Italian Director Saverio Costanzo Will Helm the Television Adaptation of Elena Ferrante's Neapolitan Novels

Illustration for article titled Italian Director Saverio Costanzo Will Helm the Television Adaptation of Elena Ferrantes Neapolitan Novels

Saverio Costanzo, the director of Private and Hungry Hearts, has signed on to helm all four seasons of the television adaptation of Elena Ferrante’s beloved Neapolitan series. He will also help write the episodes alongside Francesco Piccolo and Laura Paolucci, with Ferrante herself contributing via email.


Speaking with The New York Times, Costanzo said that the biggest challenge he faces directing the series—which will be shot on location in Naples with the actors speaking Italian, grazie a Dio—is figuring out a way “to convey the same emotions as the books in a cinematographic way.”

Of the 32-episode series, the Times reports:

The first season will cover the first book [My Brilliant Friend], with eight episodes of 50 minutes each. Filming is expected to begin in Naples this year and the first season is expected to air in the fall of 2018.


The other books—The Story of a New Name, Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay, and The Story of the Lost Child—will each have their own eight episode season.

Ferrante’s best selling Neapolitan Novels—which tell the story of Elena Greco and Lila Cerullo, two best friends growing up in the slums of post-war Naples—are among the most successful books to be translated from Italian to English in modern history. Between the release of the English translation in 2012 and 2016, the series sold 1.2 million copies in the United States, with nine out of 10 buyers being women.

As The Boston Globe reported last April:

Publishing industry executives note that typical bestsellers tend to be widely accessible and offer more suspense or sizzle like Gillian Flynn’s “Gone Girl’’ or E.L. James’s “Fifty Shades of Grey.” This tale is about two ordinary women, is translated from Italian, and is written by an author who refuses to promote the books, insisting the writing should stand on its own.

The level of her success “is extremely unusual even for a book not in translation,” says Michael Reynolds, editor in chief of Europa. “For a book in translation, it is rather phenomenal.”


Considering the way that female audiences overwhelmingly respond to Ferrante’s boiling portrayal of womanhood, it seems a shame that the TV adaptation will be directed and co-written by men, though the creative team being entirely Italian—and featuring both Ferrante and Laura Paolucci—is somewhat encouraging. Besides, in the spirit of My Brilliant Friend, it’s probably Costanzo’s genius temperamental sister who’s doing most the work anyway.

Managing Editor, Jezebel

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I can’t get past the cheesy cover art. Yes, I’m judging a book by its cover. No, I don’t care. But I guess if you all think they’re not as cheesy as their covers convey, I’ll put my snobbery aside.