"Hell is nearby. It's underground and we're inside it. I'm here to lead you there by the hand.."
- Priest (Marcello Mastroianni)
An epidemic is sweeping Italy killing its population. The countries elite gather at religious retreat in a top secret underground bunker for a 3 day spiritual exercise, in the hope of finding the divine will to save the nation. Only bickering over religious & political dogma causes the attendees to deviate from their intended goal, eventually the corporate chairmen and politicians begin dying.
Due to my total lack of knowledge regarding Italian political system of the 70s the plot (and to a large extent the movie itself) was totally wasted on me, from what little I've read since Elio Petri's 'Todo Modo' was communist author Leonardo Sciascia's scathing attack on Italy's Christian Democratic party (which is now defunct) and politician Aldo Moro who was assassinated within 5 years of it being published. Visually and aurally though its really impressive, its bunker set complete with odd plaster statues and religious symbols resembled the wacky war one from Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove. And Ennio Morricone's sinister score (which bares a little resemble to Dr. Phibes at times) wouldn't have seemed out of place in a giallo. Both Gian Maria Volonté as president M and the smooth Marcello Mastroianni as the chief priest gave brilliant performances, as did Ciccio Ingrassia as the self flagellating Voltrano. I'd imagine those who know their Italian politics or willing to read, would appreciate this far more than I did. Ohh if it didn't have such a neat poster and wasn't one letterboxd's LordCookie hadn't put in his films seen 1st time in 2014 list, I'd probably never have seen it.
[Personal Reasons For Remembering]
The ending was pretty damn surreal and atmospheric.
Originally taken from Letterboxd