The remarkable career of Marco Bellocchio, director of an impressive number of features, documentaries, and shorts for both television and cinema, has encompassed a wide range of genres and subjects. Yet his work remains distinctive and personal, reflecting his uncompromising views and artistic ambition. During his 50-year career Bellocchio has questioned prevailing ideologies, confronted the church and the radical left in equal measure, and challenged notions of morality and family in a manner that has established him as one of Italy’s most important filmmakers and, along with Bernardo Bertolucci and Pier Paolo Pasolini, a leading cultural figure for successive generations of Italians.
His directorial debut, Fists in the Pocket (1965)—a major shock to both Italian cinema and society, and a prophetic precursor to the student revolutions of the late 1960s—contains many of the themes Bellocchio would explore throughout his career, and established his reputation as a controversial director, one who consistently confronts the sociopolitical issues that define a particular moment. The director has challenged the powers that be, the censors, and sometimes even audiences by confronting psychoanalysis, patriarchy, sexuality, women’s roles, the family, the church, politics, the press, the right to die, anarchy, and terrorism, among other themes—lending to each his intelligence and distinct interpretation. Clearly enamored by the possibilities of visual expression and mastering his craft, he has continued to forcefully push the boundaries of cinematic expression throughout his career.
In collaboration with Luce Cinecittà, MoMA presents new and restored 35mm prints of most of Marco Bellocchio’s cinematic productions, from his earliest films to his latest, revealing a particularly rich oeuvre in contemporary Italian filmmaking.
Marco Bellocchio: A Retrospective is presented by The Museum of Modern Art, New York, in collaboration with Luce Cinecittà, Rome. Organized by Jytte Jensen, Curator, Department of Film, MoMA, and Camilla Cormanni and Paola Ruggiero, Luce Cinecittà; with thanks to Dave Kehr, Adjunct Curator, Department of Film, MoMA.
Films courtesy of Emerging Pictures, IFC Films, Istituto Luce Cinecittà, Janus Films, New Yorker Films, Rai Cinema, Rai Trade, Ripley’s Film, Surf Film, Swank, and Tamasa.