From deserted beaches to promontories overlooking the sea, from the wild Supramonte to the abandoned mining villages of Sulcis, from ancient forests to towns where time has stood still: Sardinia has always been an inspiration to writers and directors looking for scenery. Among the latest successes, there are several TV series, a very popular genre nowadays: ‘L'isola di Pietro’ (Peter’s Island), interpreted by Gianni Morandi and set on the island of San Pietro and in its village, Carloforte, and ‘Catch-22’, starring George Clooney, with its main location in the area around Olbia. The first films were recorded here in black and white, between the two world wars. The first successful film was “Forbidden” (1954) by Mario Monicelli, based on “La Madre” by Grazia Deledda, filmed between Codrongianos, Ittiri and Tissi. Ten years later, the scene of Isaac's sacrifice, part of “The Bible” (1966) by John Huston used Mount Corrasi in Oliena as a backdrop. A whole series was based on the wildest Barbagia: from “Bandits of Orgosolo” (1958) to “Father and Master” (1977) by the Taviani brothers. The theme was revisited in “Disamistade” (1988) by Gianfranco Cabiddu, set between Nuoro and Ghilarza.
Michelangelo Antonioni chose a dreamlike (and solitary) setting for his “Red Desert" (1964): the pink beach at Budelli, an island in the Maddalena archipelagus. Ten years later, "Swept away", the masterpiece by Lina Wertmuller played by "shipwrecked" couple Mariangela Melato and Giancarlo Giannini, was set at Cala Luna, Cala Fuili and Capo Comino. Sergio Corbucci also transformed Cala Luna (between Baunei and Dorgali) into a desert island: Paolo Villaggio starred as "Mr Robinson" (1966). In 2002 the Golfo di Orosei was once again the protagonist in the remake of "Swept away", directed by Ritchie, starring Madonna and Adriano Giannini, Giancarlo's son. Disney recently chose the northern coast of Sardinia, between the Gulf of Asinara and Golfo Aranci, to film ‘The Little Mermaid’. The set for one of the most iconic scenes, in which Ariel emerges from the water, is the Rena Majori beach at Aglientu, while Eric’s castle is the spectacular Castle of the Doria family in Castelsardo.
Enchantment, luxury and adventure against the backdrop of Porto Cervo and the Costa Smeralda in “The Spy Who Loved Me” (1977), the tenth film in the Bond series, played by Roger Moore and directed by Lewis Gilbert. Cala di Volpe, Cala Pitrizza, Capriccioli, San Pantaleo and Palau, on the north-eastern coast, and Capo Caccia to the north-west, were the setting for James Bond's action scenes and breath-taking escapes. The Park of Porto Conte and the marine area of Capo Caccia had already played a leading role in 1968 in “Boom!”, directed by Joseph Losey, with romantic and dramatic scenes set between Alghero and the coast of Argentiera. From the north to the far south, from historic movies to the 21st century, coastal paradises continue to star: Leonardo Pieraccioni chose Santa Margherita di Pula for his 2011 film ‘Finalmente la felicità’ (Finally happiness); while the dramatic ‘What We Wanted’, chosen by Austria to compete at the 2021 Oscars, was filmed around Capo Boi, at Villasimius.
The Costa Verde, in particular the dunes of Piscinas and the ghost-villages of Ingurtosu and Montevecchio are in the foreground of "Black Stallion" (1979), written in collaboration with Francis Ford Coppola. Moving further up the western coast, we find the village of San Salvatore, in the Cabras area, transformed into a far west location in Arizona or New Mexico for a highly successful genre, the “Spaghetti Western”, in “Garter Colt" (1967). The Sinis peninsula has also been recently chosen by Italian artists: in 2007 for "Sympathy for the Lobster" by Sabina Guzzanti, filmed at su Pallosu, a coastal village in San Vero Milis, and in 2011 for "A Small Southern Enterprise", directed and starring Rocco Papaleo. The backdrop was Capo San Marco, near the ruins of the ancient city of Tharros, the beach of San Giovanni del Sinis and Cabras.
Many Sardinian directors tell stories of the authentic life of the Sardinian communities, fascinating even in their stability, especially those of the ‘deepest’ territories in the centre of Sardinia, from the Oristano area to that of Barbagia, as far as Logudoro: for example, “Ballo a tre passi” (2003) and “Sonetaula” (2008) by Salvatore Mereu, the entertaining “The Referee” (2013) by Paolo Zucca, starring Stefano Accorsi, and a film that slips inside the island's thousand-year culture, “L’Accabbadora” (2015) by Enrico Pau. Film director Paolo Zucca then brought a ‘dreamy’, fairy-tale island to the set in the surprising ‘L'uomo che comprò la luna’ (The man who bought the moon) in 2018. The success of Cabiddu, following Disamistade, was repeated with “The son of Bakunin” (1997), based on the novel by Sergio Atzeni, and the multi-award winning “The Stuff of Dreams”, set on the island of Asinara, where four members of the Camorra, two security guards accompanying them and four members of a theatre company land following a storm. The ex-"Sardinian Alcatraz" was also recently used as the location for “Era d’estate” (2016), the story of the transfer of judges Borsellino and Falcone to the island.