The One about Marco Ferreri’s “Dillinger is Dead”

I make a film that will be seen and appreciated by the thousand of people I probably hate the most.  I want to make a film in truly bad taste!” – Marco Ferreri

Marco Ferreri, the Italian filmmaker who many looked at as a rebellious director that some looked at as innovative, non-compromising, intelligent but also  controversial, provocative and a man who could care less of what people thought about his film.

Never a shy man, Ferreri was to the point of how he felt.  Arthouse fans may have loved his films but he could care less about those people who watch art house films.  In fact, he hated those types of audiences.  He was not a big fan of the popularity of the Cinemateque Francais of the ’60s (which he called the films “incoherent”) and nearly interview that revolved around his work, you can easily tell Ferreri was agitated, especially when it seemed the interviewer wanted to praise his style of filmmaking or a film.

And if there was one film that people loved, it was Ferreri’s 1968 Italian art house film “Dillinger e morto” (aka “Dillinger is Dead”).  Looked at as one of Ferreri’s true masterpiece and a film that was well-received, this irked Ferreri.   In fact, because of the positive attention he received from the film, Ferreri could not wait to get back to the films that he was known for…films that were provocative and, in his own words, “bad taste”.

“Dillinger is Dead” is a dark film that borders between fantasy and reality.  A film that has hardly any dialogue, but its the actions of this man of the bourgeois lifestyle coming home from work and like a voyeur, we take a peak of how he is inside the home.  Is what we are watching completely real or is this a film about dreams manufactured from a man with desires?

 

Marco Ferreri is known for his provocative films.  Known for co-writing the film “Mafioso” in 1962 and directing controversial films such as the 1973 “La Grande Bouffe” (a film where four friends eat themselves to death) and La Dernière femme (a film about love and self-mutilation), Ferreri is a director who has built his career on counter-culture films.  He could care less if people watch and despise his films, it’s what he does.

But in 1968, he created “Dillinger e Morto” (Dillinger is Dead).  A film that was enjoyed by many and even with its controversial ending, the fact that people enjoyed the film so much made Ferreri want to go further by creating films that were way more provocative than any of his previous films.

“Dillinger is Dead” is a film that can seem quite boring if one was to describe it to others.   A man who lives a bourgeois lifestyle, coming home from work and has a beautiful wife who had cooked for him and goes to bed early because she has a headache.  The man cooks dinner, finds a gun in his closet while looking for ingredients, has a sexy maid that he accidentally spies on while she’s adoring her body in the mirror and he eats what he cooks, watches TV, watches home videos and by descriptions of the actions does not give the movie any justice.

Michel Piccoli, the actor who plays the main character Glauco, just shines as a man who seems isolated and obviously a man who doesn’t sleep so much.  It’s the voyeuristic filmmaking that makes “Dillinger is Dead” so appealing.  Afterall, in today’s day and age, people are entranced by reality TV shows to online streaming videos of watching people do nothing.  May they read a book, sleeping, cooking and this voyeurism is what catches the attention of the viewer.

We see this man as a regular working man but once he discovers this gun, you think to yourself, “why is he so fixated on taking it apart, painting it, carrying it”.  We don’t know what happened yesterday, the week before or let alone what is on the mindset of Glauco but it’s that look into his life until he does the unthinkable.  This is Ferreri’s middle finger to the viewer who has watched and has been enjoying the movie up to that scene.  And one must ask themselves, it’s a Marco Ferreri film, how can you not see something like this coming?

But we don’t.  It’s because for the most part of the film, we watch this man enjoying food and his life.  The ending is like entering a dream state.  Are watching reality?  Or somehow are we watching a man who shifts from reality to a dreamstate and that is what we are seeing?  A man who wants to escape from his life of monotony of work and life and wants to have fun?

I suppose “Dillinger is Dead” is one of those films that one can watch and come up with a different interpretation.  But for a film that is pretty much a silent film in terms of lack of dialogue, Ferreri manages to create a film so unique and so different that it is a true masterpiece.  He is a man who creates films the way he wants to without any compromises.

“Dillinger is Dead” is a fantastic film that I highly recommend!


 

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Dennis A. Amith