Just like Damiano Damiani's The Devil Is a Woman and Silvano Agosti's In the Highest of Skies, In the Name of the Father explores the idea of rebelling against the Catholic orthodoxy and establishing a new paradigm on the basis of a creative destruction of the pillars of the church. However, unlike in the aforementioned titles, Marco "Fists in the Pocket" Bellocchio at least strikes a slightly optimistic tone. Albeit one that comes with a warning.
The film, an approximation to Lindsay Anderson's If...., sees wealthy students and servants rebelling against the hierarchy of strict religious boarding school with its militaristic uniforms and overbearing anti-scientific worldview. While viewers see cars through a window in an early scene, there is little in the way of acknowledgement of a changing world beyond the gates. Though a brief glimpse of a television set reporting the death of Pius XII emphasises a crumbling established order.
While the film is largely dark, emphasising the frugal and traditional surroundings, a subversive, bright and bloody play by the students contains imagery that would not be forgotten by viewers in a hurry. This is, truly, an incredible film and is as least as subversive as Bellocchio's Slap the Monster on Page One.
Lou "Nino" Castel takes a small supporting role and shines with every moment he is onscreen. It was unfortunate that he did not get the international recognition he deserved. See it!