Wednesday, October 12, 2022

Fists in the Pocket

Marco Bellocchio’s Fists in the Pocket (1965), is a polymorphously perverse essay on violence. It anticipates the culture wars of '68 and the Red Brigades, but is ultimately more primal. The theme is domestic terrorism (and not the kind of self-imploding political acts perpetrated by MAGA Republicans today) to the extent that the violence is leveled totally at family members. Alessandro (Lou Castel), the lead character, has been compared to Raskolnikov (like Dostoevsky, Alessandro suffers from epilepsy). However, he’s a nihilist and anarchist who also brings to mind Turgenev’s Bazarov to the extent that his acts are both literal and symbolic. Fists in the Pocket was Bellocchio’s first film. It was made when he was only 26 and breathes the oedipal contempt for bourgeois society which will titrate into a more sophisticated "politics" in later films like Devil in the Flesh. One of the most interesting leitmotifs of the film is the lightness of touch with which the most unthinkable acts are undertaken. Alessandro unleashes his hatred in a subtle almost muted manner. He gently leads his blind mother (Liliana Gerace) to the edge of a cliff, and effortlessly drowns his retarded brother, Leone (Pier Luigi Troglio) in a bathtub. Alessandro’s hatred is mitigated by a hauntingly psychopathic form of control. He places a pillow over his sister Guilia’s (Paola Pitagora) head, but then relents and ends up in a frenzy of contortions on the floor by her bed. The film is available from Criterion and includes interviews with both the director, his lead actor, Lou Castel, and Bernardo Bertolucci, an early admirer of the movie.

read "Crime and Punishment at 150" by Francis Levy, HuffPost

and watch the trailer for Erotomania

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