Friday, June 11, 2021

Il bidone

"Such Is Man"

The great irony of Il bidone [The Swindle, Federico Fellini, 1955] is that the labor the swindlers exert when pulling off their heists is at least equal to that of the common, 'actual' laborer's on any day's duty. A double-meaning in the film title — who, really, is the target of the swindle? There are the destitute targets of Crawford, Basehart, et al., but aren't these men, dressed in frocks, some kind of misdirected pigeons? (And yet is there a difference — isn't work Work?) Fellini takes care here not to have them guided by a benevolent source, such as destiny, as in I vitelloni. This is proletariat socialist cinema, which holds through to the epiphanic scene of a miraculous transfer of empathy between a lame young woman and Crawford in garb-of-monsignor. The time to "act" is then, which task each priest plays out once they don their robes: Crawford's persuaded to conjure up life-advice.

So in summary this swindle involves: talking (acting), costumes, pre-planning to a tee, manual labor on the spot to bury then later dig up the treasure. By proxy Il bidone goes after the Catholic Church and their conception of labor as the source of alms. (The gas station owner tells one of the minions he owns all the land around the station: "If you only knew..." in reference to what it took to get there...)