Then we realise that the queue is just for the people waiting to go up the tower in the Ascensore Panoramico, the panoramic lift, to take a shot of Turin’s rooftops in the rain. We can skip around to the ‘museo solo’ line, which is much shorter.
We can’t blame people for wanting to go up to the top of the tower, though. When it was first completed in 1889, the Mole Antonelliana which houses the museum was the tallest masonry building in Europe. It was originally intended to be a synagogue, though it would have been a very strange, pointy, multi-storey affair. The Municipality of Torino took over the building project, intending to make it a monument to national unity. Now the image of the ‘vertical dream’, as its architect Antonelli referred to it, appears on the Italian 2 cent Eurocoins, so we know it’s really made it.
And an extraordinary, witty temple to cinematic art it is too. We’re well-disposed towards this place as soon as we pass through the shop and I spot a model of Hugo Weaving in Matrix pose. The tables in the bar downstairs have screens built into them, where we can read the menu, but also watch famous film clips of people eating. I was hoping to find Meg Ryan’s faked orgasm scene from When Harry Met Sally ‘I’ll have what she’s having’, remember? But no such luck.
In the exhibition areas we’re fascinated to see the original scripts of Citizen Kane and The Godfather II (I’d almost forgotten what a courier-typed script looked like), Fellini’s hat and scarf, and a signed contract in which Jimmy Stewart agrees he has received $300,000. The kids prefer the rubber Aliens monster and the Darth Vader masks.
We love lying back in the lounge chairs watching clips of Fellini, Bertolucci, Wertmuller et al.
The current special exhibition, in honour of the displaying of Shroud of Turin in the cathedral, is called Ecce Homo. My language skills fail me, and I wonder momentarily if it has anything to do with a gay man. It doesn’t. It’s the Latin phrase used by Pilate when he displayed Jesus to the hostile crowd – ‘Behold the man’. The museum has put together a massive collection of material concerning any film ever made about Jesus for us to behold. They’re all there; posters, still shots and publicity material from Cecil B de Mille to Jesus Christ Superstar and Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christ. There’s one notable gap in the collection though – where’s Monty Python’s Life of Brian?
Entry to the museum costs 7 euros, or 9 euros including the panoramic lift.
To see the English version of the museum’s website, go to: