I'M NOT SCARED (IO NON HO PAURA)
Complex Dualities Through a Child’s Eyes
Release Date: April 09, 2004
Starring: Giuseppe Cristiano, Dino
Abbrescia, Mattia Di Pierro,
Aitana Sánchez-Gijón, and
Runtime: 95 minutes
Distributor: Miramax Films/Buena Vista/Walt
Director: Gabriele Salvatores
Marco Chimenz, Giovanni
Stabilini, Maurizio Totti, and
Producer: Marco Chimenz, Giovanni
Stabilini, Maurizio Totti, and
Riccardo Tozzi EXECUTIVE
Writer: Niccolò Ammaniti and
Francesca Marciano BASED ON
THE NOVEL/PLAY BY: Niccolò
Address Comments To:Bob and Harvey Weinstein
375 Greenwich Street
New York, NY 10013
Phone: (323) 822-4100 and (212) 941-3800
Fax: (212) 941-3846
The movie is about Michele, a 10-year-old boy growing up in rural southern Italy in the 1970’s. While playing in a field one afternoon, he stumbles across a hollow space in the ground. Michele peers in and sees a human leg sticking out from a blanket. He cannot shake the image of the leg, so he goes back some days later.
It is boyhood curiosity and not heroism that compels Michele to return several times to the hole. Eventually he meets the boy inside, who has been stuck in the dark, damp cavern for weeks. Due to neglect, the boy cannot open his eyes and can barely speak. He is also covered with dirt and sores. Michele sees the boy as a sort of pet and brings him food.
Noticing the strange behavior inside his house lately, Michele stays up one night to eavesdrop on his parents and their friends. He fatefully learns that much of his village is involved in the effort to hold this boy, Filippo, hostage after kidnapping him from his rich north Italian family. It’s at this point that the story becomes really interesting – more than a simple mystery.
The audience gets to observe Michele as he must confront the idea that the family and neighbors whom he loves and trusts are the same people who kidnapped Filippo and shackled him in a deep underground cellar. How does anyone, much less a 10-year-old, understand sharp dualities like that one? How can Michele understand that the father who loves him, teaches him, and plays with him is capable of such grisly acts?
Then, the conflict arises. Michele must decide whether to protect his family or protect the kidnapped boy, whose life is suddenly in immediate danger. It becomes a problem of morality versus affection, charity versus loyalty. In the end, the life of the boy is more important than his parents being found by police or even the risk that Michele himself will get in trouble. And, for his courageous act, he does pay a price.
Because Michele is 10, however, his decision is less a reasoned one than an instinct, although it is clear that he is operating on some principle instead of pure emotion. I’M NOT SCARED examines tough moral choices, but it does so without any religious and only minimal critical, reasoned moral framework. The movie, therefore, opens some interesting questions – questions very similarly raised by David Lynch in TWIN PEAKS and BLUE VELVET – but the movie fails to explore them to a satisfying depth.
I’M NOT SCARED makes a great springboard for family discussions about objective morality and when to stick to principles (i.e., all of the time). Because the movie’s tone is so straightforward, it is easy to use the characters and events as illustrations. The six utterances of the F-word warranted an R rating from the MPAA, but without that handful of foul language, it would be in light PG-13 territory.
I’M NOT SCARED poses some interesting questions but stops just short of exploring them at a satisfying depth. Despite its smattering of strong foul language, it can serve as a springboard for discussion about objective morality and the importance of sticking to principles.