Nazi horrors through eyes of little girl
by Pedro Armocida
- A moving tribute to a dramatic chapter in Italian history and a double award-winner (by audiences and the jury) at last year's Rome Film Festival
A woman’s swollen, hard belly. "What do you have in your belly?", "Are you expecting a baby?", repeat continuously, obsessively, the children of Monte Sole, the hills just a few kilometres from Bologna. In a church, an image of the pregnant Madonna.
She is expecting The Man Who Will Come [+see also:
interview: Giorgio Diritti
film profile], the title of the impressive film by Giorgio Diritti, double award-winner (by audiences and the jury) at at the Rome Film Festival 2009.
All around them, the Emilia mountains with its millennia-old rhythms. As well as the cold of December 1943, during WWII. When the Allies were still in southern Italy. But what does little Martina – eight years old and mute because of the trauma of seeing her little brother die shortly before – know of all this?
It is through her eyes, however, that the director carves out raw and often unbearable (for the eyes and hearts of the viewers, as only great cinema can do) portraits of war “from below, from the perspective of those who are subjected to it and find themselves nevertheless involved in the significant events of history that seem to forget the lives of men.” The typical astonishment of a little girl thus becomes an articulate accusation of the insanity of the adults’ behaviour.
"The most vile slaughter of a people," said poet Salvatore Quasimodo of the heinous Marzabotto massacre, in which Nazi troops killed over 800 civilians, most of them women, children and the elderly. Because the men were hiding in the woods and mountains – to find nothing left upon their return, like main character Armando (Claudio Casadio).
With the formal rigour previously seen in surprising debut The Wind Blows Round [+see also:
film profile], Diritti has made a masterly film, thanks also to the his philological use of sound, music and the dialect of the place in which the film is set. The actress in particular are also superb – above all the young Greta Zuccheri Montanari, as well as Alba Rohrwacher and Maya Sansa – and there is at least one textbook scene (of children with their arms raised in surrender).
The Man Who Will Come was produced by Arancia Film and RAI Cinema with support from the MEDIA Programme and the Ministry of Culture, participation from the Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio in Bologna, and backing from the Tuscan Region and Tuscan Film Commission, the Emilia-Romagna Region and the Cinematheque of Bologna.