The Little World of Don Camillo
- 1h 47min
A determined priest and a Communist mayor develop a grudging friendship in spite of their official rivalry.A determined priest and a Communist mayor develop a grudging friendship in spite of their official rivalry.A determined priest and a Communist mayor develop a grudging friendship in spite of their official rivalry.
The Catholics and the communists are battling for the soul of a small village. It's to be hoped that neither side ever wins. Nor is it likely that either side ever will win. This would spoil everyone's fun.
The communist mayor, is, so to speak, the Anglican of the two: someone who will gruffly talk about burning all the capitalists, while letting it be understood that he doesn't really intend his words to be taken literally. The priest (Don Camillo) is hot-headed, as fiercely loyal to the Catholic Church as the mayor is to his party, at once highly intelligent and preternaturally simple minded. He's the kind of Catholic who avoids absurdity by the time-honoured trick of simply not thinking about the doctrines to which he officially subscribes. His `prayers' are impromptu conversations with Jesus, or perhaps simply with the icon of Jesus that hangs on his wall - whichever it is, the film humours his fancy by having Jesus (or the icon) talk back to him. To this day I'm not sure if Jesus (or the icon) is REALLY talking back, or if it's just Don Camillo's imagination. What does it matter? It is, after all, no more than a private eccentricity. It's not as if he talks to or about Jesus in PUBLIC.
No one - not atheists, not communists, not Christians, not Norse pagans - could object to the film's big-hearted fantasy, or fail to like either of the two very likeable protagonists. I gather there are several sequels: the one I've seen isn't nearly as good; and the original feels so much like an archetype that I suspect any sequel would be little more than a footnote.
- May 25, 2000