imbues us with an incredibly deep feeling of the 1960s. Illya is waiting for Gaby with one’s back to the ‘Basilica S. Carlo Al Corso’, initially named after two saints, consequently canonized in stone back in XVII century. The background of the scene with a KGB agent also includes a press stand of authentic design with RIVISTE (magazines) and GIORNALI (newspapers) inscriptions. The better half of the movie gives us a few more occasions to revisit the GRAND HOTEL PLAZA in the interims between the adventurous improvisations.
THE SPANISH STEPS
We follow Gaby and Illya, who make their unhurried rhythmic walking stepping down another symbol of Rome, the SPANISH STEPS. The natural aspiration to keep the sophisticated exchange of civilities and to stick with the legend on architectural education necessitates the best of the Soviet agents to maintain laughably versions of the history of this iconic landmark. In Illya’s interpretation, the Spanish Steps were created by Russian sculptor Sergei Ivanov for his mother Yagoda. Gabby decently lends one’s ear to a story of her step-fiance while taking a sip from ‘Fontana Della Barcaccia’ fountain. This masterpiece of the XVII century was created by a father of the famous Lorenzo Bernini. Legend has it that the creator was inspired with a boat, had been washed up to the very square from the water of Tiber. This historical improvisation is being interrupted with the unexpected presence of Napoleon Solo not so much to previse a little acquaintance with bandits, rather to prick Illya’s self-esteem with a pin. The scene was surely taken into action at nighttime inasmuch as the square is generally crowded with thousands of tourists in the evening, leaving no chance to piece together the retro stylistic.
Subsequent to a prickly exchange of words with Solo, Illya was challenging a bitter perspective of the upcoming task, which surely placed in question his present ability to take advantage from walking the streets of Rome and praising the architectural heritage of the great city. He is frustrated rather with a necessity to act as a lame duck than a perspective to deal with a bunch of bandits. The next location plays head games with a greater deal of the audience, who generally see the Colosseum within this night frame. In the face of the pure and simple similarity, ‘The Man from U.N.C.L.E.’ movie takes us to visit another relict landmark of Rome, praised as TEATRO DI MARCELLO. This ancient theater with three layers and space for 15 000 people was created a century prior to its better-known architectural heritor. The medieval era witnessed completing a theater with new buildings, preserved until now as a residential estate.
A cozy passage, which leads a few steps from the ancient theater and interjoins two bigger streets, is known as VIA DEL FORO PISCARIO. Back in 1948, it was named after a city district, which used to accommodate a fish market for four centuries. Our characters walk past the ruins of ‘TEMPIO DI APOLLO SOSIANO’ (Temple of Apollo Sosianus) and have to face the minions of the Vinciguerra family. Subsequent to a brief confrontation and a forthcoming of Solo, enraged and furious Illya declares, that a Russian architecture would not stand with the humiliation as well as a loss of father’s watch. In his worldview, the legend on the equable fiance, who is walked over, does not correspond the spirit of the forged Soviet citizen.
ON THE BALCONY OVER PIAZZA VENEZIA
Only a few hours after the breathtaking adventurers of saving the world from nuclear war cloud and soon after anticlimax between two best agents while chasing the main trophy, our leads can now have a meltdown on the balcony over Rome. Taking a closer look at the U.N.C.L.E. filming locations, we have come to a full circle to return to PIAZZA VENEZIA square in the very heart of an ancient city. The famous Trajan’s Column falls under the spotlight of Napoleon and Illya. A marble colossus 38 meter-high was once raised over the ancient forum of the same name to honor the victory of the Emperor over the Frakian tribes. The Column was initially headed with the statue of Trajan to be replaced fourteen centuries later with a figure of Paul the Apostle, preserved both to 1963 and to this day.
The movie magic plays center stage in an attempt to bring us to a conclusion the main characters drink their alcohol within a terrace of the GRAND HOTEL PLAZA, who title is needled on the green cloth of the sun-awning. In point of fact, we should recall the first scene in Rome and the rapid camera flight, which has demonstrated the logistic gap between the square and a hotel. The cinematic curvature of the city space yet by no means spoil our sincere admiration on the panorama, which is shown to win our fascination and praise. The foreground also incorporates the dom of the ‘Chiesa di Santa Maria di Loreto’, a church with an 80-year history of building-up.