Vita Gazette

News from Italy

Film rewiev: The Hand of God

by Ayfer Selamoğlu

There are very important periods in life that hurt us all: like the death of someone we love very much; while they take something very precious from us; Or as if our ideals were blocked… In such times, each of us, without exception, begins to swim in the sea of pain. But as time goes by, we realize that those pains teach new things and open different doors. And we are grateful! Is it the hand of God?

Famous Argentine footballer Diego Maradona scored a goal against England for Argentina in the 1986 World Cup match and shouted to those who protested, “That hand was the hand of God.” politics, expressed the sentiments of the Argentine people, enraged by England, who conquered the islands in the Falklands War 4 years ago. At this point, we once again realize that life is full of interesting coincidences. Maradona’s revenge goal against England will reach a young Napoli teenager and change the life of Fabietto, 16, a Maradona fan, in one day…

Written and directed by Paolo Sorrentino, “The Hand of God” won 5 awards, along with the best film and best director, by David Di Donatello, which is considered the Oscar of Italy. Born and raised in Naples, Sorrentino returns to the lands where he experienced a shocking tragedy with The Hand of God and embarks on a sad journey with his past. Back in Naples, the director brings together in his memory the memories of the past with their happiness, loss, tragedy and lessons. And in this autobiographical film, he tells life lessons, growing pains and the story of having made his way. It does so through the fiction of a world in which the destinies of Maradona and Fabietto intersect, where miracles and tragedy mix.

Sorrento creates Fabietto, 16, as the hero of his journey. Fabietto, who received a classical education, is a harmonious, calm lover and does not have many friends, he is a young man suffering from the pain of puberty. He has no friends and girlfriends, but he has a warm home with an honest and fun Communist father, a cheerful and playful lively mother, and a caring older brother. Fabietto spends pleasant adolescence in the comfortable arms of his family. He spends most of his time with his family, in crowded and fun family gatherings. Fascinated by the charm of his muse, Aunt Patrizia, Fabietto dives into wide-ranging conversations at the table with other family members, and takes part in boat trips and swims. They laugh, have fun, joke, and argue. This naturalness is accompanied by the sun, the sea and the seagulls. It can be said that he likes the music from the headphones that he never takes off, and the cinema from the videotape that he rents. The name of last movie he rented, which he and his father didn’t have the opportunity to watch, is Once Upon a Time in America. Sorrento provides the public with the codes of the film with this scene he initially edited. As a result, Fabio has a happy and fun life until the tragedy.

The film begins with the blue sea symbolizing life, eternity and peace, and the speedboat advancing to the sound of “choo choo” symbolizing passion. Then Sorrento focuses the camera on Fabietto’s happy moments with his small family and a large number of relatives. The film begins to progress with the news that Argentine footballer Diego Maradona will be transferred to the Napoli football team. This is the beginning of events that will affect the lives of both. Later, parts of Fabietto’s life are reflected on the screen, arranged like an album of images.

The most important of these images is the scene where his mother and father go to the mountain house. Finally, they have the chalet of their dreams and a burning fireplace. We see that they are very happy. After a while, they start sleeping in their seats. When we think of fatigue, we learn that this sleep is caused by carbon dioxide. That is a point, where the foundations of his existence have collapsed, vanished into thin air, and in their place, a dull, absolute, unmanageable pain has appeared. Fabietto, who was on his way to Maradona’s match in Naples, could not join them. If he went, he would die like his family. The Maradona match ticket, which his father gave him on his birthday, was his salvation. This is portrayed as the Hand of God in the film. At the funeral, in fact, an elderly relative asks Fabietto: “You like skiing. Why weren’t you there?” After Fabio said: ”I would have gone too if it hadn’t been for the game”, the old relative muttered in amazement. “This is the hand of God. He saved you”. Sorrentino libra his film with a sacred connotation in the words of his father when he handed over the ticket to the game: “Thanks to me, not to God”. This balance essentially reflects the character of Napoli. because in a city where sacred and profane are the same thing, symbols are everything.

Fabietto will have to change and grow after the terrible event that happened to him. But he will find his way to live with the lessons he has learned.

He first takes a lesson from Maradona. As he admires the football star, who is separated from the team and constantly takes free kicks in training, he and his brother learn a lesson about life. His brother whispers to Fabietto what this lesson is. “I could not. You have to be as determined as he is.”

He takes another lesson from Federico Fellini, during the audition with his older brother Marchino, who is trying to become an actor. Fellini believes that cinema means deviation from reality, but the reality is a terrible thing. These words will guide him through his most difficult days and he will reach the island of happiness. His admiration for Fellini is evident throughout the film, with scenes inspired by his films.

and dissident muse. His aunt, a childless and therefore mentally ill woman, once told Fabio she was pregnant after seeing a small monk. Sorrentino balances this sacred-religious reference with the subsequent development. After Patrizia became pregnant, she also aborted her child for the violence suffered by her husband…

Later in the film, Fabietto befriends Armando, an old cigarette smuggler. From this seemingly surprising friendship, he learns that people are not what they seem and learns about passion. Armando is a man who does his job well, even for illegal purposes and is passionate about driving a motorboat. It should be noted that the opening scene of the film begins with the sounds of  “tuff … tuff …”.

Neapolitan director Antonio Capuano plays as important a role as Fellini in shaping his passion for cinema. At the end of the film, he confronts Capuano and says: “I don’t have anyone. I’m alone. I want to be a director,” he says. At that point, he learns the lesson of his life from Capuano, who is a gruff but honest and kind-hearted person. “Everyone in life is alone. Nobody left you alone. Never lose control. If you are going to make a movie, you must have a story to tell. But are you brave? Then tell your story”. Capuano is also the teacher of Sorrento in real life.

Fabietto recovers from puberty with his neighbour upstairs, the elderly baroness. The Baroness, who has not let anyone into her apartment after her husband’s death, calls Fabietto for the first time to remove a bat that has entered the house. Let’s imagine that they will be inside the sex accessory that Sorrentino has placed on the door. Fabio regains his sexual freedom with his wound. Not only that, but Fabietto also took another lesson from the Baroness: “You won’t see me from now on, you will look to the future”. Taking this into account, Fabio chooses the candidate to be happy by escaping from reality and pain, just as Fellini said, cinema.

In the film’s finale, we see Fabietto leaving Naples on a train to Rome. In Sorrentino’s words, he leaves the city he lives in to escape the pain. His name is now Fabio. When he arrives in Rome, he sees the little monk mentioned by his aunt in one of the stations where the train stops. The nice monk takes off his hat and greets Fabio from behind. Is this the hand of God?

But we know this: A laugh that rips through the screen, so much so that it’s contagious. A laugh that in a few moments makes you understand what life is: a bite, they would say in Naples, because it is quick, clear, and then it ends. And therefore, you might as well laugh at how unfair the world is, laugh at your pain, laugh, because when you run out of tears, you just have to laugh to take back yourself and give yourself back to life. Laughing at the cost of sounding blasphemous, laughing, because the measure of sacredness is necessarily profanity … Sorrento manages to make us laugh in that tragedy …

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