Cinema has profusely explored apocalyptic visions of a local, regional or global scale and the situations that accompany them. And one of those that recurs is the final renunciation of the sensual pleasures which are forbidden to us in the current discourse of the time. It is a very human impulse that is activated like a switch when it is the realization that all is lost. That is why, in the face of any major disaster, one of the iconic images is the looting of electrical appliances stores, revealing that we have a strange conviction that at the end of the world there will be electricity broadcasting and television. That is why, when a volcano erupts, the first impulse is to call for calm: “Give me time to eat, give me time to eat without problem.”
The end of the world does not have to signify the end of all things, it is sufficient that it signifies the end of time. That is, giving up excess, to gluttony and gluttony, is characteristic of decadence. in The big feastl Marco Ferreriand write Rafael Azconagiants Marcello MastroianniAnd Hugh TognazziAnd Michael Piccoli y Philip Nauert They are, respectively, an airplane pilot, a wealthy businessman, a famous chef, and a famous judge, who plot suicide out of drunkenness, locked in a country house and, of course, accompanied by a group of prostitutes, for an orgy of gluttony and lust. The relief goes from the playful and playful to the grotesque and tragic, to material and moral self-destruction. Watching the movie, it’s not hard to imagine Donald TrumpAnd Boris JohnsonAnd Russian President Vladimir Putin Or of course Silvio Berlusconi Secondary to this horror comedy.
It is not much different from the Meroitic Salo or 120 days of Sodoml Pier Paolo Pasoliniwhich adapts a text on that decadent process set forth by the Marquis de Sade, author of the original text, in the Testament of Louis XIV and that Pasolini had moved with good judgment to the Republic of Salò, which the Nazis had established in northern Italy in the last phase of the Second World War, after the fall of Mussolini And when fascism was already observing the end of its era.
Perhaps the extraordinary sensitivity of Italian cinema to these processes is due to the weight that the end of the Roman Empire had in shaping the cultural identity of the country, a country that existed after itself, in the realization that the glorious times were centuries behind. satirel Federico Fellini; Night porterl Liliana Cavanior that fresco of self-indulgence Great beautyl Paolo Sorrentinoare typical examples of the more elaborate decadence, that is, the aristocratic devotion to worldly pleasures found in what the protagonists interpret as the end of time, a period often no more than the end of their own.
The prominent student of the Chronicles of Decadence is the Swede Robin Ostlund. in force majeure, which he won for the first time in Cannes, we witness an avalanche at a ski resort just like the La Palma volcano scene that opened our conversation, and we see how miscalculations about the avalanche’s scale erode identity and emotions. in Square y Sadness triangle, for which he twice won the Palme d’Or at the most decadent festival in France, the Swede crudely describes the habits of his country’s decadent and servile bourgeoisie. Not even three months have passed since the premiere of the last film and the entry of the far right into the Swedish government.
Decadence is imposed as discourse when the conviction that everything comes to an end is fixed. Or at least, that something is coming to an end. It is characterized by the absence of modesty and decency and the minimum level of containment, respect and decency. It is a waiver of the formal and the intellectual in favor of the explicit and the inward. It is the last flight of the law towards the jungle, and also to the non-existent childhood paradise. It is a return to the animal state.
The new regional and municipal governments of the conservative and reactionary coalitions have raised their salaries dramatically, they want to exploit the bloodless aquifers of the southern half of the country, continue to burn coal, widen the lanes for cars, separate pedestrians and cyclists, give up any justification in the fight against sexual violence or in relation to sexual diversity, and censor Catholic cultural works that question morality after they have funded Catholic cultural works. Children, lowering taxes for the most privileged, and seeing desertification in the country as opportunities to increase tourism and hotel exploitation.
From all that has been said, evidence and doubts emerge. The first, most obvious, which Ostlund emphasizes in his films, is that decadence and far-right (or fascism, if you prefer) are phases of the same phenomenon. The other, suspicion, is that the Entire Planet Rights Radicals identify themselves as climate emergency deniers, but they are lying. They believe in climate breakdown and in fact, I would say they don’t think about anything else. They simply want you to be unbelievable while they stage their parties at their lodge, cruise ship or private island.