In its original format, the miniseries consists of 2 episodes lasting 100 minutes each. In this format, it was first broadcast by the TV channel Rai 1, in prime time, on September 22 and 23, 2004. Rai then offered a shortened version of the drama, in the television movie format, with a total duration of 114 minutes. Years later, in 2009, the fiction was re-released by TV2000, the television station of the Italian Bishops' Conference, in its original format.
Narrated in flashback, the miniseries depicts Don Bosco's vocation: a vocation lived in the sign of cheerfulness and optimism, despite the many difficulties encountered throughout his life. The story traces the childhood of John Bosco, shown from the start as a young man with a keen intelligence and a great desire to get things done. In Turin, where he arrives as an adult and especially as a priest, he comes into contact with many poor, desperate, and marginalized boys. He meets young men forced to steal and beg, exploited for heavy and underpaid work. It is then that Don Bosco puts into practice an idea that is nothing short of revolutionary: the oratory, a safe place where boys can study, play, learn, and be loved and respected.
However, some do not approve of this project. The Vicar of the city, Marquis Clementi, has always considered those desperate youngsters dangerous and irredeemable and therefore tries to hinder Don Bosco's dream by any means.
It is only thanks to the generous offer of a Turin man that Don Bosco can have the chance to start again. In the country, he opens a new oratory, equipped with space in which he can set up workshops to teach the boys a trade. Once again, however, Don Bosco finds new obstacles in his path. Against him and against the Salesian Congregation which he founded the new archbishop Lorenzo Gastaldi rages. The tale ends, however, with a hopeful sign: the Holy See finally approving the Salesian Congregation.
Filming for this miniseries was carried out, starting in 2003, between Rome, Turin, and Viterbo. Here, particularly in the Cloister of Santa Maria della Quercia, the Turin boarding school that saw the beginnings of Don Bosco's work was reconstructed.
To this day, this miniseries remains among the most acclaimed by audiences, thanks to the grace with which the story is told, but also thanks to an excellent cast that was able to give life and credibility to figures such as Don Bosco, Mamma Margherita, Michele Rua, Giovanni Cagliero, Domenico Savio, Marquis Clementi, and many others. Performers, in addition to the aforementioned Flavio Insinna, include Lina Sastri, Daniel Tschirley, Lewis Crutch, Ry Finerty, and Charles Dance.
For ANS readers, we highlight the Italian version.