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Il Divo


Year: 2009 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: Unknown 
Certificate: BBFC 15 Cert – Not suitable for under 15s 
Subtitles: It is expected that this film is fully subtitled. 
Directed by Paolo Sorrentino 
Starring: Toni Servillo, Anna Bonaiuto, Piera Fegli Esposti, Paolo Graziosi  
An image from Il Divo

Whilst not very well-known in England, the history of twentieth century Italy is fascinating: it revolves around very few but very strong figureheads. Giulio Andreotti is one of those figureheads and has had some political power since 1946, including seven terms as prime minister. Il Divo is about that man who seemed to be like a God, untouchable and all-powerful, and about Italy under his rule. It brings to the screen both the Red Brigades, against whom Andreotti fought, and the Mafia who allegedly had ties with the politician.

Il Divo's story is complex because it is trying to encompass all the intricacies of Italian policies. However, it is not closed to people with little knowledge of Italian politics: indeed, the first few moments of the film are spent explaining who the key people are. Surprisingly enough, this overview is sufficient to grasp just why Andreotti and his friends matter. The rest of the film can then follow on easily enough.

The ease, however, lies in the grasping of the plot, not in the watching. Throughout, the atmosphere is tense and dark - not an artistic dark brought in to emphasise heroism on behalf of the protagonist, rather a darkness because of the lack of such heroism. In Il Divo, there is no hero, no one to identify with except the camera. The audience is made to feel like the powerless citizens who are desperate to do something but can't.

The one word that encapsulates Il Divo is therefore fascinating: because it is about the life of a fascinating and influential person, and because it is, simply put, a masterpiece, which will not only interest Italy aficionados.

Pierre Schramm

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Screenings of this film:

2009/2010 Autumn Term (35mm)