Last month, we found out that Elena Ferrante’s gorgeous Neapolitan novels will be made into an Italian TV series, with four seasons (one for each book) of eight episodes each. At that point, we knew Ferrante would be involved somehow, but we didn’t know exacly how, and it wasn’t an easy question. She’s become famous not just for the quality of her novels, but for her commitment to anonymity. There have been countless guesses made as to her identity, all of which have been denied, and it’s stating the obvious to say that if she revealed herself to a group of filmmakers, it wouldn’t be long before that anonymity was shattered.
Today, The Guardian revealed that it won’t be a problem. Ferrante will be communicating with the filmmakers, and offering her thoughts on the script, but she will be doing it via email:
“She will not literally write the script but she will read – I believe – everything. Every single draft, every single scene. She will go through it and by email she will express her thoughts, suggestions, advice,” said Maurizio Dell’Orso, who handles television rights for Ferrante’s publisher, Edizioni E/O. “She is not the kind of person who says: ‘I wrote it, now you go do the rest.’”
In other words, if you hoped this TV show might be the thing that unmasked her, think again.
Furthermore, all communication will go through her editors, and knowing the speed with which film productions evolve and adapt, it’s hard to imagine Ferrante having a ton of influence over the final product. All of which the filmmakers’ task that much harder, since this will be a heavily scrutinized production of a beloved saga. Nobody is under any illusion that the pressure is high—Ferrante’s Neapolitan saga, tracing the origins of two friends as they embark on very different lives, does not immediately come across as an easy fit for the screen.
Despite the obstacles, the production goes ahead, and screenwriter and novelist Francesco Piccolo has embraced the task. As of yet, there is no hint of a release date or a director for any of the first episodes. Best guesses estimate the premiere taking place in 2018.