L'assassino (1961) dir. Elio Petri
Confusion. Bureaucracy. Shadows. These are some words that could describe L’assassino. A typical Kafkaesque situation. Funnily enough I didn’t realize it was like a Kafka novel before I watched it, so was watching thinking ‘this is a lot like The Trial…’. But I think it doesn’t go completely deep into Kafka, it’s still it’s own thing. After all, Elio Petri the director was a more political director and was exploring themes of Italy. He said he wanted to represent the young people of the time who had no ‘morals’. Alfredo is this. Lifetimes of freedom. Partners and girlfriends, fidelity.
The film moves away from just a Kafka novel and into who Alfredo is as a person, what he is. His actions. It becomes more personal. The police are almost judging his life, aside from his crime that he doesn't know about. It's an interesting way to view a person. They're here because they're accused of something, but then the police look at all their actions throughout their life, maybe to come to some conclusion about them. Maybe for no reason at all, other than being a sinister authority. In some ways, who are they to judge? No one has judged them as far as we know. Everyone has made mistakes in their life, and the past. That's being human.
The camera does dazzle, shots weave from the future into the past as if by magic, the camera gliding through doorways and windows, as if we were a voyeur or a watcher. Smooth. And it all builds up to the end. He wasn't guilty, apparently. It's all very sudden, we as the viewer aren't given much information or even the satisfaction of finding the criminal, as if it never really mattered and it was always about Alfredo. We see some change, perhaps, in his character; he appears to give money to a fellow whose maybe struggling a bit. And he comes back to his girlfriend, seemingly a changed man. But just one line, about admitting their romance, and he's back to his old ways. She leaves in an instant. And he laughs. Did he change?