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Italian film “Bella Addormentata” relives euthanasia case that split Italy

Thedailyherald.com (September 5, 2012) reports that the final days of Eluana Englaro have been turned into a – partly documentary, partly fictional –  film “Bella Addormentata”, a film of director Marco Bellocchio, starring Toni Servillo and Isabelle Huppert. The film is presented at the famous Venice Film Festival and will be screened in the cinema’s from September 6, 2012. The 2009 right-to-die case of Eluana Englaro, a 38-year old woman who had been in a coma since a car crash 17 years earlier and became a household name in Italy when her father decided to suspend artificial nutrition, that deeply split public opinion in Catholic Italy is at the centre of the new film, exploring the themes of euthanasia, suicide and religious faith. Mixing real TV footage and fictional characters, director Marco Bellocchio recreates the heated debate that surrounded Englaro’s death.

Outside the clinic where she was hospitalised, pro-life activists clashed with euthanasia supporters; inside parliament, lawmakers traded insults as then Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi tried to ram through a bill that would have forced doctors to resume feeding her through a tube. Englaro died as senators discussed the bill in a late-night session.

Against that backdrop, the film’s four main characters offer their diverse and conflicting points of view on end-of-life and free will issues and the moral dilemmas they raise. While the film is clearly more sympathetic towards secular opinions, Bellocchio said he had deliberately avoided taking a firm stance by giving voice to a variety of perspectives. “My ideas are certainly different from those of some of the characters in the film, but I can find something to relate to in all of them,” he told reporters after a press screening in Venice. “I have no faith but I respect those who do, and look at them with curiosity and interest.”

“Ultimately the question asked by the film is that we want to be free to choose but then what do we do with that freedom once we have it,” said Huppert. “No one can answer that and we did not have an answer when shooting it.”

 

 

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