Thursday, September 25, 2008

Film and La Civiltà Cattolica

La Civiltà Cattolica (Italian for Catholic Civilization) is an Italian biweekly periodical printed by the Jesuits.

It has a prestigious history. The first issue came out on April 6, 1850

Its content is vetted by the Office of the Secretary of State in the Vatican. It has the attention and favour of the Popes.

It has a circulation of only about 18000 but worldwide. Its readership is clergy, religious, seminaries, universities, libraries and other Catholic institutions.

And film directors, and others involved in the film and TV industry and media studies.

Father Virgilio Fantuzzi S.J. provides commentary and criticism on film and TV for very many years.His articles are always original and well considered.

Paolo Benvenuti, an Italian film director, has said, "Many directors who would never read Civiltà Cattolica buy it just to read one of his reviews.''

In A Priest Who Prays 'With Cinema in My Head' (2nd November 2002), the New York Times did a feature on the celebrated Jesuit.

He was called on to advise Pasolini, Roberto Rossellini and Bernardo Bertolucci.

His reviews sometimes do not always find favour.

In 1974, he praised to the hilt Robert Bresson`s ''Lancelot of the Lake' (Lancelot du Lac). Bresson was a French film director known for his spiritual, ascetic style.

It was an unglamorous depiction of the Middle Ages, emphasising blood and grime (and adultery) over fantasy.

Civiltà Cattolica received a very critical letter from a Vatican official who had not seen the movie but had noticed an advertisement for it, which showed a naked woman's back.

Thankfully for Fr Fantuzzi the "official" had not seen the movie. (For an extract, follow the YouTube link

Father Fantuzzi never found out who the official was until many years later. "The Official" ? Pope Paul VI.