"I explored the light and shadows of an Italian mystery"
by Camillo de Marco
- Relating the dark nature of power, through a presentation not merely of the facts but emotions as well. Like Elio Petri and Francesco Rosi before him
"Italy is characterised by the secret nature of a power that persists, for much less transparency than other Western countries,” says Paolo Sorrentino. According to the director (and many others), the secret nature of power is contained in Senator Giulio Andreotti, who was prime minister of Italy on seven separate occasions from 1972 to 1992. "There is no one more vivid than him," says Sorrentino, who dedicated to Andreotti his fourth film, Il Divo [+see also:
interview: Nicola Giuliano
interview: Paolo Sorrentino
interview: Philippe Desandre
film profile], winner of the Jury Prize at Cannes 2008.
Given the subject matter, it was not easy to produce the film, especially without turning to the Medusa/RAI Cinema duopoly. Says producer Andrea Occhipinti: "Sorrentino is one of the most interesting directors at the moment. Everyone wants to co-produce one of his films. But after reading this screenplay they disappeared. As did product placement".
Cineuropa: Had you wanted to make a film about Andreotti for a long time?
I wanted to make this film forever, but I thought it was an unfeasible project – and it was. For the screenplay, I just had to choose from the immense mass of material about Andreotti, thousands articles and books. I managed to do so in the end. I studied his personal characteristics and included them in their contradictions. Andreotti always fostered the mystery around him, but he also managed to gain credit with many Italians as a good father. I wanted to avoid clichés, good or bad, and to depict the well-rounded character, exploring the light and shadows. And human traits emerged besides his great cynicism.
How did Andreotti react to the film?
He was angry. And this is huge, because he’s known for his imperturbability to criticism. He let loose and said what he thought. Which confirms the power of cinema, that it doesn’t only deal with representing facts but is also emotional.
Can the film serve to speak about a certain way of conducting politics?
It would be nice if people spoke about it as cinema first and foremost, and did not allow the political aspect to get the upper hand. But it is also necessary to reopen dark chapters in Italian political life that were never truly closed.
For its subject matter and satirical tones, the film is reminiscent of some Italian films of the 1960s and 70s.
Elio Petri and Francesco Rosi. Especially Petri, Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion and Todo Modo. I looked at the originality of his cinematic language.
You used a very efficient language, that is at times surrealist.
In order to depict many years of Italian history, and condense them, I realized I had to be work with abstractions; purely at the service of the narration, not tied to the desire to shot surreal images.