Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Film Fest: A Troll Through Italian Politics

Wow, what an amazing work of cinematography.

After an action packed montage of murder and assassination in the first minute, the director, Paolo Sorrenttino, settles in and paints a hundred masterpieces - beautiful, evocative settings of palaces, Italian streets, scenes, etc. Then, in the center of every masterpiece, he has placed an odd, unattractive, phlegmatic gnome wearing a business suit.

The movie chronicles the career of seven-time Italian Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti. Beginning in 1947, Andreotti and his Christian Democrat party ruled Italy for 44 years, until a series of scandals called “Bribesville” finally got them off stage. Andreotti has been constantly rumored to have been behind all sorts of illegal activities, including Mafia connections.

The story and the players in this long-playing Italian drama are common ground for Europeans, especially Italians. Unfortunately for most of Americans, we must have been taking a long nap. He is one weird dude, sort of like a sphinx. I am sad to report that despite spending several years teaching government and history in Ohio high schools, I never heard of Andreotti or the juicy scandal.

We loved our trials of the century: O.J. and President Clinton’s impeachment, but most Americans never heard of “Bribesville.” This really hurts on two levels; we realized we missed a great, scandalous, potboiler of a trial, and we do not know what in the hell is going on in this movie.

The craftsmanship is outstanding, a wonderful lesson for any film fanatic. However, if you are not up to date on Italian politics, the blizzard of names, political parties and past crimes will irritate you. My suggestion is to do some research on recent Italian politics before you see the film; an hour or so in the library or on the computer will help. This sequence works much better than what I did, watch ll Divo and then do to the research.
— Bob Carson
Friday, March 27, 11:35 a.m.; Saturday, March 28, 6:45 p.m. Italy, France, Subtitles, 117 minutes

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