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August 04, 2014

The Bankers of God: The Calvi Affair

banker of god.jpg

I Banchieri di Dio
Giuseppe Ferrara - 2002
Raro Video Blu-ray Region A

This is one those films that should have been more interesting. The subject matter was there: a banker finds himself up to his neck, with complicated financial schemes involving the Vatican, organized crime, and the Italian government. If that's not enough, there are the rival factions within those various organizations, and the banker, Roberto Calvi, has damaging information on everyone. And this is a true story.

Whatever potential there was for an involving story gets lost. Maybe Italian audiences found this film to be of interest, but there seemed to be little of interest gong on here, until near the end when Calvi is set up for a murder staged to look like a suicide, hanging underneath the Blackfriar Bridge. The languid pacing did not help, with a narrative mostly composed of meeting between the various players. This is the kind of subject matter handled better by Francesco Rosi in several of his films.

I tried watching this film in Italian but found myself distracted by dubbing that did not appear to synch properly. The English dubbing is even stranger, sounding as it did as if recorded in an echo chamber at times. Neither voice used for Rutger Hauer, playing the Vatican's top banker, was anything close to Hauer's own voice. The blu-ray also includes a documentary supplement about Calvi and the Blackfriar Bridge that inexplicably does not have either subtitles or an English language track.

Unsurprisingly, the best part of this film is the score, by the usually excellent Pino Donaggio.

Posted by peter at August 4, 2014 07:16 AM