Opening 16 Nov 2023
Writing credits: Marco Bellocchio, Susanna Nicchiarelli, Edoardo Albinati, Daniela Ceselli
Principal actors: Paolo Pierobon, Fausto Russo Alesi, Barbara Ronchi, Enea Sala, Leonardo Maltese
Edgardo Mortara (Enea Sala), comes from a Jewish family living in Bologna, Italy. The family’s cleaning lady, Anna Morisi (Aurora Camatti), secretly baptizes him as an infant. Six years later the local priest, Father Feletti, who is informed about this baptism, decides it’s time for Edgardo to live in his “own” —namely Christian—environment. On June 24, 1858, the Catholic Church sends soldiers to kidnap Edgardo and he is forced to grow up in a convent, separated from his parents and his eight siblings. A bit of a celebrity, he is introduced to Pope Pius IX (Paolo Pierobon) in Rome, who gives him a necklace with a crucifix. His father Salomone Momolo Mortara desperately seeks, finds, but cannot retrieve him. Neighbors in the Jewish community protest. It becomes a political issue with several European countries attempting to reverse the situation. Ten years later we meet a grown-up Edgardo (Leonardo Maltese), who is studying to be a priest. He is confronted by his oldest brother Ricardo, now a soldier. Eventually, he re-meets his mother, Marianne; there can be reunification only if the family becomes Christian.
This Italian film Kidnapped (or the original title Rapito—which I saw in Italian with German subtitles) premiered at the 2023 Cannes Film Festival. Based on a true story, it follows the events amazingly precisely, 1858-1878, even using the actual names of those involved. We experience the Senigallia Cathedral, beautiful paintings of Jesus, and a visit between the rabbi and the pope. Travelling in the mid-1800s is by horse and buggy or boat. I definitely recommend the film, not only for the excellent actors, but especially as an opportunity to learn about history: kidnapping, which occurred frequently in those years, as well as the Catholic Church. (Becky Tan)