- 1h 50m
The real story of Placido Rizzotto, a trade union leader murdered by the mafia in Sicily in 1948The real story of Placido Rizzotto, a trade union leader murdered by the mafia in Sicily in 1948The real story of Placido Rizzotto, a trade union leader murdered by the mafia in Sicily in 1948
Placido Rizzotto is visually and emotionally intense.
There is a growing sub-genre in Italian cinema comprised of films that treat the oppression of the Sicilian proletariat by the Mafia. Such films as Placido Rizzotto, I Cento Passi, and Il Guidice Raggazino are disturbing representations of the violent struggle between the poor laborers, descendants of the peasants who worked the stubborn Sicilian soil since time immemorial, and their newest overlords, the seemingly omnipotent local Mafia families. Placido Rizzotto, based on historical fact, is a particularly memorable contribution to this sub-genre, and to contemporary Italian cinema in general, not only because of the strength of its social comment, but because it unfolds its tightly written narrative against a backdrop of remarkable visual intensity. The contrasts of the Sicilian sky and earth, the forests and crags, the crumbling ruins, the leaning houses create a tension that carries a silent subtext of violence past and violence yet to come. When we first see the young Placido, his father is being carried off their small plot of dry red earth by the carabinieri. Time telescopes. It is the end of the German Occupation and the now Partisan Placido is racing through dense green woods in a futile attempt to save the lives of four peasants being hanged by German soldiers who are enjoying the lovely forest by combining the execution with a picnic. Placido returns to his village when the war ends and becomes the leader of a growing rebellion against the local Mafia landowners. Now it is the narrow, twisted streets of the town that reiterate the convoluted conspiracy that results in Placido's assassination. The facts of the murder gradually emerge under the persistent investigation by the local police Captain. Sentences are passed, but for Placido's death there is no closure. He is never memorialized by the town. His remains are never buried. This film is his cenotaph. Superbly acted and deftly scored, Placido Rizzotto presents a tragedy that is neither easy to watch nor easy to forget.
- Jan 12, 2002
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