L'ora di religione

Italy

Synopsis

Ernesto is a successful artist, an illustrator of fables for children, separated from his wife Irene and father of little Leonardo with whom he has a strong bond.
He learns from the mysterious Don Pugni, secretary to the equally enigmatic Cardinal Piumini, that they want to canonize his mother. Ernesto is struck by this news, not only because it makes him realize how much he has been kept in the dark where his family is concerned, but also because the whole business contrasts with his world as an artist and free atheist. In the space of a few hours, the pressure and the schemes to make him take part in the beatification process grow more intense. Conflicts come to the fore.
His memory of his mother (his mother's smile) opens up a gaping chasm that forces him to reconsider the past and live the present differently.

Director's Statement

For this film, it doesn't seem natural to talk about directing, camera movements, colours inspired by such or such a painter (or none at all),
editing, music, in other words filmic language and style because the style
in this film is what comes "after", "after" an initial image, an initial idea that set the whole story in motion. This image is simple to describe (despite
what the main character refers to as its "absurdity"): an ordinary man, Ernesto Picciafuoco, a painter, receives a visit from a priest who tells him that the beatification process is under way for his mother...
He knows nothing about this and never had the slightest notion of it, even though the whole process was launched more than three years previously... The news overwhelms him.
In addition, this insensitivity, the fact that he didn't sense or perceive the conspiracy under way and the now open attempt to convert him, along
with the aggravating circumstance of his artistic career, cast Ernesto into a
deep depression... or, rather, arouse a latent form of depression... Ernesto can no longer stand himself, he can no longer bear the deep-seated
cynicism and lack of affection that make him resemble his mother, who died tragically many years before... and whose "mortal" smile he now carries, despite his fruitless attempts to wipe it off his face (for a long time, I wavered between the final title "The Time of Religion" and another title, precisely "My Mother's Smile"...)
This secular character, distanced from religion for so long, discovers that he isn't entirely separated from it... Because, the priests would reply, that's impossible.
I have a different view and, sympathizing with the character, in which I recognize a great deal of myself, follow with him the very long but not necessarily endless path of a permanent separation (from the comfort of the Holy Father, "who even so grants the just man, whether he believes or not, a place in paradise," a line that I had to cut from the film and that was pronounced by Cardinal Piumini in his conversation with Ernesto Picciafuoco in the pauper's hostel...).
This is the true suspense that runs throughout the whole film. In this way, "The Time or Religion" could also be defined as a very odd thriller.

Director's Biography

Marco Bellocchio was born in Piacenza in 1939. In 1959, he abandoned his studies in Philosophy at the Catholic University of Milan and enrolled at the Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia in Rome. Between 1961 and 1962, he shot the short films ABBASSO LO ZIO, LA COLPA E LA PENA and GINEPRO FATTO UOMO before moving to London where he attended the Slade School of Fine Arts. His first feature film, FISTS IN THE POCKET, presented at Locarno in 1965, brought him international renown.

His filmography includes:
1967 CHINA IS NEAR
1967 LOVE AND ANGER
1969 PAOLA
1969 VIVA IL PRIMO MAGGIO ROSSO
1971 IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER
1972 SBATTI IL MOSTRO IN PRIMA PAGINA
1974 MATTI DA SLEGARE" - FIT TO BE UNTIED, directed with Silvano Agosti, Sandro Petraglia & Stefano Rulli
1976 VICTORY MARCH
1977 THE SEAGULL
1980 VACANZE IN VAL TREBBIA
1980 LEAP INTO DIE VOID
1982 THE EYES, THE MOUTH
1984 HENRY IV
1986 DEVIL IN THE FLESH
1988 THE SABBATH
1990 THE CONDEMNATION
1994 THE BUTTERFLY'S DREAM
1996 THE PRINCE OF HOMBURG
1999 THE NANNY
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Cast & Crew

Directed by: Marco Bellocchio

Written by: Marco Bellocchio

Produced by: Marco Bellocchio, Sergio Pelone

Cinematography: Pasquale Mari

Editing: Francesca Calvelli

Production Design: Marco Dentici

Costume Design: Sergio Ballo

Original Score: Riccardo Giagni

Main Cast: Sergio Castellitto (Ernesto), Jacqueline Lustig (Irene), Chiara Conti (Diana), Piera degli Esposti (Aunt Maria)

Nominations and Awards

  • People's Choice Award 2002
  • European Director 2002
  • Feature Film Selection 2002