Alberto Angela: 20 years of ‘Ulysses’, always on the side of the public. “Never fear the future”

Twenty years of disclosure, in a television landscape that has changed: UlisseThe pleasure of discovery celebrates an important birthday; returns from September 16 on Rai 1 with Alberto Angela more and more enthusiastic: “Let’s say that the hull takes the water well, the program exists and resists because it represents people’s curiosity”, he explains “it makes the viewer identify. I ask myself the same questions as the audience and have the opportunity to delve into a topic for two hours, which is a great privilege.

Today in the television scene where the programs offer a variety of topics, they are fast, they jump from one theme to another, I let myself be carried away by a story and take the viewer with me ”. A loyal audience “whom we have embraced and never make us feel alone, especially in these difficult times”, Ulysses moves from Saturday to Wednesday. The anti Covid-19 rules penalized the program, which made a virtue of necessity: the first episode is dedicated to Rome seen from above, then it will be the turn of the tribute to Raffaello for the 500th anniversary of her death, therefore two exceptional portraits, that of the queen Elizabeth II and of John Fitzgerald Kennedy (episode that will air close to the American elections).

Angela, what is the effect of twenty years of Ulisse?
“We didn’t start with the idea of ​​lasting twenty years, it was a great adventure, we did our best, all the possible care, curiosity. But we had the audience on our side, which grew. Our story starts long ago, if you think that Northwest passage is about to celebrate 23 years … “.

You shot after the lockdown, from June to August: no travel, no special visits. How did you work?
“Being a travel program we were penalized. During the lockdown we had done a lot of projects, discussed a lot of ideas without knowing what situation we would be in. Our work group can count on large crews, we shoot in 4 k and 6 k, to understand each other we have two operators on one camera, a technology that requires some care. You can’t expose anyone to covid risk, the first thought was the safety of the whole group, so we built the episodes by traveling with the imagination. Without traveling “.

Start from the sky of Rome: have you used drones?
“When I was on the domes of Venice and saw Piazza San Marco, one of the most populated places, there was a peace. From above you see the cities from a different angle. Seeing Rome from above is an experience, discovering it flying with helicopters and the high and low drones is wonderful. We will give the sensation of flying while sitting in an armchair, of transforming into a swallow or a sparrow to fly not on the clouds but among the roofs. And we will take the spectators up there, to see the city from a different perspective, passing from Trinità dei Monti to Piazza del popolo to Piazza Navona, to descend with vertical movements and resume flight to another area, like Peter Pan ”.

Then the episode dedicated to art, to Raphael 500 years after his death.
“Everyone knows him but while for Michelangelo the works immediately come to mind, when it comes to Raphael you have to think locally: what did he do? People a little escapes instead he was an all-round artist, at the age of 15 he painted a Madonna on the kitchen wall of his home ”.

What did you find out about Queen Elizabeth?
“Who sends signals through the way she carries her handbag … Curiosity aside, she is an extraordinary witness of the 20th century, a woman who found herself in an extraordinary situation and accepted with an incredible spirit of sacrifice to dedicate her life to nation. A movie story: during her honeymoon in Kenya with Filippo she is called back to London, her father dies: she climbs the princess tree to queen descends. We had to go to London, we couldn’t and so we brought London to us. We used the chroma key, it feels like you’re in a big green pool and you can move around as if you were in the places where things happen. The camera, thanks to a series of sensors, enters the image ”.

Did you use the same technique for the Kennedy episode?
“Yup. In other words, we filmed the area of ​​the Kennedy attack and then walked around the car. ‘Get in on the action. We will tell about the family, JFK’s father who dreams of the White House, life with Jackie. Talking about JFK, the spirit of the 60s comes out, the desire to build. Today the future is scary. I always remember a speech by President Ciampi who explained ‘today’s kids are no longer like us, Livorno was destroyed after the war, but everyone has rolled up their sleeves. Every age has its ugliness and its beauties, but the past teaches us that whatever your age is, you have an obligation to believe in the future ”.

What is your challenge after twenty years?
“To intrigue the public, we wanted to conquer our survival day after day, we thought about each step more than the goal. When you realize that a program begins to be part of everyone’s story, you have achieved the goal. I didn’t expect it but I hoped it. If each episode is a page, you hope that a novel will come out: in this case it is the story of science and art. The title we have chosen, Ulisse, it is not accidental. He is a figure who faces the unknown using rationality and a flash of creativity ”.

The season has just started: what does it foresee?
“We had to stop Tonight in Naples and in November, if all goes well, we are ready to start again, then there is still Ulysses but never like this year we are sailing on sight, with great caution. It is enough for a technician to fall ill and everything stops. We need the utmost caution, it is the time for patience and waiting. We must not do rash things ”.

Are you afraid of Covid?
“I’m afraid of the reaction of some people, because the important thing is to keep the front united. It is not an emergency that will last long, I am confident that it will gradually disappear but again we are entering a dangerous situation for irresponsible behavior. This is the time of responsibility for oneself and for others. We must not forget about Bergamo and the people who are no longer there, we must respect and remember them. Compared to other countries, Italy is doing well, if I see how France is. The pandemic is not a joke, now common sense must prevail ”.

He receives expressions of affection, he is an idol of social networks: is trust also a responsibility?
“I’m so pleased not because I’m a TV host, but humanly. We are passengers of a century: when you realize that you can transmit the baggage of your knowledge and unite in times of difficulty, what more could you want? I see our culture as a national anthem, that pleases me, I consider myself a servant of knowledge, of research. The great heroes are the ones who are in the workshops. I can shed light on their work. Beyond the results, it is important to go in prime time and be there. It is valid as a testimony “

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