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A detective (inspector Rogas) is assigned to investigate the mysterious murders of some Supreme Court judges. During the investigation he discovers a complot that involves the Italian Communist PartyWritten by
Michel Rudoy <email@example.com>
Director Francesco Rosi calls ILLUSTRIOUS CORPSES "a trip through the monsters and monstrosities of power." It is a detective thriller with the format of a political expose and deals with an unseen killer whose victims are judges, public prosecutors and magistrates. Viewers who have seen Rosi's THREE BROTHERS remember that one of the episodes in that film deals with a magistrate has a nightmare in which he envisions his own murder my terrorists. In ILLUSTRIOUS CORPSES Rosi elevates the crime of assassination to a cataclysmic dimension within which a modern industrial society is dragged to the brink of collapse. It is a structurally elliptical but harrowing picture of the weaknesses in social foundations and the fragility of all government. The country the movie is set in is unspecified although it clearly seems to be Italy. Yet the film is unspecific enough to represent any nation portrayed as being on the brink of anarchy. The eerie opening is set in Palermo's Convento dei Cappuccini with its crypt of 8000 bodies, some mummified, some rotting in subterranean corridors. Rosi turns those images into a horrific metaphor of political and social transience that are the themes of this movie. In the final sequence, oceans of banner-waving Communists are cut with noisily revving tanks being readied for a rightist takeover of power. One should observe that Rosi's left-wing political biases admit only of right-wing coups as being ominous. Nevertheless, it is an unsettling finale to a remarkable and unsettling film.
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