For Italy, Fiat cars topper Giovanni Agnelli was a cross between Henry Ford and Peter the Great. His death ended an era, which helmer Armando Ceste cleverly explores by way of Shakespeare. Adventurous fests with literary or radical bents would do well to pick this one up.

For Italy, Fiat cars topper Giovanni Agnelli was a cross between Henry Ford and Peter the Great. His death in 2003 ended an era, which helmer Armando Ceste cleverly explores by way of Shakespeare in “A Fiat Hamlet.” Miraculously side-stepping the precious or farfetched, Ceste uses “Hamlet” as a mirror for scrutinizing Turin’s working class past viewed through Fiat’s failing fortunes. Some knowledge of Agnelli and recent Turin history is helpful, but adventurous fests with literary or radical bents would do well to pick this one up.

In its industrial heyday, Turin was the auto worker capital of Europe, but declining sales led to factory closings and massive lay-offs. City officials are keen to refashion another image, but Ceste uses the ghost’s imperative in “Hamlet,” “Remember me!” to call attention to the willful suppression of its proletariat past. Interviews with sociologists, set within the mangled remains of factories, are crosscut with legit director Beppe Rosso and a staged reading of “Hamlet” using Fiat workers as actors. The Bard’s words act as springboards for relevant discussions of labor history and responsibility, making for an unlikely, but successful mix.

A Fiat Hamlet

Italy

Production

An AC/Cinema&Video-2003 production, in collaboration with the Archivio Audiovisuale del Movimento Operaio. Directed by Armando Ceste. Written by Ceste, Beppe Rosso.

Crew

Camera (color/B&W, Betacam), Ceste, Adonella Marena; editors, Roberto Allegro, Ceste. Reviewed at Turin Film Festival (out of competition), Nov. 20, 2003. Running time: 66 MIN.

With

Beppe Rosso, Marco Revelli, Gabriele Vacis, Valentino Castellani, Giovanni Moretti, Angelo D'Orsi, Massimo Novelli, Sergio Cusani, Stefania Pepe.
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