When there was Berlinguer

When there was Berlinguer

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The life and political career of Enrico Berlinguer, secretary of the Italian Communist Party (PCI) from 1972 to 1984.

It’s not easy to talk about a movie about Enrico Berlinguer. Much less when who directs it is one as Walter Veltroni . The fabric emozional-sentimental and political-ideological baggage inevitably tend to merge and collide in a plot that threatens to total second floor from a purely cinematic. On the other hand it is necessary to take note that when there was Berlinguer is not simply a film produced as artistic endeavor, but it is obviously a movie “political”, both in the broad sense, with an intent that is pedagogical-educational (hence the ‘beginning of the work in which you are interviewing the young generation ignorant), both in the narrow sense, with a reckless use and not too masked figure to justify some of his political projects established themselves in recent years in Italy.

Before getting into the political controversy, much needed since the purpose of the film, but it is right to emphasize the technical merits of the documentary made ​​by Veltroni, capable of adequately dosed vintage footage, interviews, original shots and clips that show some of Amarcord cinephile culture and ability citations of the director. To be honest you might have a lot to complain of the interviews, especially the choice of many unsavory subjects to which you are called to testify and remember. This criticism, however, must fall rather in political controversy. In the meantime, we can and we must commend some directorial choices fits perfectly capable of touching deep in the viewer: for example, the desire to show a large part of his speech in Padua by the Secretary of the PCI. The last before he died. Pursued with tenacity, passion, struggle, despite the evidence for everyone, including the crowd that was there, that the leader was giving disquieting signs of abating. In those pictures you can reach the summit in the ability to represent the profound humanity and deep ethical, political and Kant that characterizes this great figure. It is true that in general the life of Berlinguer, his personal integrity, his character upright and austere, even if combined with a personality inwardly smiling and cheerful, make easy the task to excite anyone in this small Sardinian man who believed in the policy with “p” is capitalized.

Veltroni manages to exploit every little detail being able to bring out all the majesty of this irreproachable moral character, which is by far the best thing about the work, in its political purpose “large.” In the Italy of today, plagued by indifference, dishonesty, ignorance and rampant amateurism approximate to anyone watching the film would think of accusing a man like Berlinguer to be a member of the political class that has never worked in his life. Instead his words resonate very timely written from prison in Sassari (“The ‘anti-politics is the new form of fascism”), where during the war, a young Henry was imprisoned for his anti-fascist and partisan activity. Equally exciting other important moments: the interview sobbing worker who saw him shortly before his death, the stories of the bodyguard, the now classic images of the majestic funeral …

The only real downside of the work from the standpoint of purely technical film, is perhaps his lack of vibrancy and dynamism. One aspect besides that connects to the willingness to build a narrative epic background on which to base the dramatic story of a character who touched the sky with a finger before declining slowly, and on the double parallel track physical and political. We enter in political analysis, which, as is evident, connects aspect-narrative film: the final part of the work in fact, coincides with the last years of the life of the protagonist, turns the story into a political swan song where the detail fades: you begin to omit important details and aspects (the battle against the installation of the missiles of NATO, the polemic against the “Meliorists” who wanted to transform the PCI social democratic organization, fighting rash on the escalator , the recovery of the complaint of theft Democrat). The Berlinguer recent years (1980-84) is no longer a political figure for Veltroni, except when it carries on the themes dear to him (as the controversy with the Soviet Union and socialism, which was completed in the speech of 1981 ” on the exhaustion of thrust “) but becomes a hero shakspeariano, a romantic and tragic figure who succeeds with his charisma just keep standing in the miracle of ideology and organization anachronistic and unsuitable for the” modernity “galloping.

This is the message that is passed Veltroni, reaching to explicitly tell the same Meliorists (ie the most bitter enemies within the party last Berlinguer: Napolitano, Macaluso) and questionable characters in many respects (Jovanotti …!, Daughter White, etc..) that the PCI could not survive Berlinguer, and indeed subsequent events were inevitable. This maneuver, aimed in fact to legitimize and justify the policy outcome is still in the (de-) evolution undertaken by the post-communist at the same time trying to maintain a character in his own story and always proudly communist (as with its own peculiarities and, let me say, sinning often naive and incorrect analysis of tactical and strategic), is the most embarrassing, revisionist, squalid and degrading work Veltroni: Use the tragic figure of Berlinguer to convince the Italian public medium-communist progressive that the issue is now irrevocably closed for 30 years without the possibility of any second thoughts. The only things that remain possible for the viewer to have the regret, the memory and the nostalgia for an era and a man now locked up in a past that is history, and as such should be cataloged, with no appeal possible for a repeat in the present. Here is the gist of the political message “restricted” work Veltroni. A message that the viewer must strive to separate intertwining with the feeling hagiographic for Berlinguer, catching him for what he is: just an opinion of a mediocre politician.

It should finally, 30 years after his death, begin to re-examine critically about many of the choices that most questionable (tactical or strategic that they were) carried out by the PCI Berlinguer, often introduced and carried out on his primary personal conviction and in a manner stubborn. Veltroni clearly presents them as strategic, being involved as much as possible to detach the icon’s legendary empire “evil” Soviet empire. The reality is probably much more complex, but the discussion would begin to deviate too much from a purely cinematic penetrate the purely political and this is clearly not the most appropriate place for such a discussion. It concludes by saying only this certainty: if Berlinguer was still alive would certainly have been more pleased if a “talent” as Veltroni was limited to the film career than politics.