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Dormant Beauty

Bella addormentata

Sophisticated, stylish and serious drama from Marco Bellocchio, which links three stories against the background of Italy’s most famous euthanasia case.

Even if a screening is sold out, tickets are often available 30 minutes before the start of the film at the box office at each venue.

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  • Director Marco Bellocchio
  • Producer Riccardo Tozzi, Fabio Conversi, Marco Chimenz, Giovanni Stabilini
  • Screenwriter Marco Bellocchio, Veronica Raimo, Stefano Rulli
  • With Toni Servillo, Isabelle Huppert, Alba Rohrwacher
  • Italy-France 2012
  • 110 mins
  • Sales Celluloid Dreams

Three stories, taking place over the course of a few days, involving a conscience-stricken politician, an obsessive mother and two young protestors on different sides, are skilfully interwoven in this gripping, beautifully realised film. Set against the background of the emotive and controversial real-life 2008 euthanasia case of Eluana Englaro, Dormant Beauty is a subtle and complex depiction of recent Italian history. Masterly and intelligent filmmaking of the highest order from Marco Bellocchio (Vincere), with a top-line cast relishing their meaty roles, this was selected for Official Competition at the Venice Film Festival.
Adrian Wootton

Director statement

My inspiration for this film was the intense emotion surrounding the very long and very public death of Eluana Englaro. I was shocked in particular by the reactionary outcry from the Italian people, the media, the political class, and the Church, all in such sharp contrast to my own sense of solidarity with and admiration for the woman’s father. I realised, however, that by holding fast to only one side of the controversy, I would be at risk of pinching off my imagination. I knew I would have to broaden my horizons, to let time expand my perspective… I would have to wait… And so I waited two years, before resuming work on the idea, thereby deepening the process and giving rise to other stories completely unrelated to Eluana. These new plotlines stand on their own, drawing on eras long before the Eluana episode, drawing on my entire life: my childhood, my adolescence, my family, my Catholic upbringing, my political compromises, my moral principles, the importance of intellectual consistency, and finally the refusal to give up when faced with a situation both life-threatening and yet full of potential for recovery – even for rebirth, as with Rossa and Pallido. Such has been my path, which subsequently determined style, imagery, and dramatic structure – or perhaps which allowed those elements to evolve as if on their own. During filming, the work was in large part improvisational, although we generally adhered to the dialogues, which were cut down in editing. Without Eluana’s death, there would have been no Dormant Beauty to awaken. Although this film assumes no prejudgments, no foregone conclusions, it is certainly not a neutral work – I do not believe that neutrality exists in art. The film is sincere and non-ideological; it is not some kind of manifesto and I remain open to other points of view. I am hopeful that the film’s themes will generate spirited discussion and that my work will not meet with an indifferent reception.
Marco Bellocchio

Director biography

Born in 1939 in Piacenza, he abandoned his studies in philosophy to take up a course at the Centro Sperimentale di Cinema. He made three shorts in the early 60s, then furthered his education at the Slade School in London. His first feature, Fists in the Pocket, retains its potency as an acknowledged classic of world cinema, and the LFF has often since highlighted his ongoing mastery of the medium, now reflected in over 30 features; most of them international prize-winners.


1961 La colpa e la pena [s]
1962 Ginepro fatto uomo
1965 I pugni in tasca (Fists in the Pocket)
1967 La Cina è vicina (China is Near)
1969 Paola [doc]; Viva il primo maggio rosso e proletario [doc s]; Amore e rabbia (Love and Anger) [ep Discutiamo, discutiamo only]
1971 Nel nome del padre (In the Name of the Father)
1972 Sbatti il mostro in prima pagina (Slap the Monster on the Front Page)
1975 Matti da slegare (Fit to be Untied) [doc; co-d]
1976 Marcia trionfale (Victory March)
1977 Il gabbiano (The Seagull)
1980 Vacanze in Val Tribbia (Vacation in Val Tribbia); Salto nel vuoto (A Leap in the Dark)
1982 Gli occhi, la bocca (The Eyes, the Mouth)
1984 Enrico IV (Henry IV)
1986 Diavolo in corpo (Devil in the Flesh)
1988 La visione del Sabba (The Sabbath)
1991 La condanna (The Conviction)
1992 L’uomo dal fiore in bocca [TV s]
1994 Il sogno della farfalla (The Butterfly's Dream)
1995 Sogni infranti (Broken Dreams) [TV doc]
1997 Elena [s]; Il principe di Homburg (The Prince of Homburg)
1999 La balia (The Nanny)
2000 L’affresco [s]
2002 La primavera del
2002: l'Italia protesta, l'Italia si ferma [co-d]; L’ora di religione (My Mother’s Smile); Addio del passato [doc]; Appunti per un film su Zio Vania [s]
2003 Buongiorno, notte (Good Morning, Night)
2006 Il regista di matrimoni (The Wedding Director); Sorelle (Sisters)
2009 Vincere
2010 Sorelle Mai
2012 Bella addormentata (Dormant Beauty)

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