Blood of Mine

in 72nd Venice International Film Festival

by Ninos Feneck Mikelides

Catholicism, hypocrisy, true faith, the thirst for power, and the consequences of globalization for Italian society are among the major themes of Marco Bellocchio’s excellent film Blood of My Blood (Sangue de mio sangue), in competition at this year’s festival. The film is made up of two different stories; the first (“The Nun”) is a reworking of the Monza story. It unfolds in the 17th century, in the old prisons of Bobbio which are part of a monastery, the town where Bellocchio was born and raised – it is also where he shot his first film, Fists in the Pocket (1965). A young nun is tortured, accused of using black magic to seduce a novice monk and drive him to suicide.

The second story, which gives the film its title, takes place in recent times, in the same town of Bobbio, where a man who claims to be from the tax office arrives with a Russian millionaire. The millionaire intends to buy the now ruined monastery where, as we soon find out, a local enigmatic Count is hiding, regarded by the townsfolk as a vampire who roams the streets at night. The presence of the two new arrivals will create turmoil, since the inhabitants have been organized by the dignitaries as well as the workers to hoodwink the state and the revenue office with skullduggery and fraud.

The film has a tight, dense, well-written (by Bellocchio himself) script and lots of humor, especially in the second part, where one of the best scenes involves a discussion between the count and a dentist, about old methods and the changes brought about by new technologies. Bellocchio interlocks the two stories with ease, giving special attention to the composition of each frame. With an instinctive sense of pace and an excellent cast who give their all (most of them, including the director’s son, have appeared in his other films), Bellocchio has made an exciting, beautiful film, a comment on current Italian society and the vampiric hold of power on the common people. Blood of My Blood is indisputably one of the festival’s best films.

Edited by Lesley Chow