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Review of Cain: written and directed by Marco Filiberti

Marco Filiberti
Marco Filiberti

It was in the suitably elegant white and gilt surroundings of the Italian Embassy on Belgrave Square, film director and screen writer, Marco Filiberti’s visually stunning Cain was screened.

In conversation with Marco Delogu, Director of the Italian Cultural Institute, Mr Filiberti set the scene for his film, describing his affinities with the ancient world and a deep interest in the metaphysical, providing a focus for him beyond the limits of our physical experience of the world. He also told of his artistic influences, which include the great theatre director Peter Brook and the English romantic poets.

The film, not suprisingly therefore, has a narrative which uses the modern world as a portal through which old stories are found, opening up universal themes to be explored.

A group of threatre actors are assembled to be allocated parts and to rehearse at their director’s home in beautiful, tranquil Tuscany. One of the male actors, ( Abel), is gifted with graces and abilities as his rival in love, not to mention the lead in the play, (Cain), must recognise, despite all his arrogance, he is not.

The biblical rivalry to death and disaster of Cain and Abel, two sons of Adam and Eve, is referenced from the start, using mystical scenes of enormous visual power, to explore envy, lust and wrath. There are quotes from the bible, also from Milton’s, Paradise Lost, about the fall of a favoured angel, Lucifer, who turns into the devil.

The love rivalry between the actors never seems much more than phantasmagoric, symbolic. Because the connection at the heart of the film is between the two men and evil’s compulsion to destroy what is good and beautiful because its existence, reveals by comparison, the inadequacy of the other.

Intriguing themes from the past therefore, relevant to our contemporary, troubled world, certainly.

After Cain murders Abel, his desires change as he longs to lose the knowledge of what he has done. Troubled memory is explored by reference to Manfred, the central figure of a poem of sometimes exquisite beauty, by Byron. After the deed comes the regret. Cain becomes Manfred.

The poetic and literary text used in this film is fascinating and may send you away, determined to know more. Reading these words in English subtitles is a pleasure, not a hardship.

There is one moment in the film when the theatre director tells Cain, who is acting for him, to move less in the physical world and more in the interior. That is advice which Mr Filiberti’s actors do not always follow in the film. It is difficult to explore the extremes of human behaviour by reference to gothic and epic poetry without falling into melodrama at times. There were unfortunate problems with the broadcasting of what should have been a soundtrack matching the quality of the imagery, at the screening which probably contributed to a lack of emotional engagement with what was on screen at times. But Cain has visuals of enormous resonance with a literary and questing intent which will, for certain, leave you the richer for having spent your time to watch it.

Review by Marian Kennedy

An exclusive presentation of award-winning Italian theatre and film director Marco Filiberti’s latest work plus Q and A on Friday 18 November 2016 at at The Italian Cultural Institute, 39 Belgrave Square, London SW1X 8NX

Cain, written and directed by Filiberti, was inspired by two Byron texts: Cain, a dramatic work based on the story of Cain and Abel from Cain’s point of view, and the gothic Manfred – A Dramatic Poem. Filiberti’s Cain revolves around a group of young artists gathered in an old Tuscan farm, in which a famous theatre director organises theatre productions at the farm.


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