Country: Italy
Year: 1972
Duration: 102'

A widow originally from Sicily migrated with her son to a working class district in Milan. To make ends meet, she reads tarot cards, prepares remedies against the evil eye, and performs séances for her customers. Her son, who aspires to learn her secrets, actually has supernatural powers and uses them to rape a young client of his mother who was about to get married. The young woman gets pregnant, with terrible consequences on the family’s microcosm: their precarious equilibrium depended on the conflicting relationship between mother and son.


film director

Giulio Questi

Giulio Questi (Bergamo, 1924), after his experience as a partisan, began to write short stories for various literary journals (including Vittorini’s “Il Politecnico); in the mid-1950s, he began working in cinema, as a documentary filmmaker (Giocare, 1957), an assistant director for Zurlini and Rosi, and an actor for Fellini in La dolce vita (1960). In 1961, he shot his first fiction film, Viaggio di nozze, an episode of Latin Lovers, and the next year he collaborated on the “mondo film” (a movie made with archival material that is deliberately shocking and offensive) Universo di notte. In 1963, he directed an episode of another collective move, Nudi per vivere, which he made with Elio Petri and Giuliano Montaldo under the pseudonym Elio Montesti; the movie was seized by the censors and was never distributed. In 1964, he directed Il passo, an episode for the film Amori pericolosi, and finally, in 1967, his first feature film: the western Django, Kill (If You Live, Shoot!), which was also seized because of explicit violence and was extensively re-edited (in 1975 it was re-released with the title Oro Hondo, in a longer but still incomplete version). In 1968, he directed A Curious Way to Love, an unsuccessful murder mystery starring Gina Lollobrigida and Jean-Louis Trintignant, and in 1972, Arcana, a surrealistic masterpiece which once again had distribution problems. He left cinema and in the 1970s and 1980s worked in television, directing works that include L’uomo della sabbia (1975), Vampirismus (1982) and Il segno del comando (1989), a remake of the tv film of the same title from 1971. Between 2003 and 2007, completely on his own, he made a series of seven experimental shorts (which were brought together in 2008 in the collection By Giulio Questi) in which he was the sole protagonist, as well as the director, screenwriter and editor. 2014 marked his debut as an author, when Einaudi published his collection of short stories Uomini e comandanti, for which he recently won the Piero Chiara literary award.


Le italiane e l’amore (ep. La prima notte, coregia Marco Ferreri, Gian Vittorio Baldi, cm, 1961), Universo di notte (non accr./uncred., doc., 1962), Nudi per vivere (coregia Elio Petri, Giuliano Montaldo [Elio Montesti], 1963), Amori pericolosi (ep. Il passo, coregia Carlo Lizzani, Alfredo Giannetti, mm, 1964), Se sei vivo spara (conosciuto anche come/also known as Oro Hondo o/or Django Kill, 1967), La morte ha fatto l’uovo (1968), Arcana (1972), L’uomo della sabbia (tv, 1975), Vampirismus (tv, 1982), Quando arriva il giudice (tv, 1985), Il segno del comando (tv, 1989), Non aprire all’uomo nero (tv, 1994), Il commissario Sarti (tv, 1994), By Giulio Questi (serie di cortometraggi/short films series: Doctor schizo e Mister Phrenic, Lettera da Salamanca, Tatatatango, Mysterium Noctis, Vacanze con alice, Repressione in città, Vacanze con Alice, Visitors).


film director

“Arcana was an attempt (failed, according to part of the audience) to explore the intrusion, or rather irruption, of metaphysical and paranormal activities into everyday life. This energy overflows and starts to overwhelm the protagonists’ lives, erupting toward the outside and causing trouble in the final scene in the town square.”


& Credits

Giulio Questi
Franco Arcalli, Giulio Questi
Dario Di Palma
montaggio/film editing
Franco Arcalli
scenografia/production design
Francesco De Stefano
costumi/costume design
Marilù Carteny
Romolo Grano, Berto Pisano
interpreti e personaggi/cast and characters
Lucia Bosè (la madre/mother), Maurizio Degli Esposti (il figlio/son), Tina Aumont (Brenda)
Gaspare Palumbo
Video Dungeon
Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia - Cineteca Nazionale
Laura Argento
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