Political Films at Venice

in 60th Venice Film Festival

by Daniela Bisogni

Many Italian films focus on the controversial, still inexplicable recent past, tied to the Bel Paese’s hottest political history. Between them there are Good Morning, Night (Buongiorno, notte) by Marco Bellocchio and Secret File (Segreti di stato) by Paolo Benvenuti, two features presented at the 60th Venice official competition.

There are many ways of handling a political issue. Bellocchio and Benvenuti chose the two most common and opposite paths. Good Morning, Night recreates the atmospheres of the period, in 1978, when Aldo Moro, Italian former Minister of Internal Affairs, has been kidnapped and subsequently killed by young terrorist of the Red Brigades. Bellocchio is not interested to verify whether the real responsibles were the CIA or the KGB. He focuses rather on the internal and psychological struggle of the only one among the terrorists who had some doubts about the situation. It’s the same person (Anna Laura Braghetti, one of the real kidnappers) who had written the book Il prigioniero (The Prisoner) that inspired the movie. Only, Bellocchio willingly ‘betrayed the history’ because he just wanted to tell the story of a rebellion against a tremendous act, a deep personal change through a strong emotional experience. In real life Braghetti, two years after Moro, killed again: Vittorio Bachelet, a professor at the University of Political Sciences in Rome. Bellocchio’s terrorists seem like adolescents that don’t know exactly what they are doing, almost irresponsible, while people who remember do know that they were well determined and gave a very nasty public image.

Benvenuti preferred to follow thruthfully the reports of the 1951 trial against the Salvatore Giuliano gang, who was supposed to be responsible for the massacre of Portella della Ginestra (near Palermo) in 1947 (11 dead, 27 injured). The presumed reason: to discourage the Sicilian peasants to embrace the Communist party, at the occasion of a feast celebrating the election’s local winners. The main worry for Benvenuti was to question who were the real political responsibles, proposing a great bit of the huge investigation conducted on the carnage. But just exposing the facts, with many words and exhausting chats, can be boring for movie-audiences, that basically search for emotions. If it is true that he made this choice ‘not to take any position and to make the public think with their own mind’, he did not succed at all to remain impartial.

Better for Bellocchio, who choose a more personal way: you may like it or not, but he still created an involving drama, especially for those who lived that history.