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Projects Information; Virgin Territory
Character: Lorenzo de Lamberti
Release Date N/A (2007/8)
Directed By: David Leland
Written By: David Leland
Genre: Drama / Adventure / Comedy / Romance
MPAA Rating: n/a
Produced by: Dino De Laurentiis Productions
Distributed by: The Weinstein Co
Budget: $38, 000, 000
Filming Dates: April, May, June 2005

....Mischa Barton...Pampinea Anastagi
...Christopher Egan...Dioneo
...Tim Roth...Gerbino
...Silvia Colloca...Sister Lisabetta

Release Dates:
USA....N/A (2007/8)
France and Algeria, Monaco, Morocco and Tunisia - November 30, 2021
Russia - CIS -December 13, 2007
Lithuania December 14, 2021

Filming Locations:
Florence, Tuscany, Italy
Rome, Lazio, Italy
Siena, Tuscany, Italy

VIRGIN TERRITORY, a refreshing celebration of life in all its beauty, puts a modern spin on Giovanni Boccaccio’s classic work of Italian literature.

In the 14th century, Florence was a city of pure delight, sumptuously prosperous: a city of art and culture where people of all ages celebrated life to the full. But in 1346 life changed. The city was ravaged by a merciless plague known as ‘The Black Death’.

Lorenzo de Lamberti (Hayden Christensen) an innocent and adventurous young blood, finds himself on the wrong side of Gerbino de la Ratta (Tim Roth). De La Ratta’s wealth has been gleaned from his ability to live on both sides of the law; murder is part of his armoury and Lorenzo is his prime target. Lorenzo escapes from Florence and finds refuge working as a gardener in a convent.

Pampinea Anastagi (Mischa Barton) is the only daughter of a respected and wealthy family who suddenly finds herself alone. Gerbino de la Ratta, who has designs on both her body and wealth, subtly threatens to confiscate her home to pay off her father’s debts – then offers to marry her as an escape route from her imminent financial ruin. Pampinea counters that she has been betrothed to be married to a Russian count who is on his way to Florence from Novgorod.

Pampinea meets with a small group of friends and persuades them to escape Florence and travel to her family’s villa in the countryside to act as witness to her marriage to the Russian Count. The marriage will release her both from Gerbino’s unwanted attention and the threat of financial ruin.

As Pampinea’s friends escape Florence and embark on a series of adventures of their own, Pampinea retreats to a convent where from behind her nun’s veil – and after a secret kiss – she falls in love with Lorenzo. Lorenzo also falls in love, but does not know who has delivered the fatal heart-melting kiss.

The twists and turns of their love story and the adventures of their friends, finally lead to Pampinea’s villa, where all the dramatic and comic conflicts and confusions of the numerous relationships finally come together and are resolved in a celebration of love and life in all their glory.

Writer/director David Leland´s modern interpretation of Giovanni Boccaccio´s classic work is a stimulating and erotic story of innocence, love, sex and lasting friendship. As these friends make their way through the Tuscan landscape they discover life through the tragedy and danger they left behind. It is a timeless tale full of irreverence and humour - rich with passion and sexuality – and has a unique vision and dramatic style of its own.

Finding the right actors to play the two leads, Lorenzo de Lamberti and Pampinea Anastagi, was critical to the success of the film. But, as Dino De Laurentiis says: The secret with catching the star is always the script. When you have good material you can attract any star you want.

For Pampinea, we were looking for someone who had a patrician beauty and was right on the cusp of fame- we wanted a marvellous young actress," says Martha De Laurentiis. "Mischa Barton had just hit the big time with THE O.C. We sent her the script and she said yes. She was perfect for the role. For Lorenzo, we needed an actor who had the innocence of an angel but was also photogenic in a masculine way. That combination is rare in many young actors. Hayden Christensen loved the script and said yes immediately."

Leland was just as enthusiastic about the two leads. I had seen Hayden’s work and immediately liked him. I think he is a phenomenal actor. He's got acting in his bones. As for Mischa, it was thanks to my 16-year-old son, who suggested her. The OC’ has a phenomenal following among young people; it’s quite extraordinary. Every Thursday night when "The OC" was on, my living room would be full with my son and his friends.

David Leland on Hayden, Mischa, Roth- Hayden and Mischa make a terrific romantic couple, says Leland. They really sparked off each other and had real chemistry on screen. But, what's so great is that I have two actors who are right for the parts. This film came at exactly the right time in both their careers.

When it came to choosing the actor who would play Gerbino de la Ratta- the wealthy villain of the piece, who is intent on seducing Pampinea- Leland cast Tim Roth. It was their first collaboration since MADE IN BRITAIN, which Leland wrote and which marked the actor's very first screen role.

I was very happy to have Tim there because he brought the right kind of gravitas to the villain of the piece, explains Leland. He brought a huge wealth of experience with him to the role. He’s a finely crafted screen actor who knows every element of what's happening on set and knows what you need in terms of a shot. And, he invented a wonderful character. He was very good to have around, too, in terms of the other actors. He was a tremendous challenge for Hayden and I know Hayden wanted that.

The look of the film:
Just as with the costumes, Dino and Martha De Laurentiis had a very particular brief for production designer Jim Clay. The BAFTA-winning designer has worked on a range of films, from period films such as Richard Eyre's STAGE BEAUTY and Martha Fiennes' ONEGIN to contemporary dramas including Richard Curtis's LOVE ACTUALLY and most recently Woody Allen's MATCH POINT.

When I first met Dino and David, Dino said Do not give me a period movie. Initially that seemed like an odd thing to say given that it is The Decameron, it's Boccaccio and it’s written in the 14th century, Clay explains. But, I never questioned him because I knew exactly what he meant. I’ve worked on a lot of period movies that were done with great integrity period-wise, but never found an audience. With this style of writing and a young cast, I know Dino and David wanted to make the film accessible to a young audience.

Not wanting to be a slave to historical authenticity, Clay allowed himself the artistic freedom to place the story between the 14th and 16th centuries. This gave him and his team greater freedom in their choice of locations, style and set design.

This time frame edged us more towards Baroque and gave us architecture which had a much greater sense of excess and flamboyance, whilst in keeping with the style of Roberto's costumes, he says. It seemed to serve the look of the movie better. The language is not period and the music won’t be either. The tale of young peoples' discovery of themselves is obviously timeless and the film should be too. We did have the debate of whether they should arrive on Lambretta scooters instead of horses, which would have made it entirely contemporary, but that didn’t seem to sit comfortably or correctly at all. We had to have those conversations to discover if that was right or not. My approach has been to serve the beauty of the story, rather than the authenticity of the period."

The touchstone for everybody has to be ‘The Decameron', it has to be Boccaccio," says Leland. "Whether it's the acting, dialogue, costumes, design or setting, is it in the spirit of Boccaccio?"

The setting of the story in Renaissance Italy gave the filmmakers the gift of being able to use locations throughout central Italy during the nine-week shoot. From a deserted medieval convent in Bracciano (near Rome) to the beautiful period buildings of Sienna and San Gimignano and the lush countryside around Caprarola, the production moved on to the historic Cinecitta Studios in Rome.

The story is set in Florence but it is such a busy metropolis that it’s very hard to shoot there," says Jim Clay. "So, we chose San Gimignano and Sienna as two of the bigger areas that would give the movie scale. The Duomo in Sienna has similar architecture to the Duomo in Florence and fit the visual style of the film perfectly. The locations we are in are period, but we chose them for their beauty more than anything else.”

Martha De Laurentiis adds: "Sienna opened up their doors to us and fortunately the large Piazza del Duomo allowed us to film almost 300°. The locations also had a timeless look without being specific to one particular period."

One of Clay's favorite locations was Palazzo Farnesse in Caprarola, which stood in for Pampinea's villa. Now a museum, it was originally built for the popes in the 16th century as their weekend retreat from the Vatican in Rome. One of the buildings within the palazzo used in the film was known as their Pleasure Palace, an appropriate historical reference given the film's subject matter.

Talking about the Palazzo Farnesse, Clay explains: "Martha and Dino had said that the style of Cavalli's costume designs would be one of flourish and excess, so I should try and make the look as excessive as possible. Excess and low budget are not natural bedfellows but we did achieve that through the choice of locations. Palazzo Farnesse was built in the early 16th century and although it's certainly Renaissance, it's edging into Baroque. It gave it all that excess - there are statues that are ten times life size; everything is done with great excess. So we developed the idea of having Pampinea in this fairytale villa and the further we get into the story, the further it moves away from reality. This place just seemed perfectly suited."

Clay's approach certainly impressed Leland, who had last worked with the designer more than twenty years ago in the theatre. The test of a relationship with a production designer is all in the preparation," says the director. “You have to drive hundreds of miles with that person and if you’re comfortable doing that, then you're comfortable making a movie! You have to spend a lot of time together. Jim's wonderful company and all the while, it doesn’t matter what you’re talking about, his eye never rests in terms of what we're looking for."

Director of photography Ben Davis had a similar commitment to the film. "As soon as I met David I knew I wanted to do the film," says Davis, whose credits include Matthew Vaughn's LAYER CAKE and Oliver Parker's upcoming CLICK. “The most interesting thing in working with him is that he's a writer, director and actor so he comes to the party with many tools in his box. He's very much about letting the actors perform and do what they need to do. It's a great way to work, especially when you have a very young cast. But it’s the way to get the best out of them and I think he's done that. David's been a joy to work with and he loves what he's doing. It has been a great atmosphere on set the entire film."

We wanted someone who could photograph the girls and it was so important that everyone looks beautiful," says Martha De Laurentiis. There’s a romantic setting to the story and Ben has enhanced it beautifully with his lighting. Ben is very dynamic, says Leland. Both of us have very strong opinions about the look of a piece, how the camera might move within a scene and how something might look. But we never clashed because at times he would come up with such a clear, dynamic view of something, about which I would agree. He would grab an idea and build on it. It was a real collaboration. The result is that you end up with something that neither of you had really thought of, which is what a good collaboration is all about.
From the Gallery
Also known as
Angels and Virgins
Chasing Temptation
Decameron: Angels & Virgins
Decamerone, Il
Guilty Pleasures
External Links
...The Weinstein Company
...DDA Public Relations
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Role: David Rice
Status: Post-production
Released: February 15, 2022

Role: Clay
Status: Post-production
Released: 2007

Role: Lorenzo de Lamberti
Status: Post-Production
Released: 2008

Role: Billy Quinn
Status: Out on DVD
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