Marco Bellocchio’s explosive debut feature—a macabrely funny, full frontal assault on Catholic family values and other forms of Italian patriarchy—has lost none of its sting, or its brilliant filmmaking fervor, in the five decades since its original release. In a ferocious performance of Brando-like physicality, 22-year-old Lou Castel stars as Alessandro, the scion of a once-prominent Italian family now languishing in a state of grotesque lethargy. Systematically, he attempt to rid his brother Augusto—the only family member not afflicted by blindness, epilepsy or madness—of all that stands between him and a life of freedom.
“In an attempt to break away from the usual analytical and descriptive methods of narration, the director has boldly chosen to objectify hi story of adolescent anguish by portraying normal problems in abnormal terms: epilepsy, murder, incest—each is an expression, by intensification, of teen-age torment.”
—NYFF3 program note
Photo: The Kobal Collection