Monday, August 07, 2006

I Cento Passi

What is special about Marco Tullio Giordana's "I Cento Passi"?

Cento Passi (one hundred steps) is a film which depicts the notoreity of Mafia, an evil of Italia Meridionale (South Italy). While introducing we foreigners to Elementi di Civiltà of Italian life, our professor took great efforts to screen this movie for us. Peppino Impastato, a real character in history, fought against the mafia in Cinisi, a region in Sicilia, and finally became a martyr for his cause. It's a history-based film, no doubt. But what was the appeal of the film? Was the film trying faithfully to reproduce history and to make a judgement on the good and evil of social and political life of 1960s? If the film was trying to show matrydom how's it different from the epocal event of crucifixion of Christ? Isn't it time for us to give a new interpretation to this epocal event?

There is a shot in the film which depicts the summary of the film's objectives: Peppino plans to contest the elections. During the election campaign for Peppino the campaign vehicle enters a street where it was blocked for a moment on the road by a herd of sheeps/goats. The person who was announcing with the microphone gives a spontaneous remark: "andate controcorrente" (go against the flow). The crowd is always like a herd of sheep, no doubt. For Peppino, who tried to motivate the people of Cinisi to speak against the notoreity of Mafia, the people were like animals; without language. But that is all... Going against the societal norms and becoming a martyr - this is an old model. It's time to think about a power with the king's head cut-off (quote-unquote).

One can easily juxtapose I Cento Passi with the 'finally hero wins' movies in Indian languages. They are much more successful in fulfilling their objectives - pure entertainment. After all, which is more convincing: individual heroism in history or heroic struggle in movies?

Postscript: India can be easily stereotyped. Scenes of sexual liberation and mastery over pleasure was intertwined with Indian music (Sitar) in Cento Passi. Sitar is played when a white lady in Indian Salwar, who seems to have explored 'the hidden India', is shown to be leading Peppino to a friend of her's to make a new collaboration with former's Radio Aut.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Its a FANTASSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSTIC film...

Anonymous said...

it's a great film.....:p

Anonymous said...

i like the montagne de merda bit....

Anonymous said...

Mafia e una MERDA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

the film need some action man... it's not enough action... ilike action.... alieee

Lippo said...

Wait a second, how was that a stereotyping of India? I agree that the film was a little bit clumsy in its depiction of certain groups (the free love element in particular) but the liberal communist context in that scene absolutely justified the sitar, It is something that immediately recalls Ravi Shankar saying "I felt offended and shocked to see India being regarded so superficially and its great culture being exploited. Yoga, Tantra, mantra, kundalini, ganja, hashish, Kama Sutra? They all became part of a cocktail that everyone seemed to be lapping up!'

I think the film is gently critical of that superficial assimilation of culture by the 'right on' hippie set, hence the camera staying firmly on the cliff top during the naked beach scene. That certainly isn't what Peppino was about and neither is it the ethos of 'I Cento Passi'.

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