Kidnapped, Marco Bellocchio recounts the end of the temporal power. The movie review

“Non possumus” (“We cannot”), in principle it should have been called that Kidnapped, the film by Marco Bellocchio which arrives in cinemas from Thursday 25 May. And from that locution born from the phrase that the apostles Peter and John would have uttered when asking them not to preach the Gospel immediately after the death of Christ, the clash narrated by the film originates. Presented in competition at the Cannes Film Festival, a feature film that in just over two hours with skill and emotion tells a fundamental period in the history of Italy through a personal story. Between Catholicism and Judaism, between doubt and faith, a necessary and powerful work.

Kidnappedthe plot of the film by Marco Bellocchio

It is June 23, 1858, we are in the Jewish quarter of Bologna. The papal gendarmerie breaks into the home of the Mortara family. By order of the cardinal, they have gone to get Edgardo, their seven-year-old son. According to the statements of a maid Anna Morisi, believed to be on the verge of death, at six months old, the child had been baptized in secret. Papal law is final: the child must receive a Catholic education. Edgardo’s parents, Salomone Momolo Mortara and his wife Marianna Padovani shocked, will do everything to get their son back. Supported by public opinion and by the international Jewish community, the battle of the Mortaras soon took on a political dimension. But Pope Pius IX refuses to return the boy. As Edgardo grows in the Catholic faith, the temporal power of the Church comes to an end. On 20 September 1870, the Bersaglieri of the IV Army Corps, under General Raffaele Cadorna, entered Rome through the breach of Porta Pia and occupied the city which was to become the capital of the Kingdom of Italy.

Marco Bellocchio, talent has no age

In cinema, age doesn’t matter if you still have something to say and above all if you have the talent to express it. Once again Marco Bellocchio, despite his 83 years, proves to be one of the most original and energetic filmmakers on the world scene. After the magnificent outside night, the director recounts another kidnapping that actually took place. In the surprising Mephisto by Ivan Szabó (Oscar winner in 1981 for best film) the prime minister says to the protagonist “Do you feel the weight of history?”. And Bellocchio, a new Atlas, takes on the burden of a complex tragic and disturbing event to transfigure it into a work of art. Thanks to the almost material emotion of Francesco Di Giacomo’s photography, which refers to Italian Risorgimento painting, but also to the famous painting by Moritz Daniel Oppenheim The kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara, the film illuminates a dark episode of our past to tell us about our present.

Paolo Pierobon and a cast in a state of grace

It’s not easy to bring a story like that of the Mortara case to the big screen. And it is no coincidence that Steven Spielberg has decided to abandon this project. Not to mention that we are talking about a historical period often and willingly told by the films signed by Luigi Magni and also by Mario Monicelli in The Marquis of Grillo. However, Looker skilfully avoids the traps of sketching and caricature. The only caricatures in the film are those of the newspapers and prints of the time aimed at mocking the pontiff’s attitude. And again, after outside night, the choice of the cast turns out to be very happy. Starting with Paolo Pierobon. His interpretation of Pope Pius IX is applause on stage. After Silvio Berlusconi in the TV series 1993 and 1994 and the Nazi criminal Adolf Eichman, in the play Where does theto Night, the actor demonstrates all his immense talent in capturing the infinite and complex nuances of controversial and borderline characters, without ever reducing them to running silhouettes. The performances of Barbara Ronchi (awarded at the David di Donatello for September) as Mariann Mortara, Fabrizio Gifuni as the Dominican inquisitor Pier Gaetano Feletti, Filippo Timi as Cardinal Antonelli and Leonardo Maltese. The latter after a dazzling debut in the lord of the ants offers us a poignant portrait of Edgardo. Note of merit for Paolo Calabresi, who demonstrates that he knows how to successfully step into a dramatic role as well.

kidnapped, a great example of auteur cinema

Freely inspired by the book “The Mortara case” by Daniele Scalise, Mondadori editions, Kidnapped it is the demonstration that even in Italy it is possible to make free, intrepid and unapproved films. Ça va sans dire it is necessary that in the control room there is an authentic author who doesn’t care about fashions and algorithms. A filmmaker capable of directing children and interpreting history, without limiting himself to photocopying it. Between Latin and Hebrew, the perpetual conflict between church and state, the conditioning imposed by religion, the detachment from the family come together in a fresco in front of which it is impossible to remain indifferent. A film that raises doubts and asks questions, but without ever taking the lead. This is what happens when you watch authentic auteur cinema.