Marco Bellocchio - Director

Nationality: Italian. Born: Piacenza, 9 November 1939. Education: Educated in Milan, at Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografica, Rome, and at Slade School of Fine Arts, London (on scholarship), 1959–63. Career: Directed first feature, I pugni in tasca , 1965; joined cooperative dedicated to militant cinema, 1968; co-directed 5-part series for TV, La macchina cinema , 1977–78.

Films as Director:


I pugni in tasca ( Fists in the Pocket ) (+ sc)


La Cina è vicina ( China Is Near ) (+ co-sc)


"Discutiamo discutiamo" episode of Amore e rabbia ( Vangelo '70 ) (+ co-sc, role)


Nel nome del padre ( In the Name of the Father ) (+ sc)


Sbatti il mostro in prima pagina ( Strike the Monster on Page One ) (co-d uncredited, co-sc)


Nessuno o tutti—Matti da slegare (co-d, co-sc)


Marcia trionfale (+ co-sc)


Il gabbiano (+ co-sc)


Salto nel vuoto (+ sc)


Leap into the Void (+ sc)


Vacanze in Valtrebbia


Gli occhi, la bocca ( The Eyes, the Mouth )


Enrico IV ( Henry IV )


Devil in the Flesh


La visionè del sabba ( The Visions of Sabbath )


La sorciere


La condanna (+sc)


Sogno della Farfalla


Sogni infranti ( Broken Dreams )


Il Principe di Homburg ( The Prince of Homburg ) (+sc)


La Balia ( The Nanny ) (+sc)

Other films:


La colpa e la pena, Abbasso lo zio (as student at Centro Sperimentale); Ginepro fatto uomo (diploma film at Centro Sperimentale)


Francesco d'Assisi


Salò o le 120 giornate di Sodoma ( Pier Paolo Pasolini) (ro as The President)



La Cina è vicina , Bologna, 1967; as China Is Near , New York, 1969.

I pugni in tasca , Milan, 1967.

By BELLOCCHIO: articles—

Interview in Film Society Review (New York), January 1972.

"La Place de la politique," an interview with G. Fofi, in Positif (Paris), April 1972.

Interview with N. Zalaffi, in Sight and Sound (London), Autumn 1973.

"Marco Bellocchio on Victory March," interview with R. Schar, in Cinema Papers (Melbourne), September/October 1976.

"Marco Bellocchio—l'alibi du grand public n'est qu'une justification hypocrite," interview with D. Rabourdin, in Cinéma (Paris), March 1977.

Interview with Dan Yakir, in Film Comment (New York), March-April 1983.

Interview with J.C. Bonnet, in Cinématographe (Paris), June 1986.

Interview in Filmcritica (Florence), April-May 1988.

Interview in 24 Images (Montreal), Winter 1988–89.

Interview in Film Quarterly (Berkeley), Fall 1989.

Interview in Jeune Cinéma (Paris), May-June 1991.


Wlaschin, Ken, Italian Cinema since the War , Cranbury, New Jersey, 1971.

Leprohon, Pierre, The Italian Cinema , New York, 1972.

Tassone, Aldo, Le Cinema italien parle , Paris, 1982.

Michalczyk, John J., The Italian Political Filmmakers , Cranbury, New Jersey, 1986.

On BELLOCCHIO: articles—

Tessier, Max, "Au nom du père et de la politique," in Ecran (Paris), February 1973.

Comuzio, E., "Marco Bellocchio au miroir de Tchekhov," in Jeune Cinéma (Paris), April/May 1979.

Croyden, Margaret, "A Fresh Cinematic Voice from Italy," in New York Times , 11 December 1983.

Martin, Marcel, "Les yeux, la bouche" in Revue du Cinéma/Image et Son (Paris), November 1984, + filmo.

Stefanutto-Rosa, S., "Il diavola nel subconscio dello psicoanalista selvaggio," in Cinema Nuovo (Bari), March-April 1986.

Kennedy, Harlan, "Second Birth," in Film Comment (New York), July-August 1994.

Segnocinema (Vicenza), July-August 1994.

* * *

One of the healthiest aspects of the ever-more impressive cinematic output of the 1960s was the greater respect accorded to different, even opposing, approaches to political filmmaking. Thus, a Godard or a Straub could comfortably accept being called a political filmmaker while their work analyzed the process of creating meaning in cinema. One of Italy's most gifted directors to have emerged since the war, Marco Bellocchio chose to delve into his own roots and scrutinize those primary agents of socialization—the classroom, the church, and, most crucially for him, the family. Besides serving to reproduce selected values and ideas about the world, these structures are depicted by Bellocchio to be perfect, if microcosmic, reflections of society at large.

Bellocchio's films are black comedies centered around the threat of impending chaos. Typically, Bellocchio's protagonists are outsiders who, after learning the rules by which social structures remain intact, set about circumventing or ignoring them. Through their actions they expose the fragility of the social order by exposing the fragility of all presumed truths. The judge in Leap into the Void , for example, devises a bizarre plot to have his sister killed in order to avoid suffering the embarrassment of sending her to a mental institution.

The nuclear family, as an incarnation of the social order, represents a system of clearly understood, if unexpressed, power relationships within a fixed hierarchy. These power relationships are expressed in familial terms: Bellocchio's women, for example, are usually defined as mothers or sisters. Even the radical political beliefs that some of his characters profess must be judged with regard to their application in the family sphere: shocked to discover that his sister is no longer a virgin, Vittorio in China Is Near admits, "You can be a Marxist-Leninist but still insist that your sister doesn't screw around."

Along with his countryman Bernardo Bertolucci, Bellocchio is a primary example of the first European generation of film-schooleducated directors. Often, these directors—perhaps under the influence of la politique des auteurs —tended to exhibit an extreme self-conciousness in their films. While watching a Bellocchio film, one is struck at how little or nothing is left open to interpretation—everything seems achingly precise and intentional. Yet what saves his films from seeming airless or hopelessly "arty" is that they're often outrageously funny. The havoc his characters wreak on all those around them is ironically counterpointed to the controlled precision of the direction. There is a kind of mordant delight in discovering just how far Bellocchio's characters will go in carrying out their eerie intrigues. The sense of shrewd critical intelligence orchestrating comic pandemonium into lucid political analyses is one of the most pleasurable aspects of his cinema.

—Richard Peña

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