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The blue arrow

It is the magical night of the Epiphany. Night in which the Befana flies astride a broom over the roofs of Italian houses, to distribute gifts to all children, without distinction, as long as they have been good during the year. But on this fateful day, an unexpected cold - caused by the administration of a poison by the interested assistant Mr. Scarafoni - will force her to bed and prevent her from carrying out the generous mission in person. He will then take care of it, but will bring gifts only to rich children (well represented by the pompous Carlo Alberto and Filippo Maria), those who have paid for the toys requested good money. Meanwhile, the streets of the small town breathe an air full of trepidation: people wander among the shops to make their last purchases and in a short time a large number of buyers, made up of children and parents, crowd in front of the Befana shop. , including little Francesco. The latter, seeing in the window a splendid little train - the Blue Arrow, which reminds him of his recently deceased father - decides to request it in the letter for the Befana. But having entered the shop to deliver the message, he will make the unwelcome acquaintance with the cynical assistant; who, after learning about the child's economic situation - that is, that he cannot afford to pay - abruptly chases him away (and with him a battered toy duck, which nevertheless will have the opportunity to redeem himself). In the meantime the toys, endowed with a great soul, a generous heart and a will of their own, regret that no poor child would have received gifts and, not wanting to end up abandoned in a corner of the room of some rich and spoiled child, they decide to organize an escape; to find Francesco under the guidance of the brave little dog Spicciola and to treat himself - each according to his own characteristics - to the right child. This is how Spicciola, the wise Indian chief Piuma D'Argento, the Carlotta and Roberta dolls, the tender teddy bear, The gruff but sensitive captain Mezzabarba, the wooden soldiers, the heartless magician, the intrepid aviator and finally the train with its equipment, reached the outside world will become the protagonists of a fantastic adventure. An adventure full of dangers and pitfalls, as well as sweet moments and unforgettable encounters. The riskiest moments will be characterized by the chase of the sinister assistant, who will be on the point of catching the group twice. The first will be when the magician, not wanting to end up in the "smelly of mold and fried sauce" houses of poor children, will betray his companions by showing Scarafoni the way to find them: luckily our friends will escape the imminent danger and the from insensitive magician he will become good, because colored pencils will draw him the heart he did not have. The second time our friends will be saved thanks to Spicciola, who will attack the attacker in the arm, making them gain their escape: Unfortunately he will end up being thrown into a garbage can. Meanwhile, the Befana, due to a protest phone call, will discover Scarafoni's cheating; then, equipped with a spare broom, he will mobilize the artisans of the city in order to fill his sack with new toys and carry out the distribution of gifts. At the same juncture, two sinister individuals, taking advantage of the absence of the good-natured old lady, try to break into the shop through a narrow passage to steal the money stored in the safe. Failing to do so, they will kidnap Francesco, just out of the cinema where he was selling candy, and they will force him to enter the building. Here the child will immediately call the police, however he too will be believed to be an accomplice and taken to the police station. Fortunately for him, a porter, his friend, returning home will attend the scene and will inform the witch. The latter, although animated by the urgency to carry out her duty, will free Francis, thanks to his proven experience in terms of children. He will also promise him a gift before the break of dawn. At this point Francesco heads home; a passing coachman, seeing him sad and tired, offers to take him home in a carriage. While the horses walk along the road, the child falls asleep and dreams of being on the Blue Arrow, in the company of the toys, the Befana and her beloved father. His sleep, however, is interrupted by a sudden roar: the passage of a puppy dog ​​makes the horses go wild. It is Spicciola, who has become a little dog in flesh and blood "because in the magical night of the Epiphany anything can happen". Seeing him lost and frightened, Francesco feels a strong sympathy towards him and decides to take him with him. The joy of the child will be such that he does not want other gifts. Instead, the Befana will do much more for him! He will offer to become his trusted assistant. While Scarafoni will try to escape taking the money with him; but his escape attempt will be blocked by the defrauded parents and rich children and will end in ruin.

The Freccia Azzurra is an extremely successful Italian animation product, through which E. D'Al has been able to preserve with extraordinary wisdom the freshness and poetry of the tale by Gianni Rodari, from which it is drawn. The rounded and dynamic drawings, created by the skilled Paolo Cardoni, contribute to express in a direct and dynamic way the narrative structure of the fairy tale, without ever forcing it or trivializing the depth of the issues addressed.
The images in which Spicciola dreams of being devoured, together with Francesco, by the greed of Scarafoni are particularly suggestive; the dream of Francesco himself, in which fantasy desires and reality intertwine: a further gift of the Befana, as she is aware of the child's deepest desire.
It should also be emphasized the sequences in which the whimsical pencils work to entertain a very sweet child of about 5 years: once again reality and imagination expand, in order to give us back the extraordinary world of childhood and the game connected to it. This leads us to reflect on how the child, unlike the adult, can create, animate, look at the essential of things, dialogue with the inanimate. The Freccia Azzurra was able to bring out in a simple and linear way also the important reflections that characterize the original story; as the critique of consumerism; the need to rediscover the didactic function of the game; the delicacy of sentiments, solidarity, gratuity and generosity. There are also elements of the typically Italian tradition (including dramatic ones such as social poverty, division into classes, child labor), or a cross-section of Italy between the 30s and 50s.
I recommend everyone to watch this first feature film by Enzo D'Alo, framed by the music of Paolo Conte, whose poignant and melancholic notes fully convey the sweetness and tenderness inherent in the story.
The Freccia Azzurra was presented in 1996 in Venice, Special Initiatives section, and won the David di Donatello and 2 silver ribbons.

by Helga Corpino

Original title: 
The blue arrow
Italy Luxembourg Switzerland
92 '
Directed by: 
Enzo D'Alò
Gianni Rodari
Magic Lantern, Fama Film AG, Monipoly Productions
You know
Paolo Conte
Other films by Enzo D'Alò


All names, images and trademarks are copyright Enzo D'Alò, Gianni Rodari Lanterna Magica, Fama Film AG, Monipoly Productions and of those entitled and are used here exclusively for cognitive and informative purposes.

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