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Here he took his first steps towards his first big adventure in the world of cinema, as a young student of the Slade School of Fine Arts, in 1963-64. At that time he started writing what will become one of the most sensational debuts in history of cinema, Fists in the Pocket. Now Marco Bellocchio is back to London with his whole work, for his first complete retrospective organized by the British Film Institute, the most important and prestigious institution of national cinema. “Satire and Morality: the Cinema of Marco Bellocchio” will be held from July 1 to 31, and is organized by Istituto Luce Cinecittà, BFI, Italian Institute of Culture, in collaboration with the Salle Lumière, curated by Adrian Wootton, General Manager of Film London.

It’s an evocative return for Marco Bellocchio to those places where he first imagined his extraordinary debut, one that anticipated the ’68 movement by demolishing notions of family, religion, and middle class. It’s a more than rare invitation for a contemporary Italian filmmaker, who will be honored with a whole month of excellent screenings in front of one of the best audiences of the continent. It’s a chance for the British audience to rediscover the work of one of the biggest European auteurs. And for Italian cinema, it’s an opportunity to show one of its more significant milestones. For this occasion, Istituto Luce Cinecittà has digitalized four features, under the supervision of Beppe Lanci, the great cinematographer of Bellocchio’s work: Devil in the Flesh, The Conviction, The Prince of Homburg, The Nanny. In this way, most of Bellocchio’s work has now been digitalized, and an invaluable artistic heritage has been saved from an irreversible deterioration.

Regarding the program, the retrospective opens with Fists in the Pocket on June 23. The screening will be followed by a Q&A with the director. Another key event will take place on July 9, when Adrian Wootton, a scholar of Italian cinema, delivers a lecture on Bellocchio’s work, moving from key themes such as politics, Catholicism, moral, and literary influences. The London audience will have the chance to see again well-known films such as China Is Near, Leap into the Void, and Vincere; and to discover other masterpieces from a unique career. It’ll be easy for them to track those themes which made Bellocchio so famous internationally: the radiographic observation of the family, political commitment not as simple rhetoric but as a visceral and contradictory act, the psychoanalysis, an iconoclastic view on life, his unique way of turning History into something visionary, daily life into a metaphor, politics into a personal drive.

It will be interesting to see how the British audience will react to this cinema which is always veined by a subtle sense of fun; films that provoke our soul and our eyes with a biting and sometime irresistible humor on our hypocrisies, easy shortcuts, social charades. The title of the retrospective, “Satire and Morality”, perfectly captures this blend of commitment and sense of humor. And maybe Bellocchio’s experience as a young man at the School of Fine Arts tinged his humor of a British touch, which is now opening the door of Southbank to one of the most visionary and sensual directors working in Europe today.

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