2010’s best film in the David di Donatello award competition was “L’Uomo Che Verrà (the man that will come). Although this one is not yet available in a US format, Neflix shows it as something that will be available at a future date and allows you to put it in a queue. (Maybe if enough of us do it they’ll see there is a demand for Italian films). It’s been subtitled in English and the original had to be subtitled even in Italian because the dialect, that of central Italy near Bologna, is so strong. If the Italian subtitles hadn’t been available to me I wouldn’t have understood very much of it. L’Uomo Che Verrà tells the story of the Marzabotto massacre, a mass murder of at least 770 civilians by Germans in a mountainous area south of Bologna, the worst massacre of civilians in Italy during the war.
Told from the perspective of Martina, an 8-year-old girl who stopped talking when her little brother died, the movie is much more than just a war story. It’s beautifully filmed, and especially those with relatives from Europe will appreciate the level of detail in the depiction of the townspeople’s lives. Their simple homes, the food they’re eating, their dress, and their Catholic faith are all shown with great thoroughness and care. Martina, through her silence,sees everything, and when she tries to write about it in school, the teacher calls her mother in, the essay is burned, and she gets a slap for it. Keeping your mouth shut is the wisest thing to do in this situation.
Times are tough in Martina’s village and the Nazi’s have put the screws to everyone, but Martina’s family is among the poorest . The resistance is making waves, the Germans are closing in, and all the while Martina’s pregnant mother and the rest of her family are just trying not to starve. On the day that her brother is born, the Germans decide enough is enough and,calling women, children and the elderly “bandits”, began rounding them up.
Although Martina and her family are fictional the story is true, and many of the characters in the movie were actual people who lived during the massacre. Told with surprisingly measured sentimentality, it is a stark and realistic story of war, but at the same time shows us what life was like for normal people during that time. I liked especially the hopeful title, and seeing the future in the “man that will come.”
It stars Maya Sansa (Good Morning, Night) and Alba Rohrwacher (I am Love), and if you have a region free DVD player you can get it right now from Amazon and of course from ibs.it . I’ll let you know when it becomes available for rental in the US.