Because of an accident, Michele (a leader of P.C.I. and a water-polo player) loses his memory. During one water-polo match, strange guys torment him; they want him to remember his past. As ... See full summary »
Because of an accident, Michele (a leader of P.C.I. and a water-polo player) loses his memory. During one water-polo match, strange guys torment him; they want him to remember his past. As the match is about to finish, he misses the penalty which would have let his team draw the match and keep the leadership. Written by
Roberto Cavenaghi <email@example.com>
This film is deeply enmeshed in the political culture of Italy, and, in particular, in the culture and politics of that party once known as the Italian Communist Party (PCI). Although you don't need an understanding of this context to enjoy the film, your appreciation of it is certainly enhanced by knowing where Moretti is coming from.
Throughout the film the protagonist, Michele, reiterates a phrase that captures a good deal of the identity of the PCI: `We're the same, but we're different.' The PCI claimed, on the one hand, that it was like any other party: it sought to arrive at power by winning a consensus at the polls and electing its candidates to public office--a party with just as much right as any other (`of equal constitutional dignity') to exercise power within a democratic state. On the other hand, the party said that it was different from all the others because it wanted to use state power in order to bring about a transformation of the existing social and economic order: to build a society in which the exploitativeness, irrationality, all-pervasive commercialism, environmental degradation, and social injustice characteristic of capitalism would be gradually overcome. The party was in the system, but not of the system. This, then, was a party that appealed to the dreams of many idealistic Italians to create a better world to live in (party membership fluctuated between 1.5 and 2 million--and the party saw its percentage of the vote rise in every election for 30 years, cresting in '76 at about 35%).
But as the party got closer to being brought into the government, the tightrope act became more and more tortuous--hence, all of those very contorted "party lines" articulated by Michele in which he attempts to explain why the party should be brought into the government (and why there was nothing to fear from the party), while still holding on to the notion that the party stood for opposition to the existing social order. And that's why another constant refrain in the film is Michele's `I remember': he remembers not only things from his own past, but also a time when the party really seemed to stand for the traditional ideals of the Left.
Now the PCI looks pretty much like any other party, and it no longer even calls itself a party, thus distancing itself from its Marxist-Leninist past: its name today is the unthreatening `Democrats of the Left.' And millions of progressive Italians feel adrift now that they have no party as the repository of their idealism--a sense of desperation expressed beautifully by Michele when he cries out, `Di qualcosa di sinistra' (`Just say something leftist').
By the way, the English title given to the film (`The Red Wood Pigeon') makes absolutely no sense. `Palombella' refers to that shot in water polo we would call a `soft lob' and `rossa' =`red'. So a `palombella rossa' is a `red lob,' symbolizing the kind of soft landing that the PCI sought for its revolutionary program.
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