admin On giugno - 8 - 2013

by Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi


‘Dormant Beauty’ (to be exact it would be Sleeping Beauty) introduces three interrelated stories that discuss the right to euthanasia: a senator (Toni Servillo) with a passionately pro-life daughter (Alba Rohrwacher) preparing to cast his vote on the issue; a retired actress and devout Catholic (Isabelle Huppert) who tends to her own comatose daughter; and a troubled young doctor (Bellocchio’s son, Piergiorgio) who tries to help a suicidal methadone addict (Maya Sansa). The movie was very much appraised at the 69th Venice Film Festival and is now shown at the Open Roads: New Italian Cinema Film Festival at Lincoln Center in New York.

Here is the exclusive interview with Marco Bellocchio:

How did you come up with the idea of tackling the subject matter of euthanasia?


There’s a general precariousness. The crisis. I’m not accustomed to choosing movies according to how easily I may get funds. I propose several subject matters. Once I proposed one called ‘Italia Mia’ (My Italy) that metaphorically dealt with Belusconi’s Italy and there was a character who farcically resembled him a lot. This project had been scrapped because it was considered too daring by producers. But at times some rejections may be beneficial because you realise the project isn’t ready yet. So this was when another idea came to my mind, connected to what happened to Eluana Englaro (an Italian woman from Lecco, who entered a persistent vegetative state on 18 January 1992, following a car accident, and subsequently became the focus of a court battle between supporters and opponents of euthanasia). I didn’t want to portray her story it would have been disrespectful. So I created other characters that observed the court battle of Eluana’s father, who in turn had to face the same dilemma directly or indirectly.


You discussed euthanasia maintaining your nonreligious perspective, but with great respect towards those who are believers, how did you manage to find the proper balance?


It all depends on how much you love the characters. I was very fond of the role interpreted by Isabelle Huppert and her mysticism that leads her almost to the desire of becoming a saint. This character captivated me, hence I couldn’t be hostile towards the way it would have been represented, besides her delirium was blatant through her behaviour towards her husband and son.


Could your reference to other film-makers be the channel through which you convey your laic position, like with the extract of ‘La Dame Aux Camelias’ by Mauro Bolognini?


I simply wanted to show how much the son adores his mother by choosing to become an actor too. Isabelle Huppert had performed in Mauro Bolognini’s film and she drinks the blood of a veal who has just been killed. Allegorically it stands for her son: she sacrifices him by dedicating herself flesh and blood to her daughter who is in a coma, in a way she is almost killing her son.


In a very Catholic country like Italy will it ever be possible to secularise euthanasia?


Usually the church recognises certain principles with great delay. Four hundred years went by before the church recognised that Galileo’s theories were true, as well as many others. I don’t know whether Pope Francis will actually change things on a theological basis. But he has certainly proved to be willing to change the human side of the church: going back to its origins, eliminating the privileges of this institution and helping those in need.



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