At the end of January, the city center of Bologna is turned upside down. Insurgents flutter their top hats to cries of “Down with the Pope! » With a keen eye and a smirk, despite his 83 years, Marco Bellocchio is filming the final scene of his new feature film there, a period film slated for the next Cannes Film Festival.
The last time we had met him was eight months earlier, on the Croisette. Same enthusiasm, coupled with the same uneasiness. The filmmaker presented his very first series, Esterno note, in the Cannes Première section. Arte, which co-produced it, has been broadcasting the six episodes since March 8. Its title echoes Buongiorno, note (2003), the feature film that Bellocchio had devoted to the kidnapping and assassination by the Red Brigades of the president of Christian Democracy, Aldo Moro, from March 16 to May 9, 1978.
Why return to this tragedy which shook Italian political life? “ When I start a project, I always start with images: I need to experience an immediate, almost physical relationship with the subject, he confided to Worldin Cannes, in May 2022. Reviewing photos of Moro with family or in front of the crowd, published on the fortieth anniversary of his death, in 2018, stirred me. This time, I wanted to film the abduction not from the inside, as in Buongiorno, note, but from outside (“esterno” in Italian). The dramaturgy proceeds from the various attempts implemented to free it. That of his friend, interior minister Francesco Cossiga; that of Pope Paul VI; that of a couple of dissident brigadists; and that of his wife. They all failed. The film, sorry the series – I don’t know what to call it anymore – lives on these four failures. »
Set with a prologue and an epilogue, these four attempts each form the framework of an episode in its own right. “ We quickly understood, by opting for such a broad narrative, that it could not not be a series »continues the one who says he appreciated, in this matter, Our best years, The New Pope Or Ghosts. “We respected certain rules of the genre: permanent tension, chronological flashbacks at the start of each episode…”
Twenty years ago, Bellocchio dedicated Buongiorno, note in memory of his father. He turned Esterno note in the wake of Marx can wait (2021), a documentary returning to the suicide, in 1968, of his twin brother, Camillo, also unveiled at Cannes.
It is because, with the Italian, the intimate commerce ceaselessly with politics: “In 1978, I was in Rome when Moro was kidnapped. I never imagined that the brigadists would go so far as to kill him after fifty-five days of captivity. His death left me stunned, bewildered. Ten years earlier, I had likewise failed to foresee that my brother would end his life. This lack of sensitivity, of intuition, this inability to understand certain destinies has been the driving force behind the documentary as well as the series.. »
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