A tiny army under the microscope in L'esercito più piccolo del mondo
by Camillo De Marco
- VENICE 2015: Gianfranco Pannone gives us a secular glimpse into the life of the Swiss Guard in a Church that is undergoing a transformation under Pope Francis
You don’t often get the chance to see a film produced by the Vatican City. But we do now, with L'esercito più piccolo del mondo [+see also:
film profile] (lit. “The Smallest Army in the World”), a documentary on the Swiss Guard – screening out of competition at the Venice Film Festival – which CTV – Centro Televisivo Vaticano asked director Gianfranco Pannone to make, as a co-production with Solares Fondazione delle Arti, Solares Suisse and PTS Art's Factory.
"I enjoyed total freedom while I was shooting," the director of Latina/Littoria and On the Volcano [+see also:
film profile] explains to Cineuropa. "They wanted it to take a secular look, from an arthouse perspective, which would depict these young people in all their humanity, taking it beyond the stereotype of the stiff soldier wearing clothes and a suit of armour from the sixth century."
In order to give this "behind the scenes" view of the Vatican in the days of Pope Francis, Pannone chose to focus on a number of young new recruits hailing from deepest Switzerland. Leo is an unpretentious guy who is a woodsman back home, but who is happy to be taking part in this experience in the chaotic Eternal City. René, on the other hand, is a theology student from the canton of Aargau, a young intellectual who wonders about his faith and his own role, and who tries to come up with an answer to the reasons behind this choice.
The Pope, who we meet fleetingly several times during the movie, has not yet seen the film. "I hope he sees it; I’d be curious to know what he makes of it," concludes the director.
(Translated from Italian)