July 26, 2021

Antonio Banderas will be The Monster of Florence, the one who removed sexual organs from his victims

While waiting for the premiere of Official competition, by Gastón Duprat and Mariano Cohn, in which he performs alongside Oscar Martinez and Penelope Cruz, Antonio Banderas prepares to star Floren’s monstercia, by StudioCanal, a six-hour limited series based on the best seller of the The New York Times, The Florence Monster: A True Storyby Douglas Preston and Mario Spezi.

The original book sold half a million copies and was translated into 24 languages.

And it’s really creepy.

Banderas, with Penélope Cruz and Oscar Martínez. Photo Clarín Archive

In many cases, the killer removed the sexual organs from the bodies of female victims.

Maybe the “Monster of Florence” sounds familiar to them, since it was adapted to film and TV several times. Thomas Harris, the author of Hannibal, which would later be made into a movie in 2001 by Ridley Scott, with Anthony Hopkins Like Hannibal Lecter, he traveled to Florence and was at the trial that followed Pietro Pacciani, indicated at some point as the murderer.

Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lecter.  The author of the novel "Hannibal" was based on The Monster of Florence.  Photo Clarín Archive

Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lecter. The author of the novel “Hannibal” was based on The Monster of Florence. Photo Clarín Archive

The monster of Florence “will focus on the actual investigation carried out by American fiction writer Preston and Italian crime journalist Spezi, into what StudioCanal describes as “one of the most fascinating and notorious serial murder cases in European history.”

What role will Banderas have? He will play Spezi.

The miniseries – this means, it will be like The Undoing, with Hugh Grant and Nicole Kidman, or Lady’s gambit, with Anya Taylor-Joy: it will not have a continuation or another season- it will be directed by the Danish Nikolaj Arcel.

Mario Spezi, who investigated the murders, was accused of being The Monster of Florence.  ANSA photo

Mario Spezi, who investigated the murders, was accused of being The Monster of Florence. ANSA photo

Director of The unfaithful queen (2013), which was nominated for the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film the same year it won Love, by Michael Haneke, will make the series based on the scripts written by himself and Anders Thomas Jensen (who wrote the one for In a better worldor, from another Danish woman, Susanne Bier, who did win the Oscar in that category in 2011).

Banderas, who will serve as executive producer together with his representative, Emanuel Nuñez, can rest easy regarding the scripts, since Arcel himself had written the adapted script from The girl with the dragon tattoo, in the version that Noomi Rapace had starred in.

The peculiarity of the case is that the investigators became the object of the Italian police persecution to find the murderer. And Spezi was even accused of being the murderer.

Douglas Preston, the American journalist who co-authored the book with Mario Spezi.  AFP photo

Douglas Preston, the American journalist who co-authored the book with Mario Spezi. AFP photo

The book was written in 2008, and it casts a lot of doubt on Pietro Pacciani (1925-1998), who was a simple farmer from Mercatale (San Casciano in Florence, Italy), and suspected of being the infamous serial killer known as the Monster of Florence (Il Mostro di Firenze).

Also known as “The Surgeon of Death,” another of his nicknames, the serial killer terrorized Florence for nearly two decades. The murders occurred between August 21, 1968 and September 8, 1985. The number of victims differs, but they are between 14 and 16.

At the time, the Italian Justice determined that there had been not one, but three, perpetrators of the homicides, who were convicted. They were known as Snack companions, or snack companions.

Robert Downey Jr.  y Jake Gyllenhaal and "Zodiac"by David FIncher.  Photo WB

Robert Downey Jr. and Jake Gyllenhaal in David FIncher’s “Zodiac.” Photo WB

While looking for the killer, he was related to the famous Zodiac Killer (made a film by David Fincher, who competed at the Cannes Film Festival in 2007, with Jake Gyllenhaal, Robert Downey Jr. and Mark Ruffalo entitled precisely Zodiac).

Most of the victims were couples, who were caught in their car in remote areas, where they hoped not to be disturbed while they engaged in sex.

The cases varied. They could be couples shot or stabbed to death, about to get married, or lovers, as was the first case. The terrible thing about that double homicide of August 21, 1968, is that in the car slept, in the back seat, the young son of the woman riddled with bullets from a Beretta, caliber 22.

George Clooney was going to play Preston when the screenwriter of "The usual suspects" he had acquired the rights.  AFP photo

George Clooney was going to play Preston when the writer of “The usual suspects” had acquired the rights. AFP photo

Natalino Mele was 6 years old when she woke up, saw her dead mother, and escaped. He ran for a few kilometers and knocked on the door of a house. “Let me in, I’m sleepy, and my dad is sick in bed. He has to take me home because my mother and my uncle are dead in the car ”.

As Bárbara Locci (32), Natalino’s mother, was famous for her affairs, the son called his occasional lovers “uncles”, the men he saw with his mamma. Stefano Mele, a man much older than his wife, was charged with the double crime (the lover was a 29-year-old bricklayer) and spent 6 years in prison. He always pleaded not guilty.

And while he was incarcerated, more murders occurred … Another was raped with a dry trunk of a vine after he had been murdered. And they disfigured his face with 97 stab wounds.

Banderas y su Palma for best actor at Cannes 2019 for "Pain and glory", from Almodóvar, next to Alejandro González Iñárritu.  Reuters photo

Banderas y su Palma for best actor at Cannes 2019 for “Pain and glory”, by Almodóvar, alongside Alejandro González Iñárritu. Reuters photo

It was not until 1981 that the Florentine police realized that the subsequent murders were related. And it was from an article by Mario Spezi, who warned that the weapon, the revolver used in a 1974 murder, was the same as in another.

Already Christopher McQuarrie (Oscar-winning screenwriter for The usual suspects, and a librettist friend of Tom Cruise, for whom he wrote the Jack Reacher Y On the edge of tomorrow, and those of the last two Mission Impossible premiered and those to come, which he also directed and directs) had acquired the rights to take it to the cinema. And George Clooney was going to be Preston. But the project was unsuccessful.

“The book is powerful, compelling, dangerous and personal. You just can’t believe all of this happened to (its authors). We are looking forward to starting production on the series in Florence and working with one of our favorite actors, Antonio Banderas, ”said Ron Halpern, who is Executive Vice President of Global Production at StudioCanal, openly enthusiastic.

Flags and Cross, in a scene from "Official competition"by Mariano Cohn and Gastón Duprat.  Photo Clarín Archive

Banderas and Cruz, in a scene from “Official Competition”, by Mariano Cohn and Gastón Duprat. Photo Clarín Archive

“In all the annals of world crime, the Florence Monster case stands out as the most chilling and enigmatic,” Preston added.

How will the series be

The series will chronicle how Preston and Spezi identify the killer and will even conduct what Preston describes as a “terrifying interview” with him. The two are then, in Preston’s words, “plunged into a heartbreaking vendetta, our phones are tapped, we are hunted and threatened by the police, accused of participating in Satanic rites, culminating in Mario being arrested and accused of being the Monster of Florence “.

Jonathan Pryce, Madonna, Banderas and director Alan Parker in Buenos Aires, where part of "Avoid".  AP Photo

Jonathan Pryce, Madonna, Banderas and director Alan Parker in Buenos Aires, where part of “Evita” was filmed. AP Photo

It is that he was even imprisoned by the prosecutor Giuliano Mignini for obstructing the investigation, although the charges were dismissed on appeal.

Sure, it’s Preston speaking, because Spezi passed away almost five years ago, on September 9, 2016, at age 71.

“What if an entire country begins to believe a destructive lie, fueled by corrupt men in power? That is the big idea at the heart of The monster of Florence, and I can’t imagine a better time to tell it, “Arcel said.

We will surely see it next year. And, yes, we will compare.

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