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Marco Bellocchio

The prize will be presented to Marco Belloccio at the occasion of the European Film Awards Ceremony on December 6, 2003, in Berlin.

European Film Academy
Critics Award 2003 – Prix FIPRESCI

Marco Bellocchio
By Michel Ciment

Buongiorno, notte
Buongiorno, notte
Buongiorno, notte
Buongiorno, notte
Buongiorno, notte
Buongiorno, notte
Buongiorno, notte

Among artists the filmmaker is the one who faces the greatest number of obstacles to achieve a coherent line of creation, to pursue his path while remaining fresh and innovative. There are the sheer physical efforts, the economic contingencies, the contact that has to be kept with the reality around him. By giving its prize of the »Best European Film Of The Year« to Marco Bellocchio's »Buongiorno, notte«, the FIPRESCI wants to single out not only a masterwork, one of the best of its author, but also an outstanding filmography which goes back to 1965 and comprises more than twenty films.

With Bernardo Bertolucci, Marco Bellocchio has been the leading Italian director of his generation. Both were born in the province of Emilia, the first in Parma, the second in Piacenza, two rival towns. Both have been dealing with politics and the family, but Bellocchio was the first postwar Italian director who did not have a debt towards neo-realism. His early films, already supreme achievements, such as »I pugni in tasca« or »Nel nome del padre« owed much more to Buñuel and expressionism than to Rossellini.

If Bellocchio studied first at the Centro Sperimentale in 1960-1962, he followed later in the mid-sixties the courses of the Slade School of Fine Arts in London. A contemporary of the British angry young men, he was also a rebel himself and many of his films are controversial and vigorous indictments of various institutions: the family in »I pugni in tasca«, local politics in »La cina è vicina«, the school in »Nel nome del padre«, the media in »Sbatti il mostro in prima pagina«, the mental hospital in »Matti da slegare«, the army in »Marcia trionfale«. His nervous energy, his intensity, his fierce humour have distinguished him among his contemporaries and his iconoclastic spirit has brought him strong attacks from the church and the state authorities.

But Bellocchio has never opted for easy schematic conclusions, his interest in psychoanalysis having persuaded him to take into account the depths of the human mind. As extreme left-wing activist in his youth he could nevertheless state as early as 1971 "those who regard themselves as revolutionaries in the name of science and progress are often no less dangerous than the forces of reaction they seek to defeat".

If »Salto nel vuoto« and »Gli occhi, la bocca« in the early 80's have brilliantly further explored the themes of his earlier films, it seems that Bellocchio had to go through a return to the classics and to a more classic style with »Il gabbiano« (Chekhov), »Enrico IV« (Pirandello), »Il diavolo in corpo« (Radiguet), »Il principe di Homburg« (Kleist) and »La Balia« (Pirandello) to find back his more personal inspiration and proceed with new daring works, »L'ora di religione« and »Buongiorno notte« which express the complexity of his world view. Those two masterpieces can be seen as twin works, the first dealing with the church and the image of the mother, the second with terrorism and the image of the father as exemplified by Aldo Moro and his kidnappers.

»Buongiorno notte« - with the help of Pasquale Mari, the brilliant cinematographer who also lit »L'ora di religione« plunges us into the nightmarish atmosphere of the lead years - inspired by an Emily Dickinson poem:

   Good morning – Midnight
   I'm coming home -
   Day – got tired of me
   How could I – of him.

»Buongiorno notte« by its very title suggests the contrasts and the contradictions which are at stake in this film. Dedicated to the director's father who died when he was a child, played by his son, it never tends to a complacent narcissistic point of view, but fuses the collective and the individual to express the problems that our society faced then and is facing now. Confronted with the chaos of our modern world, Bellocchio as a moralist and a poet explores the many layers of reality as well as its surreal dimensions to make us better understand the tragic absurdities of life.

Michel Ciment
© FIPRESCI 2003


Buongiorno, notte.
Directed by Marco Bellocchio. Script: Marco Bellocchio. Cinematography: Pasquale Mari. Art Direction: Marco Dentici. Editing: Francesca Calvelli. Sound: Gaetano Carito, Fabio Cerretti, Emanuela Di Giunta. Music: Riccardo Giagni, Costumes: Sergio Ballo. Cast: Maya Sansa, Luigi Lo Cascio, Pier Giorgio Bellocchio, Giovanni Calcagno, Paolo Briguglia, Roberto Herlitzka. Producers: Marco Bellocchio, Sergio Pelone. Production: Filmalbatros. Co-Production: Rai Cinema, in collaborazione con Sky.

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