Thursday, April 07, 2011

L'uomo che verrà

It is as simple as a Daudet tale and it is as touching as the silent moonlight is: with a surprising sincerity even when the subject is Nazi devastation, avoiding rhetoric and background music scores that seek to put a story in relief, and treating children more like adults, L'uomo che verrà (int'l title: The Man Who Will Come) is first and foremost a story that desires respect for being story, for being truth: references can be dispensed with, even the actual Marzabotto massacre on which the film is based. If you've liked Hollywood and Polanski, you will not like this film: insincerity, pomp and loud activism find not a single echo here. If you love Tarkosvkiy and have asked yourself the question what can make a man so cruel, you will want to watch this film.

Education? That is the central question of the film: can it immunize a man to everything, and all the morals and all the conscience are only an education, a conditioning we have been born bathed in? Goring a human flesh and using a woman as your lover as good as it lasts: is there something wrong in it? Is it only yet another argument to justify cruelty, or is there no cruelty but in the head, in the imagination, in the fulfilment of the Other's desire through you? People want to be humane, as they are expected to behave so; they can easily want to be efficient killers, if they are started being expected to behave so? Where does desire get born? In yourself or in the Other? And yet, sometimes a shooting squad member will falter, a boy's blue uncomprehending eyes will ask him strange questions: is it simply that he was too grounded in his earlier education of morals and stuff? Those blue eyes, they don't trouble the other serial killer, after all. Shouldn't the blue eyes trouble every potential killer so as to prove an absolute?

In a very different way, the film raises almost the same questions as Tarkovskiy's beautiful Andrei Rublev raises, most notably during the Tatar raid in Rublev: an almost Salvador Dali-esque sequence, but instead of laughing in its face more intent on asking and asking. Beautifully shot, parts of the film will remind you of that yet another great movie, L'albero degli zoccoli; the grinding poverty of an Italian village and the dominant Catholic influence (absent in present-day Italy) do not serve to pigeonhole the film in an epoch, but only mark the universality of man's material concerns: food for himself and for his horse, clothes and marriage. A son, a daughter. Like many other Italian films, the film does not employ actors quite known, except Maya Sensa, who slips into her quiet role very efficiently; editing is not fancy but simple, and the film slowly lurches from grim monotony to shocking barbarity: just like it would have been for the inhabitants of Marzabotto. Disbelief. No, this can't be possible. Surely, not the church? Surely, not the women and children? Surely, not the priest?

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