The Traitor Director Marco Bellocchio On Dramatizing Events
Updated: Apr 5
By: Patrick Roy
With emphasis on the trail scenes and the reality of life, the Traitor is not like the usual Mafia films that you see.
The Traitor is about the life of Tommaso Buscetta, the first Sicilian Mafia boss who collaborated with Italian justice system. At Toronto film festival, Bellocchio told us how he wanted to make this film different from great films in this genre like The Godfather.
“You have The Godfather, which is a great film but it is pure fiction. Here, we have a more personal, expressive need to tell a story, which is also a profound way to tell a story. We have to reproduce reality. We have to dramatize events that actually took place in real life. We start from a realistic foundation and then we move around in a personal way without falsifying any facts, without inventing anything but by representing history pretty much the way it happened. Then we add our own style, of course, our own choices, our own way of making cinema which is separate from a documentary, a realistic way of approaching filmmaking.”
For Bellocchio, betrayal says a lot about the character of Buscetta:
“ the main character betrays the society in which he grew up, that he comes from. So Sicily, the Mafia, they consider him a traitor. That’s the first meaning. He betrays his origins and he betrays his principles. The principles of this society are that even though you have enemies within the Mafia, within the Cosa Nostra, you must never betray the Mafia, you must never go to the other side, to the state’s side, and become a witness. There are other types of betrayals which can be positive so, for example, the overcoming of one’s condition, which can be very positive. In my case, I betrayed the Quoran code, my Catholic training, and my Catholic origins. I find that to be a positive thing because I rejected that aspect of my past. Betrayal can have many meanings. There is also the betrayal of your friend, somebody who cares about you and loves you so obviously that is a negative type of betrayal. “
As the director told us you need to give yourself a poetic license to shift event, while making a film.
"We gave ourselves some poetic licence to shift around some events. We did that with the turncoat Cancemi revealing how the two children were killed when in reality that happened years later. We took the liberty of moving this incident forward in the storytelling because I have the freedom to do that as a storyteller".
The film shows several different international locations like Sicily, Rome, Brazil and the United States. But as the director told us nowadays , you could make a film with different international locations, without necessary moving there.
“Well, we never went to the United States and the scenes that are set in there were shot in Brazil and Germany. The supermarket scene and the maximum-security prison scenes were shot in Germany. Buscetta died in the year 2000 and the scene of his death, which in real life took place in Miami, was actually shot by the sea in Brazil for budget reasons. We did the best that we could and this is a normal way of making films. “
The Traitor, directed by Marco Bellocchio and starring Pierfrancesco Favino, opened Jan 30.