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.