The Italian Almanac

an image from Decameron Pie

Decameron Pie

A film by British director David Leland updating one of Italy's most famous literary works in the style of Hollywood gross-out movies is to open in Italy next month. Decameron Pie, which takes its name and a slice of inspiration from teen comedy blockbuster American Pie, is a modern retelling of the famously ribald Decameron stories by 14th-century poet Giovanni Boccaccio.

Mischa Barton and Tim Roth star in the film loosely based on Boccaccio's lively collection of stories, in which sexual misadventures were a frequent theme. Italian pin-up actresses Elisabetta Canalis and Anna Galiena appear as naughty nuns keen to be seduced by hero Hayden Christensen, the Canadian actor who played the young Darth Vader in the Star Wars films.

''Boccaccio was a genius in the way he linked the Decameron's 100 different stories together, but we didn't want to make a film of episodes,'' said Leland, who also directed The Land Girls and an episode of World War II miniseries Band of Brothers. ''The biggest problem was deciding on a central story that united the various parallel themes. ''But in terms of the dialogue, the costumes, the scenery and the settings our priority was always the spirit of Boccaccio,'' he added.

Italian producer Dino De Laurentiis praised Leland for ''getting in tune'' with Boccaccio's stories, which are set in and around Florence. ''Leland has written a wonderful, modern, intriguing script with the same themes that still strike a chord with the youth of today: love, sex and adventure,'' De Laurentiis said. Flamboyant Italian designer Roberto Cavalli was brought in to create 150 costumes, which he described as ''recognizable Cavalli''.

But since filming at Rome's Cinecitta' studios and in Tuscany wrapped two years ago, the movie has yet to enjoy great success. So far it looks unlikely to eclipse the 1971 version of the Decameron set in Naples by the late Italian film director Pier Paolo Pasolini, who also capitalised on the sexy romp element of the original.