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Marco Bellocchio • Director

Love, sacrifice and euthanasia


- Bella addormentata looks into a case which divided an entire country

Marco Bellocchio • Director

Marco Bellocchio revisits Eluana Englaro’s last six days in Bella addormentata [+see also:
film review
interview: Marco Bellocchio
film profile
, a film presented in competition at the Venice Film Festival. The case of Eluana, in a vegetative state for seventeen years, divided Italy and provoked civil and political battles.

Cineuropa: The film retraces the most dramatic moments of the Englaro case, almost as if it was a tale of collective psycho-drama.
Marco Bellocchio: The Englaro case was extensively covered by newspapers, television and internet. Meanwhile, in front of the clinic where the girl was taken to, there were very few people protesting and with just a handful of arguments and that was it. This while Italy was gearing up for the defense of its constitution on one side, and a run for a law that would block euthanasia on the other. In a kind of Griffith montage (two alternating but parallel actions which create a sense of expectancy), there was great anxiety, while the life of this poor girl was brought to its natural end.

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In the film, politicians are ironically defined as mentally ill.
There is no ill feeling towards politicians, rather I wanted to highlight their desperation and dismay. I have noticed a form of pathological inhumanity which I find more preoccupying than stealing or the wish to stay on a sofa. That is their desperation and they are unaware of it.

In the film you also bring to light a Catholic world which never doubts itself and gives little space to positions different from its own.
There was no strategic intention to tell the different positions on the Englaro case. I became passionate about a story in which people from the Catholic world were involved. My Catholic upbringing means that I know Catholics. Some things are impossible to erase, they remain in each of our souls. There is no equidistant position, wanting to tell a story objectively is a useless concept. I have some good rapports with a few Catholics, with whom there is space for confrontation, affection and exchange. And that was what I found interesting in the relationship between Michele Riondino and Alba Rohrwacher, because they are on opposite sides of the spectrum like Romeo and Juliet. They say to each other: we can love each other even if you have faith and I don’t.

One of the film’s themes was sacrifice and the fact that everyone depends on someone else.
Sacrifice is a seriously Catholic religious concept. I sacrifice my life, my happiness. We were educated on sacrifice and that spells trouble!

The film is being released in Italian cinemas just a few days after the death of Cardinal Martini who reopened the debate on euthanasia.
I am not cynical. Scandal in cinema no longer exists, because there are other ways to communicate which hit people first, like internet, and they cancel any possibility out. I have always tried to make good films using elements of scandal has never been iof great importance.

You scared the Friuli Venezia Giulia region so much that the Film Commission was destroyed in order to make sure the financing of the film ceased.
The commune of Udine collaborated with precision and attention. We filmed the outside of the clinic for a week and there never was any problem: no incidents and no citizens complaints. For reasons which I believe must be political, the region and the province, governed by centre-right parties, wanted to encourage a boycott a posteriori. The film received what I had expected. The grotesque thing, which shows a destructive side to the ruling class, was the abolition of the complete regional film commission, in the name some kind of political principal.

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