Proof of Existence: The Films of Elio Petri

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"One of the better Oscar-acceptances was by Elio Petri, who said he was too busy working on another film and sent Leslie Caron to accept it with no prepared statement. Meanwhile, he was in the middle of THE WORKING CLASS GOES TO HEAVEN, with Gian Maria Volonté on set, complaining that the script went against the Communist Party and getting into fist fights with students. The film itself would go on to piss off the radical Italian left and tie for the Grand Prize at Cannes.

"Petri studied with the neo-realists, but his films do not dwell on portraits: instead, they show how individual psychologies conflict with their social and political world. The contents of an individual are in high contrast: what contains a person is constantly trying to burst out and inflict some damage on the social and economic strictures. What makes a character is not that they play out a minor drama or undergo a personal change, but that they rip at the contradictions in their physical world, and in doing so, truly exist. Petri called these “dialectical films” – those that showed the tension and contradictions of life rather than mere representations. They are not only intense, but also cunning, desperate, funny, and strange." –Spectacle