Giuliano Montaldo, director of civil commitment, has died. His “Sacco e Vanzetti” is memorable


By John

Goodbye to Giuliano Montaldo, who died today in Rome at the age of 93. It was the last director of the so-called civil commitment cinema of which he was one of the great protagonists in the 60s and 70s together with Francesco Rosi, Carlo Lizzani, Elio Petri, Florestano Vancini. If it was Francesco Rosi who inaugurated the trend with “Salvatore Giuliano”, Giuliano Montaldo was a great exponent of it above all thanks to a film, “Sacco and Vanzetti”which was enormously successful to the point of contributing significantly to the historical and moral rehabilitation of the two Italian anarchists unjustly convicted of an attack they had not committed and executed in the United States in the 1920s.

Born in Genoa on 22 February 1930, Montaldo at a very young age he took part in the partisan resistance to free Italy from Nazi-fascism, joining the Gap of Genoa. He never forgot those battles for freedom and he was a lifelong member of the Anpi-National Association of Partisans of Italy.

He began his cinematographic experience as an actor, acting with the director and his great friend Carlo Lizzani in “Achtung! Banditi!” in 1952, in ‘At the margins of the metropolì in 1953 and “Chronicles of poor lovers” in ’54. The transition behind the camera in 1961 with “Pigeon Shooting” which was followed in 1965 with “Una bella gritta”.

In the 70s he produced his best films, starting with the “trilogy on power”: “Gott mit uns” of 1970, “Sacco e Vanzetti” of ’71 and “Giordano Bruno” of ’73, respectively on the military, judicial and religious. Three years later he returned to the theme of the Resistance with “L’Agnese goes to die”, before moving on to television experiences with “Closed Circuit” in 1978 and, above all, the blockbuster “Marco Polo”, a TV miniseries in 8 episodes for the Rai of 1982.

In the 1980s he directed three films: “The Golden Glasses” and “The Day Before” released in 1987 and “Tempo di Killerè” in 1989. His last two films were in the 2000s: “The Demons of St. Petersburg” (2008) and ‘L’industrialè (2011).

Politically involved on the left – among his works also the participation in the collective documentary ‘L’addio a Enrico Berlinguer’ in 1984 – Montaldo never forgot his passion for acting. A passion that he rediscovered late in life when the director Francesco Bruni entrusted him with a moving and intense role in “Everything you want” in 1918.

On that occasion he said: «I started my life in cinema as an actor, playing small roles in various films. But now thanks to my great friend Francesco Bruni for the first time I had an important part.” A truly high-level interpretation that also earned him the second David di Donatello, after his 2007 Lifetime Achievement Award, as best supporting actor for his performance in ‘Everything You Want.