In the Name of the Father / Nel nome del padre (1971)

4.5 out of 5

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!

Maurizio Merli header graphic courtesy of Paddy O'Neill of Foxyfide Graphics