From 2012 Rome’s International Film Festival: L’Isola Dell’Angello Caduto – The Island of the Fallen Angel (Carlo Lucarelli – 2012)

Waiting for first screening of “L’isola dell’angelo caduto” by Carlo Lucarelli @ Rome Film Festival.

From the rich program of the festival, I picked the debut film of director Carlo Lucarelli, famous for his TV documentary series about crime: Blu notte misteri d’Italia.

The name of the film derives from an ancient story that when God chased away Lucifer he dropped on that island. And true to Lucarelli’s genre expertise, this film offers a suspense-laden plot centered on a police officer and his wife arriving on the island during 1925. It’s an invented island – island as a concept – as we are not told exactly its exact location. The timeline focuses around 5 critical days, where strange murders start happening that create a tension between the police officer and the black-shirt fascist commander that is managing the island prison full of anti-fascist intellectuals.

The police officer (Giampaolo Morelli)and his wife (Sara Sartini) are sent from the mainland to this excluded environment and in that sense are trapped the same way as the island prisoners. Later we learned that this mission was not an accident, it has to do with past events the stubborn, justice-seeking police officer was involved in. The film uses a jovial song the suffering officer’s wife keeps playing as way to escape from the dour realities of the island.

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Director and cast sharing their impressions on the red carpet (in Italian)

There is also the military doctor played by Giuseppe Cederna, that I immediately associated with his role (piccolo Farina) in 1991’s Gabriele Salvatores’ Mediterraeneo; same fascist period, same settings of soldiers stranded on a forsaken island, but with one big difference. Whereas this film is anchored around mystery (aka giallo) with protagonists doing their best to escape from the island, Mediterraeno explored the concept of escape to the island and idled along depicting the daydreaming activities of the soldiers and their interactions with island natives. In this film most interactions are strictly between the island forced guests: the police officer, the fascists stationed there, the military doctor and others.

Inline with the film focus to resolve the unexplained murders, the soundtrack offers amalgam of disturbing sound effects that makes you believe the next scene will reveal the true motive behind the crimes.

The film leverages the gap between the need of a newcomer sent to command a foreign environment and the local norms that operate against him. A similar premise was used in Pietro Germi’s 1949 In Nome della legge – in the name of the Law. In both cases the newcomer after several clashes with local forces decides to stay and keep his integrity instead of conformism that comes with comfort.

From this aspect, we hear the comforting words of the police officer to his wife on their first day and a year after promising that one day they’ll leave the island, but as the film matures we know these are vacant promises. Integrity won!

By Shlomi Ron

Visual marketing guy with a penchant for fine Italian cinema.

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