A Sicilian Dream, 2015.
Written and Directed by Philip Walsh.
Featuring Francesco da Mosto and Alain de Cadanet.
Documentary tracing the history of the legendary Sicilian motor race, the Targa Florio.
The beautiful island of Sicily has many things to be proud of; the history, the weather, the food. Another aspect of Sicily possibly less well know that makes up a significant part of its history is the Targa Florio, the longest running road motor race in the world. Taking place between 1906 to 1977, the race brought the whole Italian island together in a celebration of competition and speed.
This energetic and exuberant documentary explores the history of the event. Presented by the passionate and engaging pair of the travel presenter and writer Francesco da Mosto and ex-motor racer and presenter Alain de Cadanet, the film mixes interviews and theatrical reconstructions to highlight the full history of the event.
da Mosto uncovers the roots (and indeed the routes) of the Targa and the importance it held for its founders the Florio family. Bringing in an infectious charm and excitement for his subject, da Mosto keeps the film away from overly-laddish Men and Motors style programmes.
At its best, the film highlights what a shock the new sport of motor racing must have been in and around Sicily in the early 20th Century. The contrast between the traditional (occasionally clichéd) scene of native youths relaxing on a sun drenched field and the roar of the motor car brings out just what a world changing experience it must have been. The dangers of this new event are also well documented. Inhabitants of remote villages simply weren’t used to seeing cars whizz past at 60mph. There were many fatalities, with the rules and organisation of the race being somewhat negligent at the outset.
Interviews with people who had connections to the Florio family also complement an intriguing look at how a motor racing event brought Sicily at the forefront of motoring excess.
Real fans of motor-sport will enjoy the scenes involving de Cadanet and da Mosto firing round the Sicilian roads in vintage cars, showing off the some of the angles that the original competitors would have witnessed.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★
Robert W Monk is a freelance journalist and film writer.