Interview with Paolo Martini, director of The Relic
Pasquale Capuano is representation of negative conformism, a mean but convenient sense of belonging to a community, an evil homogenization. Villagers from Roccalunga marginalize and blackmail other people for their own petty advantage. It’s a wicked mechanism. Connecting “the human evil behaviors” to occultism is not a new idea. “The Relic” has a different approach though: it connects the typical Italian social sleaze (clientelism, political corruption, duplicity) to paranormal and religious suggestions deeply-rooted in our culture as proved by the anthropological researches of Ernesto De Martino and Luigi Di Gianni. I decided to transport those themes into a typical mise-en-scene of the italian political restauration of the ’50 (but with an esoteric shade) in order to present them as something sarcastically distant in time, but still rooted in something timeless and inescapable (a supernatural entity perhaps?). The “bad guys” are just ridiculous masks created to bring out the mocking cynicism of the story, inserted in a world between Visconti’s Obsession and The Maltese Falcon: some of them are submissive, others are braggart and impudent. All of them are symbols: the Major, the Doctor, the old committee’s president, the camorra mobsters. I pictured a village where everyone is born under the protection of an evil but advantageous spirit. Every social action is managed by a political, religious and cultural power colluded with ancient occult traditions of the place. Men and women – hidden in Roccalunga homes, among a tombola and some other kind of celebrations – accept political blackmails in the name of Pasquale Capuano just to have a simple job, a relaxed life and a sort of peacefulness. No one can escape this "tradition”: a condemnation, or even worse a revolution, would be too dangerous for the village cohesion. Isn’t that the same condition we search for ourselves after all? Don’t we hope for a spirit that might help us to have a relaxed life and freedom from other people’s judgement? Aren’t we willing to exchange all of that for some liberty?
When Mimmo discovers that Anna has succumbed to the traditions of Roccalunga by “enchanting” their unborn child with the spirit of Pasquale Capuano, he decides to reach a peasant sorcerer who can do the labour ritual to free them from the curse. But the political officers, in order to maintain the social stability of the village and the ancient traditions, have to ensure that every child is born under the influence and the authority of Pasquale.