Franco Elica, a famous movie director, accidentally in Sicily, has been given the job by the Prince of Gravina, to shoot the movie of his daughter’s wedding.
The film opens with the scene of the wedding of his daughter (the director’s), that he initially let others film it, but then he jumps into the crowd together with the other operators, among anxious video cameras and obsessive flashes.
It’s the first scene that introduces a sort of dreamlike vision of the reality. A bit in slow motion, a bit filtered. It is a scene that recalls the dream. While we are watching in fact, we are not sure this is reality. Maybe is Franco dreaming, I think. I get curious. It’s a Bellochio that I don’t know. While I am already visualizing Ettore Picciafuoco, from My mother’s smile, sitting on the red couch abandoned to the sleep, or at the computer ravished by shifty images. In fact, the majority of the staff belongs to the beautiful precedent movie.
Franco Elica is looking for an actress for his new movie based on the novel I promessi sposi (The Betrothed) by Alessandro Manzoni, 1840. He is looking for a Lucia Mondella, the main character, the pure, the honest and the wise young girl.
The whole story is quite surreal, typical from Marco Bellocchio. It’s the exasperation of the hope and of the tragedy of human nature, continuously conflicting with conventions. There is a Prince rich in intellectuality but poor in patrimony, obliged to give his daughter Bona as wife of a wealthy still idiot guy, victim of his family with no hope.
There is little princess Bona, the beauty hidden in a convent by her father, to prevent the beast, Franco Elica from kidnapping her before the salvation wedding. It is in fact a kind of transposition of I Promessi Sposi into a new era, or just into a new interpretation.
I don’t like to say it, but maybe there is also a Fellinian touch. The music, the processions, the bands, the street artists, the ingenuousness, the ridiculous simplicity of modern man.
Meanwhile we hear one of those distinctive phrases that get stuck into your head and will never leave “in Italia sono I morti che comandano – in Italy dead people rule the country”. He’s referring to artists, meaning that, only after you die you are recognized by the art authorities, otherwise is only a matter of convenient political choices. Even if, also respecting the deads is a conventional choice. So basically an artist in the need for recognition has short life…
Typical subtle subversive attitude from Bellocchio. I love his style, elegantly insolent like his Prince of Gravina, the charming Semy Frey.
Franco Elica, a never boring, even if repetitive, Sergio Castellitto. A movie director (in the movie) who can go beyond any rules. He can dare, because is an artist. Because an artist, recognized as an artist (popular, and apparently talented) can more or less do anything he wants. He can even transform a wedding movie into a sexy movie, nobody would criticize his job.
It’s the game of real us or conventional us. The perception of life through conventional filters, the acceptance of rules without reactions, the intoxication of feelings tied by our social needs.
However, Bellocchio gives us a chance, that small recommendation… dare to dream and you’ll be safe. Or just change perspective. Invert perspective. Subvert perspective. It’s not a luxury for artists only.
Marco Bellocchio can offer surreal situations but every single scene is dramatically real, or is the opposite. I don’t know. But the truth doesn’t change. Beautiful, elegant, sagacious, his movies are just delicious.
And… the symbols… the evocative names… the irony. And the setting… the details…