Journey to Tulum: the script that Fellini turned into a comic book

In 1984 the Italian director Federico Fellini traveled to Tulum to shoot a film, which never came to fruition, and which eventually became a comic. This is the story of Journey to Tulum.

Journey to Tulum, Fellini comic. Image: Mexico Desconocido
Journey to Tulum, Fellini comic. Image: Mexico Desconocido

An enthusiastic reader of Carlos Castaneda, Federico Fellini set out to film The Teachings of Don Juan. He interviewed Castaneda and lived with Mexican sorcerers. That seemed like an orgy of ideas, but the whim, distrust, and disagreements ended with collaboration and love.

The first disagreement between Castaneda and Fellini occurred when the Peruvian-American writer proposed to the Italian director that the film is shot in natural settings in Mexico. Fellini replied that it should be filmed in the Roman studios of Cinecittá where he always worked. But when someone saw the Caribbean being made, he said: "Master Federico, the sea that is creating in Cinecittá exists and is in Tulum".

The day Fellini traveled to Mexico

Fellini and his entourage traveled to Mexico in 1984 to look for locations in the Yucatan Peninsula. Castaneda and Fellini undertook an amazing tour of Mexico.

The author of Julieta de los Espíritus was fascinated by the medicinal plants he saw at the Mercado Sonora (in Mexico City). But Castaneda's friends showed their professional zeal before the director of La Dolce Vita... And it was sorcerer's jealousy. Distrust of a Mexican sorcerer who is not willing to share his precious secrets with strangers.

Fellini Tulum comic. Image: Mexico Desconocido
Fellini Tulum comic. Image: Mexico Desconocido

From cinema to comics

After receiving some threatening phone calls, Fellini ceased to be interested in the film Journey to Tulum and in 1989 began publishing in the Corriere Della Sera, a personal and free chronicle about Mexico and its magicians.

The great Milo Manara was commissioned with the cartoons, and seduced by the erotic force and dreamlike atmospheres of his friend Federico's chronicles, Manara confessed: "I am ideologically fellinian". Moving away from the stories of Castaneda, Manara and Fellini projected to the stratosphere the world of Mexican shamanism by "resurrecting" an ancient race of Toltec seers.

The main character was a younger and more handsome Federico who embodied Marcello Mastroianni, Fellini's alter-ego.

Fellini's number one admirer, Chilean Alejandro Jodorowsky wanted to retake the film project Viaje a Tulum but to date has not had the financial opportunity to materialize it.

With better luck has run the Mexican Tiahoga Ruge, who in 1980 was Fellini's assistant, and with the footage that portrayed Fellini in Mexico directed Soñando con Tulum, a film that initially intended to be documentary but by 2011 had become a science-fiction film.

Source: Mexico Desconocido