I ragazzi di via Panisperna

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I ragazzi di via Panisperna
Iragazzi divia Panisperna.jpg
Directed by Gianni Amelio
Produced by Beta Film
Radiotelevisione Italiana
Urania Film
Written by Gianni Amelio
Vincenzo Cerami
Alessandro Sermoneta
Starring Andrea Prodan
Ennio Fantastichini
Music by Riz Ortolani
Cinematography Marco Onorato
Tonino Nardi
Edited by Roberto Perpignani
Distributed by BIM Distribuzione (Italy)
Release date
Running time
123 minutes
Country Italy/West Germany
Language Italian

I ragazzi di via Panisperna (Via Panisperna Boys) is an Italian movie by director Gianni Amelio, telling the enthusiasms, fears, joys and disappointments of the (private and professional) life of a well-known group of young men fond of physics and mathematics, who just made history as the Via Panisperna boys.

The movie derives from a 3-hour long TV movie, which was produced and broadcast in two parts by RAI in 1990.


The story is inspired by a real life fact and set in the 1930s when, at the Institute of Physics of Via Panisperna, in Rome, physicist Enrico Fermi managed to involve a group of brilliant young students—Emilio, Bruno, Edoardo and Ettore (all of whom became famous scientists)—forming a working group committed to scientific research who would achieve great discoveries in the field of nuclear physics.

These young men's lives—full of anxieties as well as enthusiasms—are related with pathos and sensitiveness, mainly looking at their private side, with their youthful energies, but also their fears and weakness.

The story has among the main themes the relationship between Enrico and Ettore, the former becoming both a sort of father and of elder brother to Ettore, with the typical disputes (misunderstandings hiding affection) happening in a family. Unfortunately, the fascist political regime, the racial laws, Ettore's disappearance into nowhere (suspicious death or suicide, it will never be known)—he who already realized how their exciting discoveries could become powerful destruction weapons in wrong hands (attentively see the scene set in Sicilian fields)—all proves to be more decisive than the love for physics which had drawn them together so much and, finally, the boys turn different ways.


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