Todo Modo. 1976. Italy/France. Directed by Elio Petri. In Italian; English subtitles. 125 min.
Screenplay by Petri, Berto Pelosso, Leonardo Sciascia, based on Sciascia’s novel. With Gian Maria Volonté, Marcello Mastroianni, Renato Salvatori, Michel Piccoli. After he laid bare the rampant corruption, spiritual bankruptcy, and violent chaos of 1970s Italy—the notoriously grim gli anni di piombo (years of lead)—in films like Investigation of a Citizen above Suspicion and The Working Class Goes to Heaven, Petri transformed Sciascia’s metaphysical mystery novel, Todo Modo, into a defiant and lugubrious satire of the Christian Democrat Party. Volonté plays a thinly veiled caricature of party leader and power broker Aldo Moro, holed up with his cronies and rivals at a monastic retreat where they plot their political fortunes while being led by a Jesuit cleric (Mastroianni) in spiritual cleansings. Todo Modo struck too close to home—Alberto Moravia sneered at its Dantean depiction of the Italian ruling class “in a grotesquely apocalyptic setting, as a clique of dead souls in bodies only provisionally still alive”—and the film largely disappeared from view when, two years after its release, Moro was kidnapped and murdered by the Red Brigades. Now, thanks to a digital restoration by Cineteca di Bologna and the Museo Nazionale del Cinema di Torino, in collaboration with Surf Film, Todo Modo returns to its rightful place in the canon of political cinema.