Three men and a leg changed our lives forever

Three men and a leg changed our lives forever

Three men and a leg turns 25 , a truly important anniversary because it concerns one of the most iconic films of all time in our history, and for the impact it has had, for what it has meant for Italian cinema, it is not so exaggerated define it unique and inimitable.

If this assessment seems exaggerated or untrue to you, perhaps you need to look with different eyes at what Aldo Giovanni and Giacomo gave us on that Christmas of 1997 and above all how much that film has impacted our society. Perhaps the truth is that Three Men and a Leg has become something more than a cult hit, it has changed our lives in a way that no one could have foreseen, illuminating a new path for the Italian concept of laughter.

A masterpiece that no one expected

Aldo Giovanni and Giacomo were formed in 1991, collaborating with Marina Massironi, in a sort of strange and atypical crossroads between dissimilar yet overlapping artistic paths. The theater and above all television had made them known, had launched them with characters who are still incredibly alive in the collective memory today. Su la Testa!, the Holiday Tg, Cielito Lindo were the appetizer to the resounding success they experienced with the iconic Mai Dire Gol! of Gialappa's Band, a real cradle for some of the most important comedians of the last thirty years.

But none like these two Lombards and a Palermitan who, between 1994 and 1997, built up a loyal, broad and transversal audience. Remembering the success of Three Men and a Leg also means remembering that success moved from the small to the big screen in an absolutely unpredictable way for the time.

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The film was clearly inspired by Three men in a boat (not to mention the dog) one of the most legendary comic stories in history, signed in 1889 by Jerome K. Jerome . The screenplay, edited by the Trio together with the director Massimo Venier and Giorgio Gherarducci, made up for an absolutely negligible budget (only 2 billion lire) with a perfect balance between the characters, the narrative process and above all making use of a comedy as effective as far from being superficial and momentary laughter, but a means to express a vision, ideas.

Because the secret of this film still today is how much it was able to go beyond the concept of Italian comedy, how incredibly profound it was, very often even melancholy, inserted in our tradition and at the same time distant from it .

Three men and a leg was a tribute to cinema as such, to comedy as a way of interpreting real life and not a deformation of it, but above all it had the extraordinary merit of showing that there was another possibility of making people laugh, going beyond the then absolutely dominant prototype of the cinepanettoni. Because  let's talk clearly, Three men and a leg after 25 years, looking at it, appears to be almost a generational, sociological, cultural treatise. This by virtue of themes, characters and in general a semantics that did not distance itself from everyday life but on the contrary used it as an extraordinary resource.

Because everyone, regardless of the age we were when we first watched the Trio at the cinema, felt like Aldo Giovanni and Giacomo at least once in our life.

A comedy different from all the others

And here we are, therefore, remembering the Odyssey of those three very unlucky, messy friends, losers born harassed by a dictatorial, vulgar father-in-law, a perfect example of the average Italian industrialist. Three men and a leg was a very successful mix of road movie, generational film but also an existential journey for nothing, an element that has been widely underestimated for a long time. Above all, there was a deep bond with the cinema of that Gabriele Salvatores, who only a few years earlier had nabbed an unexpected Oscar with his Mediterranean.

The mythical beach soccer match against the Moroccan bricklayers was, after all, a warm homage to his beautiful Marrakech Express. Aldo, Giovanni and Giacomo were thirty years old when that film was released, capable of reaching 50 billion revenues, 25 million euros today, a figure that not even Avatar 2 today can think of reaching. Just to understand how much the Italian reality has worsened and not only in the box office.

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Being 30 was already complicated at the end of those optimistic, progressive and flourishing 90s, with the Third Way that seemed just a step away, the promise of a wonderful future, because already at the time those of that age reflected on what they really wanted from life.

Or better yet, to cite Gabriele Salvatores and his Mediterranean again, it was often not yet decided whether to start a family or lose oneself in the world. Three men and a leg makes this  doubt enter the heads of its protagonists and ours little by little, between a sketch, a joke, that legendary Ayeye Brazov or the parody of Count Dracula.

But under cover, here he spoke to us about Italy, the divisions between North and South, the poor and the rich, its problems and the lack of true freedom. A freedom that just slips through your fingers at the age of thirty, when you don't have the courage to pursue it as you should.

This was in fact a film that spoke to us above all of the difficulty of growing up, of getting out of one's comfort zone, of facing one's fears and above all of dominating one's life.

Not exactly the classic lifesaver operation with which to ennoble the worst of the average Italian, to laugh at our material or moral misfortunes, to pick the family, the great cornerstone around which revolved and still rotates a large part of our cinematography.

But Three Men and a Leg was not interested in this, as a consequence it was much more linked to overseas cinema, one could see the reflections of a Fandango , as well as of that Stand By M e , which is still today the most beautiful information film ever. And this was just a coming-of-age film, while it showed us a truth that thirty-year-olds then and now discover with amazement: no choice is forever, our life is not already written, we always have the option to choose.

A small revolution between language and fantasy

Only the year before Danny Boyle had brought Trainspotting to the big screen, also focused on the total rejection of the ideals of bourgeois life, on that " all your life away from trouble until the day you die” to which Aldo, Giovanni and Giacomo also seemed destined in this film. Three men and a leg worked because it avoided pity, easy sentimentality or consoling the public. We all expected Giacomo to get engaged to Chiara, but in the end, surprisingly and still inexplicably, she decides to abandon them, to abandon him even if she feels the same way. Basically perhaps, so as not to make him once again a slave to the existence of another person, when hers has yet to be defined.

This film was therefore not only fundamental for the incredible renewal it brought within our cinematography and that the trio would continue in the following years, but also for how it spoke to us in a realistic way of everyday life.

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Three men and a leg has settled in our collective memory in a unique way, has completely changed our daily language, yes it is deposited in the most unthinkable universes, even during these World Cup in Qatar on social media there was a bombardment of Memes and jokes referring to this film.

Our way of speaking, our idioms, no film in the history of Italian cinema has influenced them so profoundly, and it does not simply concern the millennial generation, with teenagers who at the time spent entire years imitate the trio and their iconic shorts recorded in the theatre. It concerns all of us, because in their synthesis, in their sometimes grotesque imagination, still today we remember the deception of the cadrega, physically strong Morocco, our carpenter who did it better with 30 thousand lire, or Ronaldo's shirt that was finished, of dead mice after the peperonata, means describing every type of situation, event or feeling in our daily lives.

The truth is that 25 years later, we still haven't realized that we were no longer the same after seeing Three men and a leg, after laughing and thinking together maybe already very young, about the concept of detachment and loss, about change, about the fact that life doesn't always go as we would like. That's why this film is still today one of the most revolutionary of our seventh art, simply because it wasn't just a comedy, it was a film about existence, devoid of caricatures and masks, where our daily struggle against our own was staged. life and ourselves. For this reason we will always love them as we love them three, who were able to make us forget every distortion of our life while they recreated it in front of our eyes with a sweet ferocity. And to think that it all began with a wooden leg and a piece of hardware pulled forward by three thirty-year-old nerds by the standards of the time, privileged by those of now.

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