Kidnapped: review of the film by Marco Bellocchio – Cannes 76
After the Golden Palm for Lifetime Achievement in 2021 and the many participations (from The traitor And WINjust to mention the latest in competition, or Night exterior And Marx can waitin Cannes Premiere), Mark Bellocchio choose the again Cannes Film Festival For present his latest work. And Thierry Frémaux chooses our director again, this time in the most important section with the Kidnapped that 01 Distribution brings to the cinema from 25 May. A true story, told in a unique way also thanks to the masterful interpretations of a perfect cast in which Pope Pius IX of Paolo Pierobon, Fausto Russo Alesi, Barbara Ronchi, Philip Timi and the Best Actor of the David di Donatello 2023, Fabrizio Gifuni.
Kidnapped: the true story of many Italian Jews
The little Enea Sala and Leonardo Maltese, once he grew up, give life to the Bolognese Edgardo Mortara, a Jewish boy who in 1858 was torn away from his family to be raised as a Catholic under the custody of Pope Pius IX. An international case extensively treated – as well as the many analogues – by David I. Kertzer, Marina Caffiero or Vittorio Messori (in I, the Jewish child kidnapped by Pius IX – unpublished memoir of the protagonist of the “Mortara Case”), as well as of course in “The Mortara Case” by Daniele Scalise, who freely inspired the director and Susanna Nicchiarelli for the screenplay, drawn up with the collaboration of Edoardo Albinati, Daniela Ceselli and the historical consultancy of Pina Totaro.
It all begins in the Jewish quarter of Bologna, when the Pope’s soldiers arrive at the home of the Mortara family to take away little seven-year-old Edgardo. Fearing for his life, at the age of six months, the then maid had secretly baptized him and years later the canon law of the Papal States requires that the boy receive a Catholic education and be raised by the Vatican. It is the beginning of a legal and political battle, which does not even end with the decline of the temporal power of the Church for the conquest of Rome on 20 September 1870.
The unique and powerful story of Marco Bellocchio
The technical component is important in the story he tells Mark Bellocchio of the story by Edgardo Mortara, but once again it is the gaze of the director of Bobbio that makes the final result that arrives on the big screen unique. As always, his ability to harmonize objective data, narrative and dreamlike suggestions gives a personal and recognizable film, capable of polarizing the audience’s gaze while representing the humanity of the subjects involved. Unique and powerful, thanks also to the decisive participation of the photography of Francesco Di Giacomo, the scenography of Andrea Castorina, the costumes of Sergio Ballo and Daria Calvelli or the music of Fabio Massimo Capogrosso, called in many cases to take charge of a non-secondary subtext .
The alternation of optics makes the Vatican environments in which the drama of Edgardo and the Mortara family unfold even more majestic and distorted, a suffocating grandeur that the dramatic crescendos of the musical score make even more oppressive. Forcing the little kidnapped Jew to take refuge in fantasy and in a very personal relationship with the Christ to whom he is forced to pay continuous homage. Confused, fascinated, curious, in the man nailed to the cross the child almost sees a companion in misfortune, to be helped, as no one seems to want – or be able – to help him.
Something that unites him to Pius IX of an incredible Pierobon, another figure that is neither reassuring nor linear. A threatening and violent Pope (as the delegation of the Roman Jewish community led by knows Paolo Calabresimocked and blackmailed), yet forced to fight with his being Pope King, albeit sick and visionary in his own way, to maintain control over his own people, even at the cost of humiliating ‘lessons’ (such as the one imparted to the awkward Edgardo, by now raised and very faithful).
In the opera Kidnapped Of Looker empathy and horror, emotion and sacred fear coexist, apparently inseparable components of a complex reality, not simple even for the most partisan, which such a divisive theme will surely call into question. Further proof is the staging – very successful and effective – in parallel of rites and penances, both of the reunited Jewish family and of the icy official of Fabrizio Gifuni, capable of making the Dominican friar Pier Gaetano Feletti, inquisitor in the exercise of his functions, even more inhuman. But above all of the alternation of different faces and liturgies of the ecclesiastical trial and of the boy’s confirmation which sanction the definitive defeat on the part of the family.
The discovery of the maidservant’s real motivations behind the kidnapping and the deaf presumption of the Vatican institution are ‘details’ that will make everything even more unacceptable to the modern spectator, but more than the invitation to contextualize repeated several times by the director and actors, it is the same final to create an anomalous suspension. Bellocchio’s fervid visual imagination – as already in Good morning, night and elsewhere – leaves a door open between dream and news. And the doubt – even if in a scene perhaps too confused and contradictory – of a more tormented soul than it must have been, given the final notes on the story of the adult Mortara, who died in the monastery at the age of ninety after a life as a missionary.