19 March 2016 | oOgiandujaOo_and_Eddy_Merckx
Pacifist stuck in the middle
After the "Battle of Valle Giulia" in the historic year of 1968, the film director Pasolini famously declared that he had more sympathy with the police than the protesting students, as the police were the children of the poor, and the students the children of the middle and upper classes. There is an implied reference to this at the start of La Pacifista, a plea from a generation of radical students who wanted to not be dismissed just because of the privileges of their upbringing.
There are radical groups from the right and the left in the movie. In between them is "La Pacifista", Barbara, played by the glorious Monica Vitti, who just wants to be an earth mother, in love with everyone. A right wing group of youths plan malfeasance against her. They come off as a fairly tribal group, fascinated with ritual, degenerating into a death cult.
I haven't been able to find much written about the movie, it seems that it has been ignored or found confusing (or indeed confused), and the overall impression is generally negative. It's definitely challenging and ambitious, and it feels like you have to go some to suspend disbelief. The movie presents a partially choreographed version of reality, a technique that goes full blown a couple of years later with Janco's Red Psalm; this is very visually appealing, although it's very hard to pin down why it's being done, except that it definitely reinforces the tribal nature of some of what is going on.
The most ambitious technique is to voice the thoughts of some of the characters via narration. It is a lot easier to make actions believable than it is to make thoughts believable. Sometimes I was not exactly clear which character's thoughts were being narrated, due to the tableau focus of some of the camera work. One of the right wing revolutionaries for example seems to have some concerns about his girlfriend being Jewish, or ex girlfriend, and how that conflicts with his ideology, but which one? Much of the movie focuses on Monica Vitti, who portrays a journalist covering the demonstrations. We hear a lot of her character's thoughts. It's difficult to sometimes tell what is going on there, because it often sounds like two characters, and this could be two sides of herself, or it could be that she is having a dialogue with her imagination of her mother or another relative or friend.
The revolutionary events of the movie seem very alien to her, and in fact the movie seems to become quite feminist, because she as a woman is generally ignored or seen as hysterical.
In the end I think the main message of the film is that you can't ignore fascists, you have to fight against them, pacifism is not an option. This seems rather tagged on by the final few scenes of the film, and a rather factional message in this particular case, given how useless and imploding the fascist group seems. Generally it's a very messy film and I can see why it has been dismissed. It is however a good looking and ambitious movie so I give it points for that.