Scene V: Justice at Bithynia
>> Italian version available here
Scene V: JUSTICE AT BITHYNIA
The scene in the poem: Following a month of travel from Parthia by horse and carriage, Mother Anh and her guard arrive near Nicomedia in the Kingdom of Bithynia. Unbeknownst to Mother Anh, her guard has arranged to sell her to another slave master through an arrangement with a local agent. When the agent makes the payment of one gold coin to the guard, Mother Anh withdraws a concealed dagger and stabs the guard 13 times. The agent dashes off with the horse and leaves Mother Anh for the night in the carriage near the seashore.
The image: At dusk in a Bithynian forest near the sea, Mother Anh stands confidently over the fallen guard with a look of solemn satisfaction as she holds her bloodied dagger. The carriage sits empty in the background, and the surrounding forest seems empty as well; for the first time ever, Mother Anh is alone and, for the moment, free. She has, literally, taken matters into her own hands as she battles for freedom, dignity and self-determination. Did she go too far? What would come of her actions?
The making of the photograph: Shot in the Emilia-Romagna Region of Northern Italy, we found the forested area next to a village that also, luckily, had the perfect carriage available for our use. Ignazio set up lighting to simulate the dusk effect in the photo, even while the shot was taken in mid afternoon sun. Producer Johnny Petrucci is the model portraying the agent lying dead on the road!
Johnny: “I was very intrigued by the Venus Anh production from the very beginning. It was a two-month photo shoot with the organizational problems of a short film. Every one of the 55 pictures had to describe a scene in the poem and we had several meetings with Michael where we organized in detail the models, props and locations.
“Since we didn’t have time to do a location scouting in Tassara those shots had to be organized day by day and I have beautiful memories of the creative/organizational chats that I had with Michael every evening while tasting various wines of the area. One evening we were talking about how to create the scene of Master Elpidius escorting mother Anh and we agreed that showing her in chains walking along a road was not ideal, so Michael had the great idea of a wooden carriage but we had only one day to find it. I started calling the cinema props depots in Rome and Milan but there wasn’t enough time to have a carriage shipped to Tassara. I started asking every person we knew in the area and the owner of the castle gave me the number of the local undertaker, hoping that he could help me. It was a great suggestion. The man and his son were really helpful and they had the perfect carriage in their depot. We were so lucky! The only issue was: when I went to check the carriage it was 10 o’clock and I was offered a huge glass of home made grappa which I could not say no to! The perfect carriage and just next to the depot the perfect little path in the woods that became the magical setting for Scenes V, VI and VII.
"We were supposed to use the carriage only one day but since it was so beautiful we used it even in the scene that described the killing of the guard. We had only one problem: the model that was acting as the guard had to be in Rome early that morning and that is why I had to dress up and lie down dead in the middle of the road! It took more than an hour and a half to get the right expressions and the right light and I still remember how uncomfortable it was to lay on the little pointy stones under my arm and how cold my naked legs and feet were but it was worth it .... Michael got a great picture!”