by Camillo De Marco
- Christian Carmosino Mereu's documentary warns against conflict and pays tribute to those who died in the unfortunate Battle of Caporetto during the First World War
Kobarid is the Slovenian name for Caporetto, a small municipality in western Slovenia on the border with Italy. Caporetto is synonymous with failure for the Italian population, and is still commonly used to indicate a burning defeat. Yet a hundred years have passed since the notorious battle, which took place during the First World War, from 24 October to 27 November between Italian Royal Army troops and the Austro-Hungarian forces, ending in the hasty withdrawal of Italian troops after losing more than 10,000 soldiers (50,000 thousand were lost on the "victorious" side, resulting in a million civilian refugees).
Christian Carmosino Mereu’s documentary, Kobarid [+see also:
film profile], in competition at Trieste Film Festival, pays tribute to the dead, using the famous defeat to warn against war.The documentaryopens onto the snow-covered Karst, photographed by the expert director in a livid light. We hear echoes of faraway cannonades. The trees are bare and black, damaged by battle. Alessio Boni reads a text written by Carmosino with Marina Margioni, "I know how crazy it is. A dead man lying along a roadside ditch fills the heart with anguish, yet numerous dead men lying along a continuous road somehow lessens the pain." The anaesthesia of death. These are lines from an excruciating poem, inspired by the real testimonies of both Italian and Austrian-Hungarian soldiers, now archived at Kobarid Museum. The words are reminiscent of the Slovenian poet, Srečko Kosovel, or Giani Stuparich's Guerra del '15, an antimilitarist diary from the trenches written by an interventionist who personally came to understand how his dreams about war, and those of a whole generation of young intellectuals, were so illusory and literary. The film echoes the vast literature of the Great War, such as texts by Ernest Hemingway and Louis Ferdinand Celine, as well as poems by Giuseppe Ungaretti, whofought on the Karst. An anti-rhetorical activity that gives a voice to soldiers, similarly to ErmannoOlmi’s fiction film Greenery Will Bloom Again [+see also:
film profile], released in2014. "We all see ourselves in the dead," says Curzio Malaparte, referred to at the beginning of the documentary by his real name, Kurt Erich Suckert. "We find our humanity in those disfigured faces, in skin that is swollen and cracked, that has also breathed air and walked in the sun." In Kobarid, images of the local area surrounding the town and the Isonzo Valley, of tunnels and trenches, punctuated by the words of acute daily suffering and horror, alternate with irreconcilable images of today's visitors, tourists wearing shorts and t-shirts, skiers on the slopes, the roads of the constantly-growing nation of Slovenia. The film’s dark, painful score was written by Svarte Greiner, AKA Erik K. Skodvin, a Norwegian artist and one half of the music duo Deaf Center, formed with Otto Totland, and is somewhat reminiscent of the beautiful soundtrack to Dead Man by Jim Jarmusch, composed and played by Neil Young.
Fabrizio Mambro handled the film’s editing, whilephotography, direct sound and executive production were handled by the director himself, who also produced the film in association with Command B, Incadenza Film, and the Department of Philosophy, Communication and Entertainment at the University of Roma Tre.
(Translated from Italian)
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