The documentary by Fellini and Scolari about the world champion in 1982, Paolo Rossi.
It arrives at the cinema from July 5, 2022, on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the victory of the Italian national team 1982 World Cup in Spain, PAOLO ROSSI – The man. The test. The legend.
The contemporary media sphere is characterized by a very large number of narrative, oral, literary, but above all visual means, whose function seems to be to transform every element of human life into a formal abstraction, which is given a more cultural meaning from time. on time. abundant. This process, implemented by an ever-growing entertainment industry that Eco remembered, places subjective symbols attached to popular culture instead of universal symbols of traditional culture. This generates new mythologies specific to modernity. Football in Italy is one of them. Several times and from many sides, the ball game has been overloaded with symbolic structures that link the identities of individual clubs directly to the socio-political identities of the cities they represent. Up to the consequent construction of a connection between the national football team and the identity of the Italian nation.
Paolo Rossi – Manden. The test. The legend is an unprecedented portrait of Pablito
The documentary Paolo Rossi – Manden. The test. The legend by Gianluca Fellini and Michela Scolari does not escape this type of myth-making process, but instead fully supports it, providing an updated example of what Károly Kerényi called the technicalization of myth. That is, based on the images of a primeval myth, the football just described, new images are offered, cinematic, which acquire a political significance.
The story that is told is the human and football player of striker Paolo Rossi: a boy from Santa Lucia, a fraction of Prato, who starts playing at the age of nine for Santa Lucia and never stops until he becomes a professional, passes through Vicenza , Juventus and especially for the Italian national team. The same national team that defeated Germany in 1982 and became world champion. Rossi’s life is told mainly through the lights, while the shadows are omitted. The film uses the documentary’s classic language, changing interviews and period footage. At the closing and opening, there is also a reconstruction of the fiction, where some children play football on the street. There are no experiments or flashbacks. Everything is functional to build the narrative of a human parable, where a boy of humble origin, thanks to hard work and passion for sports, becomes a champion who is able to lead Italy to win the world championships. Through therefore the heroic representation of Rossi, always framed in close and very close-ups, with strong caravaggian contrasts and the use of the construction of a symbolic clash between color images, of joy and play, of the World Cup match and those in black and white of a gloomy Italy, prey to political unrest and massacres, the football myth is reaffirmed. National sport emerges as the only meritocratic system in an imperfect democracy, besieged by political extremism and social inequalities. Any mention of the transfer market and the Totonero scandal (a scandal that also hit Rossi) is refuted. All the problems of an entertainment that moves huge capital and interests of various kinds are brought back to an alleged corruption of the modern football system, as opposed to what Rossi and other interviewed masters, such as Pele and Maradona, came from. This discursive strategy of Fellini and Scolari is functional in recreating the myth of a golden age, a kind of Arcadia of football. In such a mythical time, everything was simpler and cleaner, according to the subtitle of the documentary. It could happen that the victory at the 1982 World Cup became a concrete and tangible symbol of a victory for Italy, understood as an economic and social system, against the demands for political change that had threatened it in the seventies.
The film’s mythopathic machine is therefore used to create an image of a world of the past, pure and centered on values such as the patriotic spirit and unity under the (national) flag. It does so through the idealized biography of an athlete, made nationally popular avatar – Paolo Rossi, Pablito – who presses the viewer to recognize himself in these values. The most disturbing thing in this discourse is the reduction of all the political struggles waged in the seventies, within a single chaotic cauldron made of violence, where black subversion and state massacres resemble the armed struggle of the left – an example of this is the “Freudian drop “, for which a commentary on a repertoire film defines RB as an ultra-right group.
In the end, this work appears more like a hagiography than a biography that seeks to restore a simplified worldview. A vision based on the forbidden neoliberal faith dogma, according to which it is enough to believe in oneself and in one’s country to succeed in life. That is, the modern myth of meritocracy, which has penetrated the entertainment industry globally since the seventies, and which seeks to hide all the social inequalities and atrocities generated by the free market, within very spectacular narratives, be they big Hollywood blockbusters or the Italian football show.