Le Retour De Don Camillo

Julien Duvivier

T. It.: Il Ritorno Di don Camillo; Sog.: Adattamento Da Raccontidi”Mondo Piccolo – Don Camillo” Di Giovannino Guareschi; Scen.: Julien Duvivier, René Barjavel; F.: Anchise Brizzi; Mo.: Remo Crespina; Scgf.: Virgilio Marchi; Mu.: Alessandro Cicognini; Su.: Bruno Brunacci, William Sivel; Int.: Fernandel (Don Camillo), Gino Cervi(Peppone Bottazzi), Jean Debucourt (Voce Digesù Cristo), Paolo Stoppa (Marchetti), Edouard Delmont (Spiletti), Alexandre Rignault (Il Nero), Thomy Bourdelle (Cagnola), Saro Urzì (Brusco), Charles Vissières (Il Vescovo), Manuel Gary (Il Delegato), Leda Gloria (Maria, Moglie Dipeppone), Luciano Manara (Filotti), Armando Migliari(Brusco), Mario Siletti(Avvocato Stiletti), Marco Tulli(Lo Smilzo), Gualtiero Tumiati(Ciro Della Bruciata, Il Nonno), Giorgio Albertazzi(Don Pietro), Claude Chapelan (Beppo); Prod.: Robert Chabert Per Francinex/Filmsonor/Ariane (Paris) E Giuseppe Amato Per Rizzolifilm (Roma); Pri. Pro.: Parigi, 5 Giugno 1953; 35mm. D.: 115′. Bn

T. it.: Italian title. T. int.: International title. T. alt.: Alternative title. Sog.: Story. Scen.: Screenplay. F.: Cinematography. M.: Editing. Scgf.: Set Design. Mus.: Music. Int.: Cast. Prod.: Production Company. L.: Length. D.: Running Time. f/s: Frames per second. Bn.: Black e White. Col.: Color. Da: Print source

Film Notes

Julien Duvivier created a more melancholic and bitter tone for The Return of Don Camillo in comparison with the first film. The opening sequence – the disappointment awaiting don Camillo when he arrives in the mountain town thinking he will be greeted by a happy crowd when instead he is ignored – almost seems to contradict the reassuring spirit of the ending of The Little World of Don Camillo. The priest’s temporary exile connects him (even if just slightly) to the other marginalized characters in Duvivier’s films, in particular because don Camillo suffers from homesickness and grieves over the crucifix’s silence. The exile scenes also happen to be the most beautiful in the film; the French director gives the story a real edge, avoiding sentimentalism and maintaining a subtle balance between melancholy and irony. For example, take the scene in which don Camillo discovers the snowy, misty landscape wrapped in fog of his mountain retreat and the bleakness of the run-down rectory where he will have to live in almost complete isolation and indifference.

The French version has several important differences from the Italian one, which censors had cut numerous scenes from. The French version contains one of the most poetic scenes, which is destroyed in the Italian version: the painful experience of don Camillo bringing his old crucifix to the rectory to ease his solitude. He buckles under it while the snow slowly falls on him and with child-like delight discovers that the crucifix talks to him once again. Duvivier knows how to avoid clichés and create the magic atmosphere of a fairy tale. In the scene where don Camillo and Peppone find a fascist draft-dodger (Paolo Stoppa), his directing takes on a realism not lacking in cruelty (revealing the priest’s petty side), while in Guareschi’s story the same situation is much milder. Another scene partially cut from the Italian version is the encounter between don Camillo and Peppone’s son, who does not want to do what his father has chosen for him, preferring life in the country to studying. Also worth mentioning is the scene in which Spiletti (Edouard Delmont), a decrepit old man who manages to keep putting off death, convinces Nero, a militant leftist, to sell him his soul. A mostly French co-production, Le retour de Don Camillo came out in Paris before it did in Italy. Giovannino Guareschi wrote a long reprimanding text against the additions and changes Duvivier wanted; the French director would have ended the film with don Camillo drowning in the flood and awakening in paradise that is identical to his beloved hometown. But the director gave in to the writer (and especially to the producer). So the priest reaches a better life only in a dream and is disappointed when he awakens to the face of Peppone and not the Heavenly Father.

Roberto Chiesi

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