BLOOD OF MY BLOOD (“Sangue del Mio Sangue,”2015, Italy / France / Switzerland)

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SANGUE DEL MIO SANGUE || 2015, Italy / France / Switzerland || Drama || Directed by – Marco Bellocchio / Written by – Marco Bellocchio / Produced by – Beppe Caschetto, Fabio Conversi, Gabriella de Gara, Simone Gattoni, Alessio Lazzareschi, Tiziana Soudani / Music by – Carlo Crivelli / Cinematography – Daniele Cipri / Edited by – Francesca Calvelli, Claudio Misantoni / Production design – Andrea Castorina / Costume design – Daria Calvelli / Starring – Roberto Herlitzka, Pier Giorgio Bellocchio, Alba Rohrwacher / Running time: 106 mins.

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“Blood of My Blood (Sangue del Mio Sangue)” by Marco Bellocchio (2015, Italy / France / Switzerland)

Marco Bellocchio’s Blood of My Blood finds further resonance in the title because it fundamentally represents many of the characteristics that define his works; the good ones as well as the bad ones.

The film is split into two parts. In the first part, a man named Federico Mai travels to the Italian town of Bobbio to assist the harrowing witch trial sustained by a young nun. His interest in the trial is due to its outcome being vital in determining whether his priest prother, who committed suicide, should be allowed to be buried on holy grounds, as it might prove his “unholy” deed to have been the outcome of a pact with the devil, instigated by a third party. Around the half-way mark, the film cuts to some four hundred years later, when a man by the same name re-enters the monestary, apparently abandoned, in modern times. His aim is to sell it to a Russian billionaire. Little does he know that the building is now home to an ageing vampire who has no wish to leave his quarters.

The storyline split in Blood of My Blood is narratively drastic and simultaneously nonchalant. More than the narrative arch itself, the two stories are held together by feelings, emotions and thematic observations. The first two are taken care of subtly but significantly through the exploration of the setting of Bobbio, a medieval Italian town where earthly and even administrative matters are linked directly to esoteric, mysterious activities and secret societies. Furthermore, each frame in the film is stunningly shot, and the use of chiaroscuro lighting techniques makes it beautiful and enhances this mysterious charge. The use of choir versions of songs by Metallica is also among the nice stylistic touches linking the film’s two different time-spans together.

Thematically, however, the film’s outcome is much less satisfactory. There is provocation to be found in the events that take place during the film, some of which draw inspiration from delicate subjects such as power corruptability and dangerous ethics of the Catholic Church. It might even be implied that the Church and the dark secret sect, and the ways in which they orchestrate things, might make one and the same thing. It may also be implied that Federico Mai could be the man whose moral susceptibility and weaknesses make him neither a hero nor an antihero, simply a product of his times, indirectly manipulated by a wider way in which things are influenced whether in the 17th century or modern times. However, all of these elements feel inconclusive because Bellocchio leaves the film far too open, and as a result, unsatisfactory. The use of familiar elements usually seen in genre films is intriguing, but Blood of My Blood‘s outcome is far too loose and not entirely rewarding. – 3/5

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