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also known as Il Cristo proibito | The Forbidden Christ

Strange Deception1951

  • 3.9
A top-prize winner at the Cannes and Berlin festivals, this striking drama (originally known as THE FORBIDDEN CHRIST) is largely forgotten today. But it survives, fortunately, as a unique bridge between Italy's postwar neorealist cinema and the more stylized, philosophical and personal cinema auteurs like Federico Fellini and Michelangelo Antonioni would soon bring to international audiences. Virile Raf Vallone plays Bruno, newly returned to his Tuscan birthplace after years spent in a Russian POW camp. What should be a happy homecoming is tempered by his grim determination to wreak vengeance on whoever betrayed his partisan brother to fascist assassins. It seems everyone (even Bruno's long-suffering mother) knows the identity of that traitor but none will tell him. The film is largely a series of vignettes in which he reunites with and questions fellow villagers, often engaging them in searching, somber conversations about religion, poverty, guilt and justice. When, at last, Bruno's quest is fulfilled, it is not remotely resolved in the way that he'd anticipated. This was the only feature written/directed (and, curiously, also scored) by Curzio Malaparte, a controversial, esteemed Italian author and intellectual whose work was at various times condemned by both Bonito Mussolini and the Vatican. With its noirish lighting and enigmatic narrative, STRANGE DECEPTION is a work of art suffused with the deepest post-WWII disillusionment and pessimism. - Dennis Harvey

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Member Reviews (4)

top reviewer

almost 5_i almost stopped watching in the beginning so heavy handed & corny_but it's a good story really well done the cast is excellent_yeah war is obscene evil & stupid and my country is still at it_really what is justice anyway_and yeah why do the poor suffer for the insanity of the rich & powerful...??? beautifully filmed so much pain in this film and you can feel it

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top reviewer

A very great and deeply expressive movie, operatic in feeling; bravi, tutti!

Although overly dramatic and sometimes resembling a propaganda film, there is a strong story and believable, for the most part, portrayals. The overarching theme is how the poor and defenseless suffer during war and afterward, in this case the people of an Italian village under the rule of the Nazis after Italy was no long considered a trustworthy ally by Hitler. Well worth seeing.

Wonderful movie, very touching.