Dustin Hoffman for the Marche Region

Dustin Hoffman’s advert to promote the Marche Region, one year ago, aroused some controversy. In Italy we should change our national sport (soccer, alas!) into love for controversy (it is the most practised sport anyway). Controversy in Italy, though, is best appreciated if unproductive. Should it be fruitful, it would be promptly abandoned for a more idle activity.

What was all the fuss about? Apparently, Dustin Hoffman’s bad Italian pronounciation while reciting Leopardi’s poem: L’Infinito. Wow.

As Alberto Contri (President of Pubblicità Progresso) pointed out, the commercial starring Hoffman is a masterpiece of antirethoric. The choice of a famous foreign actor engaging in the effort of reciting in an impossible language, expresses a deep struggle to know and to embrace such a great patrimony of beauty.

The commercial shows Dustin Hoffman trying to read Leopardi’s verses on an empty theatre stage. He stumbles in his Italian and curses himself every now and then for his bad pronounciation.

Following the verses’ pace, images of one of Italy’s most beautiful and most un-known regions appear and disappear. On the last verse: “e il naufragar m’è dolce in questo mare” – and going under is easeful in this sea – (accompanied by a relief sigh as Hoffman seems to have made it at last), there appear, in contrast to the text, quiet green hills.

Here is the video. Is it good? Is it not good? Posterity, Thine be the hard decision. While awaiting posterity’s comments on the advert, though, let me express my liking it.

By the way, some say that the Marche Region intends to keep collaborating with the great American actor next year. I’ll keep my fingers crossed.


  1. I for one would have added captioning. Words are not without meaning. And the landscapes chosen, albeit a bit didactic, surely take on a different meaning when accompanied by the poet’s words.

    Oh, and I quite liked it. So tongue-in-cheek, but it’s a funny idea, one of the best actors around playing the boneheaded foreigner who can’t master a little pronounciation.

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