Cannes 2023: “The Abduction”, the martyrs of Marco Bellocchio

May 23, 2023 by No Comments

Pick up ***

by Marco Bellocchio

Italian film, 2 h 05

At 83, Marco Bellocchio is with Ken Loach one of the veterans of the Cannes competition. However, the Italian filmmaker has not lost his vigor with this Removal, “Rapito” in Italian, whose baroque scale and the Christ figures that dot it will probably not be unanimous on the Croisette. And yet after The traitor, a more classic film that dealt with the mafia, the director, as in his recent series Esterno note, returns to the very essence of his cinema: Italy, family, politics and the martyrs that we are ready to sacrifice on the altar of ideologies (or dogma).

We can thus almost establish a relationship between the kidnapping of Aldo Moro, head of Christian Democracy assassinated by the Red Brigades, and that of this 6-year-old child, at the heart of his new film. The fact is here again historic: little Edgardo Mortara, the sixth child of a Jewish family in Bologna, was taken from his parents in 1857 by order of the tribunal of the Holy Office, on the grounds that he had been baptized in secret by his nurse. The canon law which prevailed at the time of the “Pope-King” required that every baptized child receive a Catholic education.

Baroque imagery

Against the background of the process of unification of Italy and the questioning of the temporal power of the pope, the efforts of the Edgardo family to recover their child will come up against the inflexible position of Pius IX. History interests me particularly because it allows me, above all, to stage a crime committed in the name of an absolute principle., explained the filmmaker. The crime is the fate of a broken child, separated from his family, forced to deny his faith and his culture and who will remain all his life torn between his filial love and his loyalty to his new religion.

From this point of view, the whole beginning of the film is a splendor. In the chiaroscuro of candlelit interiors, the warmth of the Mortaras’ hearth radiates and makes the separation between Edgardo and his family even more painful. The coldness of the House of catechumens where he was sent to Rome, that of a Vatican in declining power succeeded him.

And Bellocchio’s staging becomes more and more grandiloquent and sonorous as the historical and personal drama unfolds. With this share of lyricism and symbolism specific to the director, even if it remains relatively discreet here. Caricatures mocking the Pope come to life before his eyes, or turn into nocturnal nightmares, a Christ freed from his nails descends from the Cross, or even Pius IX literally collapsing when the national army enters Rome. From all this baroque imagery, reinforced by the omnipresence of religious symbols, the film draws its oppressive character. And makes Marco Bellocchio a master of the genre.


Cannes, day 9

On the program of the day, the second French film of the competition and the return of Nanni Moretti on a scooter:

The Passion of Dodin Bouffantby Tran Anh Hung, is the director’s adaptation of The smell of green papaya of a classic of gastronomic literature published in 1924 on the shared passion for cooking between a fine gourmet and his cook Eugénie, with Benoît Magimel and Juliette Binoche.

Towards a bright futurewhere Nanni Moretti sign, two years later Tre pianithe return to an autobiographical comedy in which he recounts the setbacks of a director in the midst of a family and professional crisis.


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