A Sicilian widow earns her living as a clairvoyant, in Milan, but she hasn't got any power at all. Her son instead holds supernatural powers and with the help of his mother he becomes a ... See full summary »

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Cast

Cast overview:
...
Mamma
Maurizio Degli Esposti ...
Son
...
Brenda
Rosaria
Dario Vigano
Gianfranco Pozzi
Anarella De Faveri
Renato Paracchi
Giovanni Ricci
Ferruccio Fantini
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A Sicilian widow earns her living as a clairvoyant, in Milan, but she hasn't got any power at all. Her son instead holds supernatural powers and with the help of his mother he becomes a strong sorcerer. But he fails perhaps to understand the real strength he possesses inside and unbinds uncontrolled forces that lead people that surround him to go mad. Written by davide

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6 April 1972 (Italy)  »

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Tricky but fascinating Italian surrealist horror
7 November 2011 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

One of the more obscure of Italian horrors that are still accessible, and understandably if not deservedly so, Arcana is tricky stuff. Nominally a horror film though cleaving more towards the work of Bunuel and his like, more concerned with unravelling the structures that underpin modern living than freaking out the audience. The film announces itself at the outset, what is about to unfold is not a story but a game of cards, the opening and epilogue purposefully unbelievable the aim for the audience to play well and win out in the end. So from the start one knows to pay attention, to look out for bluff and stake, for hand and poker face, this symbolic endeavour becoming literal when Tarot cards begin to figure in the plot. Well its more of a concept, its components and tangents than a conventional story, a study in a mother and son who use psychic powers to provide solace to Romes rich and needy, the mother perhaps a fraud, the son true wielder of power chafing against life and surroundings. Others are drawn in to this arrangement, strange desires are revealed as well as some pretty strange and occasionally disturbing events, but its not so much a plotted film as themed (fate, truth and falsehood, industrial decay etc), the story breaking apart in the second half to hatch meaning from confusion. Its interesting stuff albeit rather slow, powerfully brought to life by Maurizio degli Espositi as Son and Lucia Bose as Mamma. The former brings a constant feel of clammy, detached malignity, the latter affecting in a run down and rough hewn, sneaky but practical manner. They play well off each other, with unsettling undercurrents reaching a head around the halfway mark with a chilling act of violence. Writer director Giulio Questi fortunately is a master of his imagery, so though the pace is slow and visuals restrained they are near perfectly chosen, around half the strange sights contributing to the themes of the film, the other half the uncanny weirdness sprung forth from these themes. Like the bones that Son find peeking from wasteground to the backdrop of bleak tower blocks, symbol of rot just beneath city skin, compared with a bizarre incident involving frogs, expression of revolution. A little more the way of events would have gone a long way in this one, as though appropriate, the final block is lacking a little in impact. There aren't enough real jolts and though things are generally creepy enough to earn the tag of horror it really is on the fringes. And whilst an overarching theme emerges there are interesting currents that go underexplored, bits and pieces that could have been better developed. Still a film that rather fascinated me and one that has played long in my mind in the ten or so days since I saw it. One for fans of the stranger end of Italian horror and surrealism outright, others may be less impressed.


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