Academic journal article Annali d'Italianistica

"Parigi O Cara": Terrorism, Exile, and Escape in Contemporary Italian Cinema and Theatre

Academic journal article Annali d'Italianistica

"Parigi O Cara": Terrorism, Exile, and Escape in Contemporary Italian Cinema and Theatre

Article excerpt

Giancarlo Lombardi, in "Parigi o cara: Terrorism, Exile, and Escape in Contemporary Cinema and Fiction," focuses on the portrayal of the community of Italian terrorists in exile in Paris as presented in a play, a documentary, and a full-length feature film. Locus of "abjection," land of apparent shelter and freedom, Paris is the maze in which former terrorists lose themselves while escaping justice. It is also the repository of unconfessed and unconfessable secrets. It is a place that former terrorists always contrast with the Italian cities and villages in which they were born; it is an abyss from whose depth they are granted blindness and vision: the same blindness and vision through which they form new perspectives on their past actions.

Massimo Carlotto, acclaimed author of several novels and a memoir, weaves within his own autobiography the many tales of several political refugees in Paris and Mexico City:

All'inizio della mia latitanza non sapevo cosa significasse esattamente vivere da espatriati. Mi guardavo intorno e non capivo. Il primo lavoro che ho trovato era una collaborazione a una ricerca storica sull'esilio politico in Francia. In particolare mi era stato affidato il compito di reperire dati custoditi nell'Archivio nazionale analizzando la documentazione del Ministero dell'Interno. Leggendo quelle schede informative, i fascicoli personali e i rapporti di polizia riguardanti un secolo di rifugio politico, alla fine ho capito cos'era e mi ha fatto paura: un carcere a cielo aperto.

(Carlotto 87)

Published in 1994, Il fuggiasco narrates the six years Carlotto spent hiding from justice. (1)While a fugitive in Paris, he comes in contact with a community of Italians seeking shelter from the law for crimes of a political nature. They call themselves militants of the armed struggle; in front of the Law, however, they are simply deemed terrorists. Theirs, and not Carlotto's, is the political exile described in the opening quotation of my essay: uncommon refugees, Italian terrorists in Paris are kept under close scrutiny by French and Italian police alike. Their freedom is only apparent: by fleeing to Paris, they have chosen captivity in a prison that has no roof over its head; they have chosen to live in un carcere a cielo aperto.

Shifting away from Carlotto's autobiography, which only hints at this particular group of Italian exiles, my essay focuses exclusively on the portrayal of this community of terrorists in exile as presented in a group of fictional works produced over the past decade. Locus of abjection, land of apparent shelter and freedom, Paris is the maze in which former terrorists lose themselves while escaping justice. It is also the repository of unconfessed and unconfessable secrets. It is a place that ex-terrorists always contrast with the Italian cities and villages in which they were born; it is an abyss from whose depth they are granted blindness and vision: the same blindness and vision through which they form new perspectives on their past actions.

In the pages that follow, I approach this issue gradually, moving from theory to practice, from the general to the particular. I begin by offering a theoretical framework informed by Jacques Derrida's peculiar reading of exile and hospitality, as evidenced in one of his most recent works: Of Hospitality (French ed.: 1997; Engl. trans. 2000). Afterwards, a brief discussion of two recent novels that host a fleeting portrayal of terrorists in exile leads the way to the analyses of a play, a documentary, and a feature film where this issue is at the very heart of the actual narration. Signs of a time when the Italian Parliament was discussing the possibility of closing the book on terrorism through the passing of an indulto, Alessandro Trigona Occhipinti's Segue comunicato (1999), Marco Turco's Vite sospese (1996) and Vite in sospeso (1998) constitute three different formal approaches to the same topic. …

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