Da Vinci's Demons, was there a need?

Review of the first episode of Da Vinci's Demons, the drama about Leonardo that debuts in Italian tonight on Fox TV.

Tonight, Fox Tv will air for the first time the Italian version of Da Vinci’s Demons, a series dedicated to none other than the young Leonardo da Vinci.We wanted to see the first episode in the original language before it is broadcast in Italy, partly out of curiosity, partly to hurt ourselves, and partly because on our podcast we have dedicated an episode to Leonardo and have talked about the Renaissance (and thus about many of the characters in the series) so often.

The series seems almost like the daughter in 15th-century sauce of The Da Vinci Code. It is 1476, or that is what we think because of the fact that the episode opens with the killing of Galeazzo Maria Sforza, Duke of Milan (although in fiction it takes place on Palm Sunday and not, as history tells us, on St. Stephen’s Day). The main character, our Leonardo (who is often called by his “last name” by the other characters, who address him by calling him “da Vinci”: dear Americans, but haven’t you figured it out yet that “da Vinci” indicates where he comes from and is not the artist’s last name?), he is the typical star comic hero: handsome (but nothing to say here, even Vasari said so, that Leonardo was a particularly handsome man), arrogant and cocky, always with a ready answer, a skilled fencer, endowed with a razor-sharp wit as well as magnetic charm over women who inevitably do not resist him, dressed in a leather jacket, low-cut shirt and tight pants( an outfit that, by the way, he never changes in a week of events), in short a cross between a Fonzie-like bully, a gloomy Joey Ramone and a very cool Jon Bon Jovi (to which must be added the proverbial Leonardesque acumen). He’s just missing a nice pair of Farrell 62s.

All of course peppered with every self-respecting classic historical-action-movie cliché: the protagonists all handsome, including Lorenzo the Magnificent whom the portraits of the time restore us as a man who is anything but good-looking; the predestined child; the mysterious Turk who has come from afar to guide the protagonist on his journey; the secret sect guardian of arcana to be defended at all costs; the struggle of the “good guys” (Leonardo and his friends) against the “bad guys” (from what we understand, Pope Sixtus IV, Count Girolamo Riario and the Pazzi family), with the bad guys conspiring in dark, hidden rooms illuminated only by the faint light of a few candles, and the inevitable object of the quest around which all the conspiracies of the time revolve, namely a “Book of Leaves,” a source instrument of knowledge and power about which I cannot tell you any more due to the fact that we will learn more in the next installments.

It is a mixture of mysteries, flash-backs, blunt action and slow-motion shots that we often don’t feel the need for: as in the scene where Leonardo buys some starlings from a vendor just to study them as they fly, and these through special effects take the form of the notes (but why?????) that Leonardo takes in his notebook (moreover, this is probably the most interesting scene in the film as it is a “paraphrase” of a passage in Giorgio Vasari ’s Lives in which the Aretine art historian says that Leonardo did indeed happen to buy birds in cages, but not to study them as the fiction suggests, but rather because, Vasari says, Leonardo was a great lover of animals and wanted to give the feathered ones their freedom back). In short, a middle ground between The Da Vinci Code and The Matrix that was not needed.

On the contrary, compared to The Da Vinci Code, which in itself was a good action novel and was also compelling, even in its film adaptation, Da Vinci’s Demons is also rather banal and tedious, and certainly does not entice one to follow the subsequent installments (except to see how the screenwriters will justify the subsequent historical events: for example, the Pazzi conspiracy that will surely be one of the series’ main events). In conclusion, surely our Renaissance, the real one, has little to do with the one imagined by the authors, just as the Leonardo-rockstar of the fiction does not find much correspondence with the historical Leonardo. Historical reconstructions that are a bit forced, protagonists who look more like macchiettes than well-researched and characterized characters, mediocre plot that bores in the long run: in short, watch it if you really have nothing better to do tonight... ! And maybe at the end, click on this link if you’ve had enough and want to discover the real Leonardo da Vinci.

Warning: the translation into English of the original Italian article was created using automatic tools. We undertake to review all articles, but we do not guarantee the total absence of inaccuracies in the translation due to the program. You can find the original by clicking on the ITA button. If you find any mistake,please contact us.