"From the Apennines to the Andes" was based on a story of Edmondo De
Amicis included in his sentimental children's book "Cuore" (Heart) that
was widely read in Italy and used to teach lessons on moral rectitude,
filial love, social and patriotic responsibility.
This film follows the general outline of the story, while making some
changes along the way. The hero of the film is 11 year old Marco
Valesini (age 13 in De Amicis' story.) He leaves his home in Genoa to
try to reach Argentina where his mother has been living for a time as a
servant to make money to send home to the family. Marco reaches
Argentina as a stowaway on a ship. Having arrived in Buenos Aires, he
enlists the help of several people to direct or transport him to a
remote mountain location where his mother now resides.
On board the boat that plies the Paraná River, he befriends the captain
and, like a true Genoese, makes a nice pesto for him and the boat-hands
using what he has learned from his mamma to prepare the famed pasta
sauce of his city.
Eventually he finds mamma, who at first doesn't recognize him, but he
remains with her during the time she is ill, and they share a couple of
happy encounters before beginning their return voyage home to Italy,
together again, to rejoin papa.
The movie was directed by Folco Quilici, whose real fame in the Italian
cinema rests with his innumerable exotic documentaries such as "The
Last Paradise" and his boy-befriends-shark movie "Tiko and the Shark."
He has used much of this movie as an excuse to show us the scenery of
Argentina, from the gauchos on the pampas to the peoples of the Andes,
all in Cinepanoramic-Technicolor. The picturesque qualities of the
narrative sometimes obscure the picaresque adventures of our hero. You
can hardly blame him since the elements of the story are rather slim to
begin with. Marco Paoletti plays Marco Valesini and isn't required to
act very much except to look cute-little-boyish and happy, plaintive,
or tearful as required. He was seen in a few other Italian films,
played a true picaresque role in the Spanish film "Lazarillo" and
performed in Aldo Fabrizi's "Il maestro" along with another Italian boy
actor his age, Edoardo Nevola.
Like the story of De Amicis, the film was really made with the young
person in mind and must have done well at matinée audiences for Italian
youngsters, and perhaps Spanish-speaking ones since this
Italian-Argentine co-production was shown primarily in those two
versions. It was never released in America. A 1943 version directed by
Flavio Calzavara had starred Cesarino Barbetti as young Marco. There
was also a 1916 silent version and a 1990 TV mini-series based on the
ever-popular story. There is also a Japanese animated version from 2000
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