But I immediately realized (on that very day, December 16, 2016) that this nostalgic memorialization of the past was not a source of joy to me or to my brothers and sisters, and that it didn’t interest me anymore.
It was Camillo, talking about Camillo, that interested me. I had already talked about him in my 1981 film The Eyes, the Mouth, changing his name to Pippo. But that film was really about myself, the surviving twin. And since I was completely under the spell of Fagioli, I wanted to give the film and myself a positive conclusion, an ultimate “wholesomeness.” Redemption. To put it simply, the movie had to have a happy ending.
Indeed, the film’s surviving twin, insensitive and self-centered, falls in love with Pippo’s fiancée (after initially despising her). He even protects the child growing in her womb, Pippo’s child, thus taking his place in life.
That movie was born under the sign of non-freedom, of fear (of working in fear, which leads to failure in art), including the fear of displeasing my mother who was still alive, my brothers, of not adhering to Fagioli’s principles – all ghosts that I myself was conjuring since no one stopped me from doing anything.
In contrast, Marx Can Wait came together bit by bit over a span of five years, shot, conceived, and assembled during spare time between one film and another (I’m talking about normal films made with crews of 50 people). I didn’t have any definite commitments, in part because it didn’t cost very much. I chased down the surviving witnesses (many had died in the meantime, their precious memories gone forever) and concentrated in particular on interviews with relatives, sisters, brothers, in-laws, children, grandchildren. It is their recollections that give the film its sense of tragic and – typical for us Bellocchios – sublimely ironic intimacy.
Interviews carefully combined with photographs, short Super-8 films of Camillo that miraculously turned up, paintings, and clips from a few of my movies that highlight, albeit only metaphorically, an almost obvious truth: creativity begins with our own lives, with how we have lived, in a melodramatic register that is more Chekhovian than Shakespearean – even if it’s not easy to find melodrama in Chekhov (perhaps in a hysterical, grotesque key).
The psychiatrist and the priest are also important, representing the two constant themes of my life after the meteor of politics fizzled out: madness and the Catholic Church, my Catholic upbringing, many traces of which still remain in me (despite constant attempts to free myself from them). The double blasphemy of L’ora di religione (My Mother’s Smile) is the stamp of this condition of mine.