Kidnapped review – Marco Bellocchio’s antisemitism drama is a classic in the making

Cannes is this year becoming a counterblast to ageism. Italian director Marco Bellocchio, at the age of 83 – and almost 60 years after he first came to prominence with his 1965 movie Fists in the Pocket – has created a gripping, heartbreaking true-political crime story from the pages of history. It is a full-tilt melodrama with the passionate vehemence of Victor Hugo or Charles Dickens, which lays bare an ugly formative episode of Europe’s Catholic church: an affair of antisemitism and child abuse.

It is based on the true story of Edgardo Mortara, a young Jewish child in Bologna who, in 1858, when he was six, was taken away from his family by the papal authorities. This was done because Edgardo’s doting Catholic nursemaid had claimed that when Edgardo was a baby, and apparently in dire sickness, she had presumed to carry out an emergency baptism, because she feared Edgardo would die and go to limbo. The fanatical Inquisition authorities affected to believe that the Jewish…

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This article was written by Peter Bradshaw and originally published on