Habemus Papam, We Have a Pope Nanni Moretti

by Marianne Wi

At last it has been released, the long-awaited film by Nanni Moretti “Habemus Papam”, “We Have a Pope”. A Black Comedy of the kind not often seen in Italy; I was ready with my lightly salted popecorn (sorry could not resist) and loosely fitted clothing, barely resisting bringing my slippers, ready to spend the evening in blessed company. Well let me set the scene for you; Aci Reale, Sicily the film broke down as in lights being turned on 3  times during showing,  a mobile went off 4 times, same person who noisily went outside to talk, then returned just as noisily to tell his friend about the conversation, one brave man said “zitti” to no avail, murder however wrong was tempting and really would have been the only solution, then we had the 8 minute intervallo with adverts, I kid you not. I rather enjoyed the film but then I am not Italian, not Catholic and I just love Nanni Moretti.

Director : There are an awful lot that can be said and written about Nanni Moretti, you either love him or hate him, one thing is for sure he is known by everyone in Italy and his films are doing extremely well, not only at International Film Festivals, they are also released independently abroad. I was at the BFI in London when The Caiman was first screened, Moretti had flown over to participate in a Q & A usually a 30 minute affair led by Adrian Wotton, as we all know Festivals are often running late and when Moretti realised he would only have 15 minutes on stage, he decided to do a striptease, he started by removing his belt, then unbuttoning his trouses very slowly, then began taking them down……… I saw genuine fear in Wotton’s face, Moretti then stopped and laughed, he has balls our Italian director although we did not actually see them.

Moretti grew up in Rome and had two passions in his teenage years, his love for the Cinema and his unquenchable thirst for water-polo, he was for a period of time playing for the National Youth Team. Moretti was and still is very much anti Berlusconi and many believe that the film Il Caimano, The Caiman was about our beloved Italian PM and that it played a major role in him losing the election back in 2006. Moretti owns his very own cinema in Trastevere a quint area of Rome it is called Cinema Nuovo Sacher and is worth a visit if you are around those parts.

Moretti has produced, written screenplays, acted and directed many films here are those he is best known for :  Caro diario, Dear Diary 1993 –  Aprile, April  1998 –  La stanza del figlio, The Son’s Room  2001 and Il caimano, The Caiman 2006.

Habemus Papam, We Have a Pope was shot in Rome and Cinecitta, the Vatican refused access to the Sistine Chapel which had to be recreated in Cinecitta studios also, the beautiful Palazzo Farnese, currently housing the French Embassy was used during filming.

Cast : Nanni Moretti, Michel Piccoli, Margherita Buy, Roberto Nobile, Jerzy Stuhr, Massimo Dobrovic, Franco Graziosi, Leonardo Della Bianca

Synopsis : We start by following the election of the new Pope by the Cardinals gathered from all over the world, they must remain inside the Vatican without access to the outside, until such time as the new Pope has been presented to the people even mobile phones are confiscated. Most of the Cardinal’s are praying that they will be passed over for the job and some look keen too keen. Our new Pope Melville (Michel Piccoli) has been elected Habemus Papam, We Have a Pope, a reluctant Pope with a mountain of self-doubt, deep depression and worried about the enormity of his responsibilities, a pope as it turned out would rather have been an Actor. We are on the balcony, the people are on Saint Peters Square in their 1000s, Billions are watching on TV, when the anguished cry from Melville rings out and frankly all hell breaks loose. Enter psychiatrist Brezzi (Nanni Moretti) the best in his field so good that even his wife  also a psychiatrist divorced him for that reason alone.

The new Pope is offered first help by Brezzi, then outside help in the form of Brezzi’s ex-wife (Margerita Buy). Melville does not return to the Vatican after the first visit, leaving the “Spin Doctors” in chaos, instead he roams the streets of Rome unrecognised, I am sure there is a story very much like that of a rich prince or king doing the same. There are trials and many tribulations to follow before the end. I think Moretti was gentle with the Church and the Vatican, yes he mentioned what we all know that inside the Vatican petrol is cheaper, they have medicines which are not offered to the people of Rome as they are too costly, however as a whole I think they got of lightly. Habemus Papam, We Have a Pope has like all Morettis films opened to mixed reviews, it is in competition at this years Cannes Film Festival opening on the 11th May 2011.

Moretti at Cannes read blog dated 14.04.11 here

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