Satirical film targets Italy's Andreotti

Fri May 23, 2008 9:48am EDT
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By James Mackenzie

CANNES, France (Reuters) - The great survivor of Italian politics, Giulio Andreotti, is shown as a cold, solitary but often comic figure at the heart of a corrupt system in a satirical new film by Italian director Paolo Sorrentino.

"Il Divo" (The Star), being shown at the Cannes film festival, shows Andreotti at the end of his long career as accusations begin to mount that an intricate system of patronage he had built to keep power was linked ultimately to the mafia.

Coming after Matteo Garrone's "Gomorra" (Gomorrah), about the Naples Camorra, it is the second film at the festival to examine the role of organized crime in Italy.

But it uses humor and symbolism rather than the gritty realism of Garrone's film to underline the grotesque perversion of a system in which, as Andreotti explains, "evil is necessary so that good can exist."

"Italy is different from other countries because of the occult side of power," Sorrentino told a news conference after the film's screening. "Power is not as transparent as in other countries and that's very specific to Italy," he said.

Andreotti, part of the Italian political establishment since 1947, was a seemingly permanent fixture as prime minister, foreign minister, interior minister or eminence grise as one shaky government coalition succeeded another.

Dry, inscrutable and apparently indestructible, he was once described by former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher as having "a positive aversion to principle."

Now a senator for life, he was tried but acquitted on charges of mafia associations after the so-called "Clean Hands" corruption investigations of the 1990s brought down much of the established political order in Italy.   Continued...

<p>Italian director Paolo Sorrentino (R) poses with cast members from (L-R) Massimo Popolizio, Toni Servillo and Piera Degli Esposti during a photocall for the film "Il Divo" at the 61st Cannes Film Festival May 23, 2008. REUTERS/Vincent Kessler</p>