Avere vent’anni (To Be Twenty) – (the title refers to the famous phrase at the beginning of Paul Nizan’s book, Aden Arabia: I was twenty years old. I will never allow anyone to say that these are the best years of my life.), was shot by Fernando di Leo in 1978. He also wrote the script which dates back to some years earlier and came from the desire to portray new female characters who had established a revolutionary psychology, and attitudes in society after 1968.
The intermediaries for this story are two young travelers, Tina and Lia – played by Lilli Carati and Gloria Guida, both very popular actresses at that time, who leave the Italian provinces and go to Rome to join a “community” and are under the illusion of being able to live in complete freedom, especially sexual freedom, without restraints or limits.
They end up being faced with the crudest and fiercest reality. The film, which maintains a comedy tone most of the time, in actual fact distinguishes itself by the terrible and bloody ending…This unpredictable ending (it is so violent that during the shooting the actresses fainted) disappointed the audience and the distributors. The film was almost immediately removed from screening, cut, re-edited and then shown in theatres with a new “consolatory” ending – the home video version also underwent further transformations.
Di Leo had also written a sort of perfect sequel to the film which was never made, with Guida and Carati as the main characters again, but set in the 1940’s: “Quello che volevano sapere due ragazze perbene”, (What two well-to-do girls wanted to know).