MoMA to Open Marco Bellocchio: A Retrospective, 4/16
The Museum of Modern Art and Luce Cinecittà present Marco Bellocchio: A Retrospective, a film series dedicated to the remarkable 50-year career of Italian filmmaker Marco Bellocchio, from April 16 to May 7, 2014, in the Roy and Niuta Titus Theaters. The exhibition highlights 18 of Bellocchio's films, which have consistently questioned prevailing ideologies, confronted the church and the radical left in equal measure, and challenged notions of morality and family. With his distinct interpretations and visual sophistication, Bellocchio has tackled subjects that challenge the powers that be, the censors, and sometimes even audiences, confronting psychoanalysis, patriarchy, sexuality, women's roles, the family, the church, politics, the press, the right to die, anarchy, and terrorism, among others. While his films encompass a wide range of genres and subjects, they remain distinctive and personal, reflecting his uncompromising views and artistic ambition. Along with Bernardo Bertolucci and Pier Paolo Pasolini, Bellocchio has become one of Italy's most important filmmakers and a leading cultural figure for successive generations of Italians. The exhibition, which follows two previous collaborations between MoMA and Luce Cinecittà dedicated to Bertolucci and Pasolini, presents new and restored 35mm prints of most of Marco Bellocchio's cinematic productions, from his earliest films to his latest. Marco Bellocchio: A Retrospective is presented by The Museum of Modern Art, New York, in collaboration with Luce Cinecittà, Rome, and is organized by Jytte Jensen, Curator, Department of Film, MoMA, and Camilla Cormanni and Paola Ruggiero, Luce Cinecittà; with thanks to Dave Kehr, Adjunct Curator, Department of Film, MoMA.
Bellocchio's directorial debut, I Pugni in tasca (Fists in the Pocket) (1965)-a prophetic precursor to the student revolutions of the late 1960s that shocked Italian society and cinema-contains many of the themes Bellocchio would explore throughout his career, and established his reputation as a controversial director, one who consistently confronts the sociopolitical issues that define a particular moment. Fists in the Pocket was among the first Italian films to give voice to the anger and alienation that would define the generation of 1968. Riding that resentment, the Dutch actor Lou Castel became a cult figure as the seizure-prone young man who unilaterally decides that the world would be better off without some members of his decaying, haute bourgeois family.
The opening-night film, Il Regista di matrimoni (The Wedding Director) (2006), is framed by two elaborately choreographed weddings-only one of which might be real. Farcical and cynical in equal measure, the film is also a heartfelt critique of the state of the Italian movie industry and, by extension, society as a whole. Bellocchio's artistry as a filmmaker is evident throughout the movie, with its innocent fairy-tale symbolism and use of imagery fueled by the imagination, from church and pagan ceremonies, to surveillance and photographic images, to dreams and movies. In Bellocchio's latest film, Bella addormentata (Dormant Beauty) (2012), the multilayered narrative is constructed around a legal struggle concerning the fate of a woman, Eluana Englaro, who has been in a vegetative coma for 17 years. Each story plays out on a different stylistic level, from domestic drama (a liberal senator risks losing the love of his deeply religious daughter), to social realism (a young doctor struggles to save a drug addict from herself), to operatic delirium (a famous actress creates a theatrical spectacle around her own daughter, a young woman kept alive by a respirator).