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THE KINGDOM OF NAPLES

Germany, 1978 (MIFF 1979)

Director: Werner Schroeter

Werner Schroeter, the celebrated German avant-garde filmmaker, who studied in Naples, made his first narrative film in The Kingdom of Naples.

This is a chronicle about a poor family and their neighbours spanning thirty years. The milieu is the slums of Naples, a commune formed in the Via Mannella during the difficult years of the war.

On the day of the German withdrawal from Naples in 1944, a daughter, Vittoria, in born to the Pagano family. The midwife, Rosaria a'Frances, delivers the girl, as she will later the Pagano's son, Massimo.

We also follow the fate of the Caviolis, so desperately poor that Valeria sells her daughter to an American soldier for a sack of flour. Palumbo, who is the first to move into the bourgeoisie, is expelled from the Via Mannella commune.

Vittoria and Massimo are growing up; their father cannot find any work, but pursues his radical socialist aims with the same fervour as his wife brings to her devotion of the Church. The mother dies, and the family grows apart. Pagano sinks deeper and deeper into resignation; Vittoria is consoled by her sense of piety; Massimo becomes a paper boy for the Communist Party. Vittoria's first job as a cleaner in a metal factory does not last long, because the factory owner wants her to marry his nephew. She now realises that she can rely only on her own efforts, and resolves to get ahead in the world by educating herself.

In the meantime, Rosaria, the midwife, has become a prostitute. She moves to a slum near the harbour and occasionally Massimo solicits clients for her.

Valeria Cavioli's life has changed too. She has married again — this time a refugee named Simonetti, who is soon to play an important part in the Communist Party. When her daughter Rosa dies, she shoots her husband, mistakenly blaming him for failing to get drugs that could have saved the girl's life.

Massimo gets two years in prison for taking part in a Vietnam demonstration that ends in violence, and his father, now quite alone, deteriorates more and more. Vittoria studies languages and learns the hotel trade. She is now a hostess with a shipping line. Massimo remains uneducated. The Party, for which he has worked for so many years, rewards him with a humdrum job, without hope of promotion. One night, during the 1977 Carnival, he comes across Rosaria again, a destitute wreck, who dies in a corner like an abandoned animal.

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