Cannes 2021, Marco Bellocchio: “Getting to the bottom of things, the only way to be free”

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Born asphyxiated and raised on formula milk. Baptized three times for a hell-obsessed mother. Insecure, confused and unable to ask brothers for help. Camillo is the family angel and the ghost with whom Marco Bellocchio he did the math all his life. Now he ends up at the center of a great psychoanalytic session that sees the director also present in the role of brother and puppeteer to move the threads of space and time.
Marco Bellocchio is the flagship of this 74th edition of the Cannes Film Festival, and to establish it is not only the touching Marx can wait, in Italian cinemas simultaneously with the world premiere as a special screening on the Croisette.

As a true performer, in three days the director also put together a masterclass lasting two and a half hours (instead of the sixty minutes scheduled) and today he will receive a prestigious award from Thierry Fremaux as the Palme d’Or of honor, previously assigned only to Clint Eastwood, Manuel De Oliveira, Francis Ford Coppola and Bernardo Bertolucci.
It is significant that he arrives with this surprising family accusation, this reinterpretation of history with a capital letter intertwined with the history of the small community of the Bellocchioes. A prodigious shoulder to respectability and the perfect image, with the discovery of a rigor that is equal only to the effort of living of all its members. Especially of Camillo, Marco’s twin who took his own life on December 27, 1968. A man closed in his sadness, in the confrontation with his brothers – who compared to him had made it – and with love for a a woman who does not understand if it made him happy or helped to plunge him into the abyss of distance. Also added to the fresco are Father Virgilio Fantuzzi, a Jesuit and film critic who died in 2019, and the psychiatrist Luigi Cancrini, representing the two tracks of Marco’s life: madness and Catholic education, both something from which he has always sought to get away.

A courageous gesture, to stage all the survivors and find out their reasons.
“I realized that if certain things didn’t reveal themselves deep down, my sanity and healing would be a chimera. This film is a long session with myself, in which I understood more deeply the essence of my brother’s story of our family ».

After fifty years, what pushed you towards such a personal and powerful cinematographic investigation?
“It wasn’t a morning idea, but a five-year process. The first step was a lunch in Piacenza at the Union club founded by my father, chosen to celebrate various birthdays ».

It is the opening scene of the film
At one point my nephew, Francesco, talks about his father and Camillo, calling him an “angel”. I understood that it would be the last chance to dig, to discover, to recognize something that was not just a tragedy of an unfortunate man ».

But a collective insensitivity
«Collective but in different ways, as we brothers were different, Tonino, Alberto, Giorgio and me. I also include my mother, while I keep my sisters out, who I believe are victims. ‘

In his The Hour of Religion makes Castellitto say “because my mother is stupid”.
“Today I wouldn’t say it, she had a terrible life in which she got tired, she never lived a true joy even though she always lived in comfort. This cancellation, this not seeing and above all not understanding… ».

Understanding seems like a fixation for you: with this film did you experience the difference between understanding and feeling?
“For this film, I use the word understand, meaning to feel. The suffering and the inner abysses of Camillo were greatly underestimated, of him it was said “he is a teacher of physical education, he has a steady job, he has made it”. Nobody understood it, nor felt it in depth ».

Things are not simple, in these cases.
«Just think about what you hear on TV in front of multiple murderers,“ he was a normal person… ”. Normality is difficult to establish, a young man who stabs a girl is often a bolt from the blue ».

The role of the envied brother was uncomfortable?
«Yes, but I have always taken into account my life, which was absolutely not happy despite having relevant results in terms of personal identity. And then Camillo was a capricious boy, he complained, and I admit that I always thought that that end was too great, or grandiose, for someone like him. Then I think about it, and his relationship with women had shadows. On the note left before committing suicide he wrote “I have also failed in love” ».

A letter that another brother destroyed because, on trial for quite different reasons, he was afraid it might harm him in some way. His children, Pier Giorgio and Elena, look astonished at this truth …
«They made me understand the gravity of that gesture, that not keeping traces. I remembered only one sentence, the one I mentioned earlier about women and the one with which Camillo asks to bring him a flower, when you pass by the cemetery of Bobbio. Elena kept repeating, “but how did you do it”? My brother tries to justify himself but it’s not possible ».

You brothers were all too busy with yourselves to “see” Camillo: what made you an unhappy person? «
(lower the volume of the voice, ed) «Not knowing how to live, a modesty in relationships with others. There is something missing, about which I don’t want to make moral judgments. The terrible character of Fists in his pocket, who was later defined as a kind of revolutionary, was someone who wanted to stay in his house, wanted to lead by eliminating useless people. A kind of cryptonazi ».

The reconstruction of these events is a kind of emotional journey that makes another aspect evident: his films have always been his way of telling us “you realize what I am experiencing”?
“This is the trace of a good conversation with an analyst.”

He called this film “free”.
«Usually even in the most successful things I reproach myself for a limit of freedom. It is as if everything tends to close itself, to represent itself in a classical way ».

Although you have left the province, Piacenza, for Rome?
«Yes, even if in my history they have counted many stages of rupture with the past, such as politics, and then analytical introspection. I made a radical choice that I do not deny ».

«I wanted a jolt, it wasn’t enough for me to lie down on a cot. I was looking for something stronger and in a way I had it, taking risks. My career was marked, I squandered everything for political reasons. At one point I said to my brother “I have to renew myself, I refuse my bourgeois identity” ».

Did he believe in these words?
“At the moment, yes, then I realized that it was wrong to cancel my identity that had to be reworked instead. If you go briefly with the Maoists they tell you that serving the people means that you have to wipe out your culture, and that you have to go to the school of the people and the party that represents them. Being out of tune with one’s past history has its own logic, but little by little I realized that they were words. It wasn’t like the cultural revolution, we were in Italy and I always tried to haggle. I remember that for the short time I was in the Union of Leninist Marxist Communists I had to donate my material goods to the people. I gave part of my salaries, but there were those who sold their house. Fortunately it took a long time for the bureaucracy, and the material damage was contained ».

Today he would recommend the analysis to a young man who is suffering?
«For a while I followed the Freudian one, I’m not saying it doesn’t do anything but something is missing for me. When I rode the great experience of collective analysis, leaving the individual one, I found deeper answers about my life, through the interpretation of dreams and the heretical experience of the analyst with whom I was friends and with whom there was a moment of work together. It was seen as irreparable damage, but it wasn’t. ‘

“They said that inculcating me with a series of images that weren’t mine ruined my identity. It may be acceptable on certain passages, but little by little I have resumed my experience ».

Was this heavy and looming religiosity just a means of trying to help your mother?
“I had faith and practiced for a rather limited time. But the mentality that religion has formed is still within me. Even that delicate, discreet way of treating others, of pitying them, of feeling more fortunate ».

The downsides?
“As a child, the plague of the Betrothed terrified me more than normal, the idea that that death could reach us too.”

Will this education not represent that sense of closure of the horizons that you mentioned earlier and that haunts you?
“I wondered where the blasphemy of The hour of religion, pitied by her luckier brother. It is a fury, a rage against hypocrisy, something that was instilled in us and that was not true ».

In Marx can wait her sister Letizia says she would like to see relatives gathered, not god.
“She is quite pagan. And for the first time, at ninety and deaf and dumb, he wanted to speak. An absolute novelty, he also said witty and profound things ».

Who would you like to see again, if you could?
“I’d like to see my brother again, and the end of the film indicates that. It is the only fiction, that actor wearing the same suit Camillo wore ».

What would she say to him if she could meet him again?
«Here we enter the poetic dimension, as when Pascoli imagines meeting his mother. For now I have come this far, now let’s see where I will go ».

At what point are the filming of Exterior Night?
“We are about to conclude this series on the kidnapping and murder of Aldo Moro, in some way the counter-field of Good morning night, all set outside the tragedy. For me it is a first experience, then we will see, there are films at stake but… ».

“I think even if you are of a certain age you shouldn’t be in a hurry. I have colleagues who jump into it because they feel life is slipping away, I prefer to do what I can and do it well ».

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