jueves, 8 de mayo de 2008

Il caso Mattei

Francesco Rosi made three films that are generally considered among his very best: Il caso Mattei (The Mattei Affair, 1972), Lucky Luciano (1973) and Cadaveri eccellenti (Illustrious Corpses, 1976), all three, in interestingly different ways, reactivating the investigative cinematic style that Rosi had forged in Giuliano. Like the bandit Giuliano, Enrico Mattei had been a powerful and charismatic public figure in Italy in the immediate postwar era. Appointed to wind up the Italian Petroleum Agency, he had instead expanded it and used the new company, ENI, to both explore new sources of energy for Italy and to create a personal power base within the Italian political scene. Machiavellian and idealistic at the same time, Mattei openly used the company's funds to bribe politicians of all persuasions to support its ventures. An energetic and astute entrepreneur, Mattei resented the big American companies' control over oil prices and so initiated direct discussions with Russia and with a number of Arab countries in order to procure cheaper oil for Italy and, in the process, a better deal for the producing countries. Thus, by the early 1960s, Mattei had become a thorn in the side of both the American oil companies and the American government and his political machinations had also created a number of powerful enemies at home. Then, in 1962, at the very height of his power and influence, Mattei was killed when his private plane crashed just outside Milan. The official version held that the plane had simply gone down in bad weather but this ignored the testimony of a number of eyewitnesses who claimed that the plane had exploded in mid-air before plunging to earth. As he had done in Giuliano, in Il caso Mattei Rosi employs a non-linear investigative mode which allows him to bring together, often paratactically or in juxtaposition, a range of disparate materials, both real and fictionally recreated, in an attempt to get closer to the truth. As in Giuliano, Rosi's strategy prompts the viewer to notice a number of possible connections and motivated complicities but without supplying any exclusive or definitive interpretation. Significantly, at one point in the film the investigation of Mattei's death ten years earlier comes to be intertwined with the contemporary investigation of the disappearance of a journalist who was working with Rosi on the film at the Sicilian end, exploring the possible involvement of the Mafia. The journalist, De Mauro, in fact was never seen again, so that the film, quite literally, created more questions than it answered.

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