Michele Placido presents his latest film at the cinema on 3th November: Caravaggio’s Shadow. The film is full of lights and shadows that, through the trick of the investigation, trace the salient episodes of the life of Michelangelo Merisi. The Caravaggio by Michele Placido appears as the most authentic expression of that "true" that has always haunted the artist, through the Gospels that he knows by heart and whose reading is moved.
An authentic Caravaggio
Italy 1600, Michelangelo Merisi (Riccardo Scamarcio), known as Caravaggio, is a subversive artist in appearance, ready to draw his sword from the side to unleash the fight, frequenter of taverns and street women, from the unkempt hair a little anarchic and the continuous search for female and male faces that represent the truth and humility of their lives. His style is not at all follow the dogmas - on the representation of the Sacred - placed by the Council of Trent. Pope Paul V (Maurizio Donadoni) discovers that the artist, as models for his "sacred" representations, uses thieves, prostitutes, and vagabonds. He then decides to commission a secret agent - called “l’Ombra” (Louis Garrel) - to investigate the truth of Caravaggio. The unfortunate man will find refuge with the marquise Costanza Colonna (Isabelle Huppert) waiting for the papal grace that will allow him to escape the beheading as an exemplary punishment for killing his friend - rival Ranuccio.
They asked me to repent, but I don’t know what to repent and I don’t want to repent.
Michele Placido to the question if he feels closer to the figure of Cardinal Del Monte (interpreted by himself) or to that of Caravaggio, answers:
"The figure of Caravaggio is the one that has most stimulated me over the years and a real journey has taken place. Surely I feel closer at a personal level because this passion has a very active seed. I was a young student of the National Academy of Dramatic Art here in Rome, I came from a village where there was nothing and for a bit of luck, I was admitted to the Academy. Those years, however, were decisive for italian history, were the 70s, the years of the cultural revolution in which I was twenty years old. We young people wanted to participate in this cultural change and the protests of this historical change. I often went to Campo de' Fiori - this is where my journey with Caravaggio began - there was the statue of Giordano Bruno that also appears in the film. Looking at that statue, and drinking a glass of wine, we talked about art, culture, and poetry. I have always been fascinated by the figure of this great philosopher and monk who said in his last words: «I have been asked to repent, but I do not know what to regret and I do not want to repent; a phrase that will be attributed to Caravaggio at the end of the film.”
An exceptional protagonist
At one point, Caravaggio understood that he had become the best painter of that moment in the city of Rome. And he has a sort of arrogance, in which he understands that this road he has found - a very difficult road - is the right one, in search of truth in the alleys of the night, in the darkness, and in the people who are with the characters of his paintings. We could combine the figure of Caravaggio and that of Pier Paolo Pasolini. Pasolini, like Caravaggio, arrives in Rome and goes to live in the village, where he will find his language, and his poetry, thanks to the last. Both will die by the sea," reflects Placido.
About the choice of the actor, Riccardo Scamarcio, as the protagonist, the master explains that at the beginning he was designated for the role of the "black" because of his build. In the end, there was a change, that is to choose him as Caravaggio. "I was convinced that we would have an excellent creative and artistic relationship. He had no doubts, he immediately said that it was the role made for him. We worked a lot together.