director Roberto Rossellini
I doubt that Machine to Kill Bad People is really the best place to start with director Roberto Rossellini, but…whatchagonnado?
Much more famous for neorealist fare like Rome, Open City (1945), Paisan (1946), Germany, Year Zero (1948), Rossellini hasn’t been a filmmaker that I would have associated with the supernatural or fantasy genres. Machine to Kill Bad People is said to be a transitional film for him, still bearing characteristics of Italian neorealism, but also being a satire or comedy featuring a saint or a demon.
Set in a small coastal village, the story that sounds like it could be rather pulpy certainly forgoes anything really lurid. A town’s patron saint has become dissatisfied with the modernization and the bad habits of the townspeople. He imbues a local cameraman’s camera with the power to kill those it photographs, with the idea of “cleaning up the town” of its “bad people”
Constantin Parvulescu wrote a rather in-depth article for Senses of Cinema with more keened-in analysis that delves into the social critiques as well as the film’s meta criticism of the camera and cinema. Since I can’t do it more justice, I’ll shut up about it.
Finally getting around to Rossellini, yet there is much more to see.