Days Of Antonio


" 'Days of Antonio' is based on a true story that took place in 1916 in Veredo, a small town near Milan, Italy. Antonio, a disabled boy, born with one leg shorter than the other in a poor peasant's family, is locked by his parents in a roost to live with the chickens and to be shown off from time to time like a circus attraction. He grows up with the hens, identifying himself with the king of the henhouse, the rooster. At the age of fifteen, he starts satisfying his natural instincts with the hens, but one day his parents catch him with a prostitute and decide to lock him in an insane asylum. 'Days of Antonio' starts the day the unlucky boy is admitted into the asylum, where he finds out the truth: he's not an animal and will never be a human being. The story swings between tragedy and comedy like life in a madhouse from the point of view of the insane.

Dario D'Ambrosi discovered the historical case of Antonio in 1979, during a three-month period when he voluntarily locked himself into the Paolo Pini psychiatric hospital of Milan. It was the aftermath of the Basaglia law, which closed the madhouses in Italy. The relationship between the mentally ill and society were a burning social issue in the Italy of his youth. So at age 19, in the midst of a promising professional soccer career, D'Ambrosi decided to immerse himself in the lives of the insane to learn about these extreme states.

He discovered the case of Antonio when he snatched the boy's actual medical reports from a doctor's valise. He subsequently discovered the scandalous history of this case. In Antonio's day, psychiatric patients judged 'socially unacceptable' were commonly locked up by an order from the Mayor and left to die. Like many other cases of this sort, Antonio's had been suppressed, but there were enough traces left for a play to be born."

Days of Antonio (1981)