With The Kidnapping and the documentary “Marx Can Wait“, Marco Bellocchio completes a rich filmography of great stories and intimate dramas.
With “The Abduction”, filmmaker Marco Bellocchio once again turns his attention to a dark episode in Italian history. The year is 1853, in Bologna. Men from the Vatican burst into the home of a Jewish family. Their objective, on the orders of the cardinal, is to take with them a six-year-old child who had been secretly baptised a few years ago by a Catholic maid who believed him to be dying. The child is taken to the Vatican, where he is pampered by Pope Pius IX, while his parents do everything in their power to get him back. Beyond the story of the kidnapping, Marco Bellocchio’s The Kidnapping is a portrait of an era – Italy was only a few years away from unification, and the Church was trying everything to maintain its power in the face of its irremediable decline. “The Abduction” is, of course, a very classic period film in its form- – even if Bellocchio, like no other, recreates the almost decadent pomp of a secular institution that refuses to see the world change. With this new feature, the 83-year-old filmmaker spares no effort in criticising the Church as profoundly anti-Semitic, inward-looking, rotten from within and impervious to any questioning. This is not the first time Bellocchio has attacked Catholicism. In 2002, “Le Sourire de ma mère” (My Mother’s Smile) – the story of an atheist artist confronted with the hypocrisy of his family’s desire to have his mother canonised – was banned by the Vatican.
Film after film, Marco Bellocchio composes an intimate portrait of Italy, recounting personal dramas that echo history. “In Le Traitre” (2019), the director recounts the 1980s, and the drug war within the Sicilian mafia, through the portrait of a repentant former boss. “Buongiorno, notte” (2003) and its sequel, the “Esterno notte”series (2022), evoke the Italy’s years of lead. And with “Vincere” (2009), the story of fascism is told through the portrait of Mussolini’s mistress and their illegitimate son. But in recent years, Marco Bellocchio has turned his attention to another, more personal story. A forgotten story, an absence: that of his twin brother, Camillo, who died in 1968. “Marx Can Wait”, finally available in France, is a film in a class of its own in Bellocchio’s oeuvre. A documentary of archives and memories, the portrait of a ghost, of a story that could never be written. The film of a man unafraid to confront the past with the present.
“The Abduction” and “Marx Can Wait” by Marco Bellocchio, in cinemas from November 1