'In Italy the dead rule': Marco Bellocchio's 'Italian difference' between Manzoni-Camerini and Bene Godard Academic Article uri icon


  • In his film The Wedding Director (2006), Marco Bellocchio expresses his view of the Italian difference that demarcates this national tradition from others with the refrain In Italy the dead rule. This adage is repeated throughout his film and provides the motivation behind it. For Bellocchio, the dead in question belong primarily, though not solely, to the Italian parochial heritage exemplified by Alessandro Manzonis The Betrothed (1840), and in particular by Mario Camerinis film adaptation of the same novel (1941). In The Wedding Director, Bellocchio enacts yet another, albeit eclectic, adaptation of these palimpsests, desecrating them and the values they supposedly stand for. Crowned by a happy ending, The Wedding Director surpasses its targets, advocating for their visual and conceptual inadequacy. This essay analyzes Bellocchios film using a theoretical approach that I see articulated in two critical texts and four creative instances. Firstly, I analyze The Wedding Director in light of the concepts that Gilles Deleuze used for Carmelo Benes adaptations of classic works; secondly, through Richard Neers 2007 reflections on Jean-Luc Godards Histoire(s) du cinma. My analyses result in a dual interpretation of Bellocchios film. I argue that in The Wedding Director Bellocchio enters into conversation with and implements the ideas of the intellectuals and artists mentioned above. He sets off from the conclusion of Federico Fellinis 8 1/2. Nevertheless, The Wedding Director is also marred by ambiguities that, although perhaps unavoidable, detract from his accomplishments. Those ambivalences involve the issue of gender relations, which as Bellocchio himself declares are at the core of his concerns in The Wedding Director. I argue that on the one hand Bellocchios film is an empowering Deleuzian or Godardian adaptation of Manzonis source text. On the other, it may also be construed as professing an opportunistic, if not downright cynical, view of gender relations. While the film presents the audience with a principled Deleuzian becoming-minority as a becoming-woman, it nonetheless declines the responsibility of distinguishing victim from perpetrator. By leaving this issue an open question for the audience to decide, the film renders the question ultimately insoluble. The goals that Bellocchio professes and the diagnosis he offers in The Wedding Director are valuable and deserve credit. Without question, the film is a stunning cinematographic feat. However, a self-indulgent streak undercuts the viewers satisfaction. Unless we surpass irony (as the film attempts), we, regardless of our gender, will hardly be free from the hold of the dead, be they Italian or of any other nationality.

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • Marchesini, M.

citation count

  • 0

publication date

  • November 2014