PART 2 OF 2
[INVESTIGATION OF A CITIZEN ABOVE SUSPICION] [Augusta Terzi] You treat them like children.
[Homicide Division Chief] Everyone becomes a child again, especially in the presence of the established authorities.
In my presence, because I represent power.
Straighten up! The law.
Sit up! The law.
[Florinda Bolkan, Actress] And again when we were on the beach, and I put sand in Volonte's mouth, that too was a surprise. He was like that. He came up to me and said, "Put sand in his mouth."
I said, "God no, he'll be furious. He'll hit me." Because Volonte had a temper, even in real life.
[INVESTIGATION OF A CITIZEN ABOVE SUSPICION] [Homicide Division Chief] What the -- Bitch! What the --
[Florinda Bolkan, Actress] He was really the ideal director. Because we all need a hand, we all need surprises.
[Ugo Pirro, Screenwriter] At one point Elio called and said, "Listen, I finished mixing Come and see the film." Zavattini was there, and Monicelli. I think Scola was there, and others, I can't remember now. When the lights came back up, after a few comments, they all sad, "You're going to jail."
And they advised us to leave Rome.
[INVESTIGATION OF A CITIZEN ABOVE SUSPICION] [Homicide Division Chief] Panunzio! Panunzio! Let's have Panunzio break open a bottle for us. Here he is.
[Panunzio] My deepest congratulations, Chief.
[Homicide Division Chief] Toruzzo! You're coming with me.
[Homicide Division Chief] You're coming with me, got it?
[Mangani] Congratulations. It won't be easy for me to fill your shoes.
[Homicide Division Chief] Don't be ridiculous. What are you talking about? And Panunzio? Where is he?
[Reporter] About Investigation it's been said that as well as being highly popular it also displays political apathy, since there is nothing that amuses Italians as much as bad-mouthing the police.
[Elio Petri] Yes, but it set a precedent. For the first time, a film that criticized the institution of the police was not accused of contempt. And this set a precedent. I don't believe political apathy does anything of that sort. Political apathy never brings about any kind of change. In its own tiny way, Investigation created change.
[Enrico Lucherini, Press Agent] It was an inconvenient film.
In order to promote it, I had to jump through a thousand hoops, because it was not appreciated by part of the Italian government, the Christian Democrats, at the time. So it was not easy for me.
I was fairly well known for making up small scandals and tabloid-worthy gossip on set.
With Petri, as with Pasolini, and Visconti and Fellini, I couldn't help the films with that type of nonsense. Because I understood that these were important films.
[Marco Giusti, Film Critic] I liked the film, as a simple spectator. As a critical spectator, I had other ideas. I mean, I didn't like the kind of cinema that Petri made, at all. But between Morricone, who could make us love anything, and Volonte with his mannerisms, if you see it today it's very modern.
[Enrico Lucherini, Press Agent] Already the day it came out, I realized that audiences were traumatized by this story, so complex yet so wonderful.
[Cop Frenchy] Chief, they have the same names they did 30 years ago.
[Homicide Division Chief] Revolution is like syphilis. It's in their blood.
[Cop] Good evening.
[Homicide Division Chief] Evening.
[Cop] Evening, Chief. We can't take this much longer. What a pain!
[Anarchists] Murderers! Fascists! Fascists! Fascists! Spontaneists! Spontaneists!
[Cop Frenchy] Even in jail, they fight. In two hours, they've already split up into four groups. It's like a chain reaction. It's a good thing they're not united, or we'd have trouble.
[Reporter] Mr. Petri, your films have been given many different labels: Films of denunciation, of protest and even demonstration films.
[Elio Petri] That's right.
[Reporter] Lately, they've been called political. Which label is most accurate, or how would you characterize your work?
[Elio Petri] Well I think Investigation was a popular film. Therefore it was also political. I think the political content of Investigation was enhanced by the great audience response it got.
[Giovanna Cau, Lawyer] And the film received the Special Jury Prize at Cannes. It was nominated for Best Original Screenplay, and it won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film.
[Florinda Bolkan, Actress] I remember that it was -- what was her name -- Leslie Caron accepted the award, and I was furious. I said, that would have been me if I had known that those two weren't going to go, because they didn't move. They were protesters and they made a film about a moment in history, and they really focused on -- It was important, but they didn't even want to go receive -- they didn't want to even be there.
[Ennio Morricone, Composer] This is like a little fable, but it's true. He didn't want me in the mixing booth and called me when it was over. When he was done mixing he showed me the film. And he had put in completely different music from another thriller that I had composed, with a chorus, it was completely absurd. And since he was next to me, he said, "You see, Ennio, how perfect this music is?" Knowing full well that it wasn't the original music. So he knew that I would be very upset. And I said, "Look, it's awful. It has nothing to do with the film." "No, it's extraordinary. Truly extraordinary." And for ten minutes he bombarded . It was fabulous. "Look, it's extraordinary, extraordinary." By then I've given up -- In the end, the director does whatever he wants. What could I do? I gave up, and said to him, "Look, it just doesn't fit." By then the lights were up. He said to me, "Ennio ... you should" -- His exact words. "You should slap me in the face for this prank. You wrote the most beautiful music" [chokes up and holds back tears] "I could ever imagine."
[Ugo Pirro, Screenwriter] It was Elio's idea at first to make a movie about the working class.
So we started to write the script and we traveled around visiting factories, and mostly we followed a workers' protest in Rome, here at FATME, a factory where there was a protest led mostly by this one group called Potere Operaio, Workers' Power.
Potere Operaio urged the workers to hold demonstrations inside the factory. All this because a worker had been fired. His name was Tiberio. So we took this protest as our model.
Other people had also offered to produce the film. But when they heard that it was The Working Class, they all pulled out.
[THE WORKING CLASS GOES TO HEAVEN]
[Dante Ferretti, Set Designer] I remember while walking around inside the factory there were some cardboard boxes thrown to the side and on one of them there was a closed fist -- no, not closed -- it was pointing, instead of drawing an arrow. And I remember I said, "Look at this great image." And the others said, "That's a fabulous idea. Why don't we paint it on the wall, like the boss telling the workers that they have to work." It then went on to become the symbol of repression in the factory.
Then there was the whole aspect of his private life, of where Gian Maria Volonte as supposed to live. His name in the film was Lulu. And I made it completely real with real materials, inside Cinecitta, with real floors.
So what did I do? I'll never forget one day, I told the prop master, before he came, to cook something in the kitchen and to use garlic, to saute some garlic. So that when you entered it would smell like a real home. In fact, it stank to high heaven. So he came in, he smelled the garlic and said, "Oh, it's wonderful, it looks great. Wonderful, so real." So that was the miniscule idea I had. Not so much to make it look so perfect, but to have him come into a place that smelled real.
[Ugo Pirro, Screenwriter] There were lots of clashes. Because Volonte, who had been a strong protester, in the meantime had become very orthodox. He was very much aligned with the Communist Party.
And he felt that our script went against the party. Volonte even got into fistfights with students in front of the factory. At one point he provoked me and I assaulted him. There were several episodes.
[Marina Cicogna, Producer] Pirro and Gian Maia one day chased each other with knives.
They wanted to kill each other. Then at night, at the restaurant, "Tomorrow I'm going to kill you." It was a time of great tension.
[Flavio Bucci, Actor] He fought with Petri, but he also fought with Pirro. But his behavior was also kind of schizophrenic. Gian Maria was a man who always had to be worked up, pissed off. He was not at all laid back.
[Mariangela Melato, Actress] One day he called me to do what I thought was an audition for The Working Class.
They put me in a slip that was rather see-through. and told me to get into bed and pretend to have intimate relations with Gian Maria Volonte.
I was completely bewildered, and I asked myself, "What kind of weird audition is this? My face has to be under the covers. It's going to be a bit embarrassing, but we all know perfectly well what's going on. And they'll never see my face." Then I was terrified because my feet were cold, and I remember I apologized ad nauseam, "I'm sorry, Mr. Gian Maria. My feet are cold. I am so sorry, I have to touch you with my cold feet." And finally at one point he said, "All right already, with your feet. Your feet are cold, big deal. I don't give a damn about your feet. Be quiet." So that evening, I said, "So, how did the audition go? You'll let me know?" And Petri said, "What audition? This was a shoot. Come back tomorrow because we're going to go on with the scene."
I was absolutely dumbstruck. I nearly fainted, because I thought ... I was so excited that as I was running to catch the train back to Rome, I broke my foot.
For me it was a unique experience. Usually I don't dwell on the past. But that period, that time, I miss that film. I would love to start all over tomorrow. Even going back and forth between Rome and Novara, Novara and Roma, even with my broken foot.
[Robert Altman, Director] I think I learned then to insist on that sort of thing from my relationships with people like Elio and Fellini and Bergman, John Huston, and the directors that were my mentors, because they politically -- no matter what the film was -- they politically took the position that they were the artists, these were people who were artists, and they could say what, and they could make them about what they wanted to. And politics was always in the background of all of us, because we'd have to deal with that every day of our lives.
[Elio Petri] Films like Investigation and like Salvatore Giuliano, and like The Conformist, and like Hands Over the City, like La Terra Trema, or Rome Open City, the great films. I'm talking about the great films on whose shoulders my work stands. They originated in a great wave of democratic renewal.
[Ugo Pirro, Screenwriter] We occupied the Istituto Luce. We members of the Society, we occupied the Mostra del Cinema.
[WE WANT TO STUDY MORE AND BETTER]
[FILMMAKERS PROTEST PERSECUTION OF DEMOCRATS IN TURIN]
[HUGE ATTENDANCE AT GATHERING OF ITALIAN FILMMAKERS]
["POLITICAL" OCCUPATION OF THE CENTRO SPERIMENTALE]
[Ugo Pirro, Screenwriter] The debates were incredibly impassioned. You can't imagine what it was like. Today it's unimaginable.
The things we did.
[Robert Altman, Director] So you can't be an artist in the 20th century and not be involved in politics. It's just impossible.
[Woman] They dragged me away from home like a tin of stewed tomatoes. And now I'm here. But if I weren't, I'd be somewhere else. In another store, another house, another neighborhood.
Or maybe ...
seated in a theater, like you.
[Ugo Pirro, Screenwriter] Elio's belief, rather than an idea, was: The actor is like a thief. What does the actor do, after all? He steals the character from here, takes possession of a personality there. And the thief? He disguises himself. He transforms himself to become a thief.
From this paradox we started to think about the film.
[Jean Gili, Film Critic] He said many times that Property is about "being" and "having."
And mostly about the fact that "having" destroys "being."
As a prime example of a character ..
representative of "having"," he chooses the butcher.
He needs to show off his power.
He exists only because of what he holds in his hand.
[PROPERTY IS NO LONGER A THEFT]
[MAN IS A CARNIVOROUS ANIMAL]
[Butcher] 1.2 kilograms.
[Woman] Could you weigh it again, please?
[Butcher] Why should I?
[Woman] I read 1.08 kilograms ...
and not 1.2 kilograms.
[Jean Gili, Film Critic] Then he runs into this young man ...
who works at a bank and hates money so much that he has to handle it with gloves, because Elio wanted to show us that money burns.
[Bank Director] Mr. Total, come here.
[Mr. Total] Director, may I please work with gloves on?
[Bank Director] As long as you don't remove your tie.
And go see a doctor.
[Flavio Bucci, Actor] The very first scene of Property was one in which I was outside the door of my house, and the camera was inside. I had to open the door and go in, pass the camera in the hallway and exit the scene. Then there was the next scene. I was very excited, super tense, we did various rehearsal shots, the camera on the ground, 55 people behind the camera. And then, after many practice shots, I said, "Is it all right, Elio?" "Yes, it's perfect. Go ahead!" The very first slate for the film. So I hear, from behind the door, "Ready, speed, slate it. Action, go!" I open the door, go in, and I hear a huge raspberry from 55 people in the crew. A colossal raspberry.
[Property is No Longer a Theft] [Girl] Who's that?
[Mr. Total] A ghost. The ghost of a banker.
[Girl] Did you steal all of this stuff?
[Mr. Total] I'm a Marxist and a magician.
I only steal what I need. The hardest thing to steal is tobacco.
Harder than medications.
[Flavio Bucci, Actor] We took Property to Venice, and it was the year of the protest.
The traditional festival was canceled, but we held the Giornate del Cinema.
[Ugo Pirro, Screenwriter] The Society of Authors, on my suggestion, I have to say ...
we created the Giornate del Cinema.
In a public square we projected films that were supposed to go to the Venice Film Festival. Property Is No Longer a Theft was presented in an open square ... and was received badly. It was misunderstood, and the next day, the reviews were all negative.
At that point, Elio met with Lietta Tornabuoni, a critic for La Stampa, and gave an interview against film critics which was very scathing.
[Furio Scarpelli, Screenwriter] And I must say that on the whole critics behaved badly toward him.
They didn't understand the heart that he put into each of his works.
[Flavio Bucci, Actor] This so-called cinema of engagement, political, social, etc., had a huge following among the leftists, of course. By boycotting it, the traditional left, we can say, condemned it to fail, if I may say so.
[Francesco Maselli, Director] Two things hurt Elio deeply at the time, I remember it well.
One was the type of debate started in Venice, also with the workers of Porto Marghera, who were there, in the film.
But he was even more disappointed, if I'm not mistaken, the year before at the festival of Porretta Terme, where The Working Class Goes to Heaven was attacked by members of FIOM, the Italian Federation of Machinists, who rejected the film and went so far as to say that it was dangerous and should not be screened. And there was a debate where Elio blamed me -- and not only me, there were several other directors there -- for not standing up for him. And he was absolutely right.
[Flavio Bucci, Actor] Elio had a powerful desire, as we all did, to criticize. But the goal was to spark debate, not to be destructive.
[Bernardo Bertolucci, Director] And I wondered, "How will Elio survive ...
the onslaught of this immovable river of words?"
[Elio Petri] Toward the end of my life, I made unpleasant films. Yes, unpleasant films in a society that now requires pleasantness of everything, even of social engagement. My films, on the contrary, go even beyond the mark of unpleasantness. To what is this due? Why do I make such films? Evidently because I have the distinct feeling of having reached a point in which I feel that all the premises that existed when I was a boy have been completely neutralized. Society has taken a completely different path, and this could not fail to leave a deep scar in my being.
[Todo Modo - 1976] [Don Gaetano] I am an evil priest. Very evil.
And I'll tell you something else. The Church has triumphed over the ages thanks to evil priests.
Their evil serves to confirm and exalt sanctity.
[Berto Pelosso, Screenwriter] Sciascia's novel had impressed him very much ...
because it attacked the Christian Democrats ...
who at the time had reached their lowest ebb. And he tried to personalize it very much in the screenplay, honing in on his goals, steering away from the more literary angle of Sciascia, and making a film that was more concrete, harsh, and which at the same time addressed other issues like the relationship between morals and politics, something which then we talked about a lot. When the film came out, some very important things had happened, in politics. There had been the proposal of the Historic Compromise. The Historic Compromise forced the political players to soften their polemical tone ...
and to stop raising the topic of corruption in favor of trying to find common ground all in the name of defending democracy.
[Woman] Let them talk first. There's always someone willing to start.
Don't say "painfully" "sorely" or "sadly" and most of all "magmatically," as you always do. Remember, they don't believe you just as you don't believe them.
[Berto Pelosso, Screenwriter] Ferretti, the set designer, made a proposal that was very evocative, to rebuild in the studio a giant ... a gigantic body shop.
[Mariangela Melato, Actress] You felt like you were in a never ending tunnel. There was an atmosphere of penance, which was the point, the whole point for these characters to go back and forth.
[Dante Ferretti, Set Designer] He loved the set, this modern cement catacomb.
In order to show it all, all the time, he shot the whole thing with the 25. Whether it was close-up, objects in the foreground, or ... the camera was always very close to the actor, very close, close to people who were whispering, because just like in politics, people speak up close, in each other's ears. So he only used that one lens, and even more importantly, he use the dolly for everything.
If you watch the film again, you'll never see a static shot, very few. Most of the time, he uses dolly shots that track the actors' movements.
[Giovanna Cau, Lawyer] The censors went to town on this film.
When it came out, disastrously, it was in theaters for a few days and then it disappeared, basically never to be seen again.
[Mariangela Melato, Actress] Todo Modo is a film that I never saw again. Never again. And I'd like to see it again, because it was a special film, I think, not even comparable to Elio's other films. It was really special. Prophetic.
[Todo Modo] [M.] I believe the time has come to think back upon the thirty years that saw us at the head of this country ....
[Berto Pelosso, Screenwriter] While we were writing in a house that Petri had in Torvaianica by the sea, Volonte often came to see us. He was very curious, and he would read pages of the script. So Petri, who always catered to his passion and encouraged his enthusiasm, said to him, "Listen, in the meantime, why don't you study some of these people, these Christian Democrats."
[Todo Modo] [M.] ... during which we effected a difficult, tormented, perhaps painful ...
[Paola Petri] In fact we had problems, because we received the first dailies and discovered that this was Moro himself. But they didn't want Moro. He was meant to be the symbol of a ruling class that precisely because religion was involved, everyone identified with Moro.
[Berto Pelosso, Screenwriter] I remember the screening, when the film came out. There were many members of the Communist Party, who were interested, and at the end, the room went completely cold.
[Marco Giusti, Film Critic] Moro was already an inconvenient character even before his death. So it's ... This movie needs to be completely reevaluated.
[Berto Pelosso, Screenwriter] Having the movie end with the death of Moro was a very inopportune choice, politically. And the Communist Party distanced itself immediately from the film, because at the time it was very disturbing.
[Mariangela Melato, Actress] We almost felt embarrassed. "Oh, God," we said. "Oh, God, we didn't know." There was no guilt, of course. But we did feel that we had foreseen the event. So we were even more shocked, I believe, than the rest of Italy. I mean, it was an event that was ...
incredible and unspeakable, and it still is today.
[Berto Pelosso, Screenwriter] Films were much more ... I mean, they had an effect ... they were much more impactful with audiences. Nowadays, everything is met with much more indifference, we could say. Back then a protest film, a harsh film, especially if made by someone with Petri's prestige -- They were films that could have a certain impact on audiences. The reactions of the politicians were justified ...
because films left a mark when they hit their target.
[Giovanna Cau, Lawyer] From this moment on, after Todo Modo, it was a hard time for Elio. There were many difficulties. Because Property is No Longer a Theft was criticized. Todo Modo in the end, even though it was amazing, had that sad fate. So he wrote Buone notizie, a film starring Giannini. I was hesitant about Buone notizie because it was very melanholic, very pessimistic.
[Jean Gili, Film Critic] In fact, it's a distressing film. It creates an image ... He put his angst, perhaps even his nightmares -- Yes, this film can be seen as a nightmare. In a society in which one can no longer live. And in this sense, it acquires the weight of a last work.
[Giancarlo Giannini, Actor] Elio called me at 10:00 at night. He said, "I have to read you the treatment I just jotted down. I want you to read it, or I can read it to you." He came to my house and read me this 40-page treatment, and it was Buone notizie. He was so enthusiastic about his idea. And I said, "It's going to be hard. Who will give us money to make it?" So I said, "Tomorrow morning, I want to ask my friends, the producers at Medusa," which were Poccioni and Colaiacomo.
So I went to see them. And they said, "Is this film full of laughs?" And I said, "Yeah, sure." Which was completely untrue. So in one morning I found, I think, 500 or 600 million lire. Back then it was more than enough, anyway, it was what we needed, and this film was born, Buone notizie, a difficult, strange, intriguing film. And we were the producers.
[Le buone notizie - 1979] [Man] I don't wanna die. I don't wanna die. Nurses, doctors, scientists, save me.
I don't wanna die. I don't wanna die! I don't wanna die! I don't wanna die! I don't wanna die!
[Giancarlo Giannini, Actor] The best time, with Elio, was following the film. It was my first time following with a director, in several cities -- We did this for an entire month. Almost every day. We'd go to Turin and then maybe Palermo. We would talk to people. And Elio wanted to explain the theme of the film. Even watching it now, I think its still very complex in its unfolding, and especially its ending.
The film ends with a question. It ends with this character, whom I played ... in the middle of this riddle that he can't solve, which is the distressing theme of life itself. He finds himself opening these envelopes within envelopes, and there's yet another envelope on which is written:
"Do not open," "Do not open," "Do not open."
Why? Why? Why do not open? What is it?
And this was the enigmatic, distressing ending of the film, which is still difficult to understand today, so I'm very proud of having produced that film together with Elio, such a complex film.
[Jean Gili, Film Critic] The angst that the film communicates, that makes it inconvenient, thus becomes his testament.
[Giovanna Cau, Lawyer] Since he died a few short years later, it may have presaged his death. He had become extremely depressed.
[Jean Gili, Film Critic] He was about to face the toughest period of his life, that sadly culminated as we all know. And then, the final project: Chi illumina la grande notte, which unfortunately he never made.
[Dante Ferretti, Set Designer] What saddens me is that unfortunately in Italy, who knows why, a person who had such success abroad, who won everything from the Oscar to the Silver Bear, to Cannes, internationally, to the Lion in Venice.
He won everything. This man who was a great artist, a great director, a truly great man of the cinema, has been completely forgotten, one never hears about him.
[Bernardo Bertolucci, Director] I see a giant cloud of injustice covering the figure of Petri, this director of a dozen films.
[Mariangela Melato, Actress] It's baffling.
Maybe there really is a will to erase him from memory.
I can't see any other explanation.
[Marco Risi, Director-Producer] It's easy to forget inconvenient characters. Petri was not an easy man, not an easygoing man. He examined the flaws of society and talked about them.
[Marco Giusti, Film Critic] I must be honest. Time has killed Petri, as well as our criticism and all critical debate. In Italy there no longer exists a critical debate on the cinema. The cinema is this stuff we have now.
There is no more militant cinema, militant criticism. This is one more reason why we miss Petri.
[Robert Altman, Director] And the people who didn't know the Elio Petris, the people who didn't know those films, they don't know what's missing. They have no inkling, because it just never existed in their minds. So those people have been really pushed aside and buried by the system, that they artistically really gave up their lives for.
[Tonino Guerra, Screenwriter] It's the first time that I've heard someone speaking, that a group of people thinks they can talk about this boy, so alive, so ... so entrenched in the cinema, in the images, so entrenched in a powerful vision, who must not be forgotten.
[Elio Petri] I like Stroheim and I don't like Flaherty. I don't like documentaries. They make me laugh. They're the epitome of manipulation, because they pretend to document that which cannot be documented.
[Gianfranco Piccioli, Producer] He told me part of this story for about ten minutes. Then he stopped talking. I said, "What then?" "Well," he said, "If you want to know how it ends, you'll have to give me a contract. I'll go home, work on it, and we'll finish this thing." And I said, "What do you mean? Are you going to leave me hanging?" And he said, "Well, first of all, I don't even know how it ends. So I don't want to get frustrate by going home to write a screenplay if I don't know who it's for. I need a producer." So began this extraordinary adventure, a fascinating project, lovely, and ahead of its time called Chi illumina la grande notte. With an amazing ending, because we got there, of course. And it was strange. I was very surprised by the fact that Elio, perhaps for the first time, had written a story with a happy ending. So there is this screenplay lying among my papers, and every now and then, I pull it out again. But that was a film that only he could make.
SPECIAL THANKS: Goffredo e Guido Lombardo, Cesarina Marchetti
Giovanna e Andrea Cau
Regia: Federico Bacci, Nicola Guarneri e Stefano Leone
Collaborazione Artistica e Produttore: Paola Petri
Montaggio: Paola Freddi
Assistente al Montaggio: Elsa de Falco Bonomi
Musiche Originali: Simone Soldani
Postproduzione e Colorist: Pierpaolo Murru
Montaggio del Suono: Paolo Lucaferri
Fonico di Mix: Marco Saitta
Postproduzione Sonora: MARBEA - Rome
Missagio Musiche Originali: STUDIO IRIS - Livorno
Assistente di Paola Petri: Lorenzo Del Re
Amministrazione: Studio De Santis
Materiale di Repertorio: Teche RAI, Istituto Luce, Archivio Audiovisivo Movimento Operaio Democratico
SuperOtto e Fotografie: collezione Paola Petri
La Produzione ringrazia inoltre: