The best is yet to come

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By GUILHERME COLOMBARA ROSSATTO*

Comments on the film, showing in cinemas, by Nanni Moretti

“In short, everywhere and at all times, it is the economic conditions and the economic means of power that lead power to victory, without which it ceases to be power…” (Friedrich Engels, Anti-Duhring).

1.

For more than 30 years, filmmaker Nanni Moretti has been debating in his films the decadence of the Italian Communist Party (PCI) and the leftist project as a whole, from the mental confusions of Palombella Rossa (1989) to the anxiety about change in the good winds of April (1998). The political scenario invades the lives of its protagonists and alter egos, causing much heartbreak. The vision is never positive, no matter how good the chances of change are, there is always something to fear.

As in the phrase in the epigraph, power is lurking, seducing the hearts of men and putting an end to honest political projects. It is influenced by the economic field, plunging people into constant uncertainty. In Nanni Moretti's view, despite being very humorous, Italy finds itself in a Dantesque hell. He cannot trust in victory, he cannot trust politicians, parties or himself, like the amnesia of his protagonist in Palombella Rossa prove it.

This work follows a member of the PCI who lost his memory in a car accident, condemned to swim in a polo game that makes as much sense as the country's political situation. For Nanni Moretti, the vacuum caused by the decline of so-called real socialism becomes amnesia, it is the eclipse of socialist hope.[I] The moment when the character leaves the pool and watches the climax of Doctor Zhivago (1965) with other people on television, is one of the only collective moments in the film, transmitting an almost magical positivity to the viewer.

We cheer with them and get involved in the invented plot, without time to think about the social ills of reality. It's as if cinema were the only answer; theme that returns in the film analyzed here. In this collectivity, the human essence finds its nature “[…] because it is first here that it exists for him in the condition of a link with man, in the condition of his existence for the other and the other for him…”.[ii]

Such collective spasms are rare, so the scenario is the worst possible, with no chance for good left-wing politicians and activists, so committed to social justice. Still, with emphasis on the 2023 work, humor is predominant, satirizing a situation seen as horrible and endless. An acidic and true humor, which starts from Nanni's discomfort to achieve collective laughter, a remedy for its spectators, who, like the characters at the poolside, must laugh and cry together.

2.

Em The best is yet to come This good humor is played against the negativity of its protagonist, who insists on making a film about a decisive (and sad) moment for Soviet communism and its satellite parties around the world: the invasion of Hungary by Russian troops. Between filming, his marriage is being shaken, Italy seems to care more about generic action films and quantitative data from multimillion-dollar platforms like Netflix, his daughter doesn't listen to him and young people are unaware of the impact of the PCI on post-war Italy.

The past, on the other hand, is a time of anti-Stalinism (after three years of the leader's death) and proclamation of freedom, until the communists themselves act as repressors and impose tyranny. Through archive footage, we follow the toppling of a statue of Stalin himself, and then Soviet tanks and soldiers tear down entire cities in retaliation.

Firstly, the character of Nanni (Giovanni in the film, as if the connections between the two weren't enough) insists on filming historical realism. There is no room for imagination. He is too concerned with the objects in the scene and the tone of the time. The two protagonists of your film (a couple) should not start a romantic relationship, after all, they are dealing with serious political issues. It is necessary to film 1956 in its smallest details, however, there is a limit. The fictional director then begins to modify important elements, such as a newspaper headline from the time. He strives for realism, but he seems to be unable to control himself.

At one point he states that he will not film the story as it happened, but the story within his film. The room for maneuver grows, but it is not yet time for total change (it will only come at the end). In the meantime, he tears up a poster with Stalin's face and tells the scriptwriters and actors that this figure has no place in the film, leaving Lenin's. The present rectifies the struggle of the past, reflecting on a moment of extreme melancholy for the left. Melancholy, which has always accompanied this political current, as part of its messianic hopes.[iii]

However, in the end, the filmmakers (fictional and real) do not fall into a melancholy or a labyrinth of self-lament. In the search for a certain left-wing purism, they can strip away the tools and rigors of a historian, giving way to a mixture of imagination and revisionism. They modify past facts, imagining a scenario where the PCI did not support the invasion and authoritarian measures of the Soviet Communist Party. The past is used by Nanni Moretti as a means of fighting against a suffocated present. The fight is imaginary, the march and the final dances are imaginary, but their impact can still be felt outside the cinema screen.

The film within the film ends up imagining a kind of parallel scenario to 1956, full of positivity and easy solutions. Reviewing the past becomes a relief; a means of repairing the social and private relationships of the present (his wife accompanies him on the final march, as if the marriage were saved). Through the lens of Nanni Moretti, the PCI gains greater political autonomy, guaranteeing a stable future for Italy and an example for left-wing parties around the world.

In terms of imagination, his vision is linked to those who place history and the interpretation of the past as dependent on the present: “[…] the possibility that the historian will be able to strip away the present to reach someone's past in the past seems remote. terms of that someone.”[iv] Nanni is not concerned with methodological rigor: he wants to reach the Italian past to review and fix some factors.

Its objectives are close to memory, so different from history, that it can only receive some of its points of view and guidelines, always in a critical way.[v] Here, Nanni Moretti's plot invades the story proper and his imaginative efforts are close to those who see historiographical interpretation as belonging to a plot structure. The narrated story, therefore, receives attributes of development and articulations of a drama/novel.[vi]

Giovanni reaches into the past to change his present, freeing himself from the sadness that his film was giving him. He is free to imagine another development in history, expressed by the words that accompany a completely red screen: “The Italian Communist Party refused Soviet tyranny, condemned the invasion of Hungary and allowed the creation of a socialist utopia in Italy, along the lines they wanted. Marx and Engels”.

In these final words, utopia is not characterized. It is up to each of us to imagine the best possible future, in accordance with our values ​​and expectations. A white screen to the left. My Marx may have different molds from his, dear reader, but that doesn't matter, after all, tyranny has been deposed and we can only dream of a more just and dignified future.

At the same time, Nanni Moretti comments on the current political situation off-screen, chaotic by nature and lacking any chance of change. However, he doesn't waste time with these commonplaces, condemning the left to lost elections, coups d'état and other bad omens of our times. No, the director points out that the best is yet to come; even if it is through utopia. Imagination fills its characters and situations, leaving a positive feeling in the viewer's mind, who can forget, at least for a few minutes, all these negative aspects mentioned and experienced in the present.

History thus becomes a means of assistance, a remedy for dark times. It is not finished, nor oppressed by bad decisions. She is a ray of hope that fixes the protagonist's life and gets everyone to march in tune, dreaming of a better future that may never come, but that will definitely be better than the possibilities that we have in front of us.

*Guilherme Colombara Rossatto is a history major at the University of São Paulo (USP).

Reference


The best is yet to come (Il sol dell'avvenire)
France, Italy, 2023, 95 minutes.
Director: Nanni Moretti.
Cast: Nanni Moretti, Marguerita Buy, Mathieu Amalric, Silvio Orlando, Barbara Bobulova, Valentina Romani, Flavio Furno, Zsolt Anger.

Notes


[i] TRAVERSO, Enzo. Left-wing melancholia: Marxism, history and memory. New York: Columbia University Press, 2016, p. 86.

[ii] MARX, Karl. Economic-philosophical manuscripts. São Paulo: Boitempo, 2010, p. 106.

[iii] TRAVERSO, op. Cit., p. 38.

[iv] JENKINS, Keith. History Rethought. São Paulo: Contexto, 2001, p. 70.

[v] NAPOLITANO, Marcos. Denialism and historical revisionism in the 21st century. In: PINSKY, Jaime; PINSKY, Carla Bassanezi (org.). New fights for History – challenges, teaching. São Paulo: Contexto, 2021, p. 94.

[vi] WHITE, Hayden. Tropics of discourse: essays on the critique of culture. São Paulo: Editora da Universidade de São Paulo, 1994, p. 80.


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