What are the common themes and styles used by Director Paolo Sorrentino in Il Divo  and  This Must Be the Place?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I would say that one common theme is the complex reality that surrounds something perceived to be evil.  In Il Divo, Andreotti embodies the very essence of control and power.  Andreotti is shown as someone who stands by his actions. While he might be seen one particular manner, Andreotti shows little in way of guilt or regret.  The perception of him as politically evil is something that is enhanced with what Sorrentino reveals on film.  The label of evil takes on more intricate forms when he feels the need to justify to his wife, innocent of what he does, why he does what he does:  " [Other people] have no idea of the deeds that power must commit to ensure the well-being and development of the country.”  With this, Andreotti asserts that he takes “direct and indirect responsibility for the death and suffering that had to be perpetrated in the name of power.  Evil is not simple in Andreotti's case.  It is complex and has wide ranging implications.  

This same intricacy is evident in This Must Be the Place.  Throughout the narrative, Cheyenne's singular focus is to find and hunt down Lange.  The Nazi SS officer is seen as the embodiment of evil.  Tormentor of the father, subject of the Nazi hunter Mordecai, Lange is seen as a force of evil that can only be killed with guns that foster impunity in action.  Yet, when Cheyenne confronts Lange, he is shown to represent a complex dimension to evil.  He is frail, nearly blind.  He is also shown to be the subject of perpetual harassment from Cheyenne's father.  While he is a "Nazi," he is not the embodiment of evil.  He is reflective, understanding that Cheyenne's father's suffering is small in comparison to what happened in Auschwitz.  Evil acquires a different perspective when Cheyenne finds Lange. There is not an immediate feeling that evil has been conquered.  Rather, it is an understanding that one of the most difficult aspects of evil is to account for the conditions and contextual elements surrounding it.

In both works, another similar theme is a lack of resolution.  One does not feel a particular sense of thematic resolution in either work.  In Il Divo, there is  a sense of the complete in the conclusion is absent.  There is not a sense of resolution present.  The themes that drive the narrative are ones steeped in ambiguity.  This same emptiness is seen in Cheyenne's narrative.  The abandonment of Lange on the flats does not provide any immediate sense of fulfillment to Cheyenne or his father's legacy.  While Cheyenne has visibly changed at the end, there is little to indicate that harmony and unity has been achieved.  It is here in which both films demonstrate another similarity in thematic approach.

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