Bologna, 1858. The Pope’s soldiers burst into a Jewish family. On the orders of the city inquisitor, they came to take Edgardo, a 7-year-old boy, baptized without his family’s knowledge. In the name of canon law prevailing at the time, the child was taken from his parents in order to receive a Catholic education.
This affair, which caused a stir throughout the European continent, took place under the pontificate of Pius IX and in the midst of the Risorgimento (Italian unification). Marco Bellocchio – whose cinema relentlessly questions forms of power – deploys a striking and dark aesthetic in this film.
Screened at the last Cannes Film Festival, the work aroused numerous reactions in Italy, including that of the editorial director of the Vatican media who declared that “this case could not be repeated today because, after the Second Vatican Council, the perspective has changed profoundly. A council which in fact affirmed the right to religious freedom and opened the way to dialogue between faithful Catholics and Jews.