Caught in between: Profanation and Re-Sacralization in Marco Bellocchio’s Nel nome del padre (1971)

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This article assesses the coexistence of the practices of profanation and re-sacralization in one of Marco Bellocchio’s most understudied films: Nel nome del padre (In the Name of the Father, 1971). Indeed, such practices rarely situate themselves at opposite ends of the spectrum but rather are integrated within other works by the same director, and even within the same film. By providing a content and stylistic analysis of episodes of profanation and re-sacralization, this article highlights how Bellocchio profanes traditional Roman Catholic elements through the employment of parody and satire as well as how he re-sacralizes unorthodox characters and situations using narrative, symbolism, and iconography. This integration allows him to deliver his criticism of pre-conciliar Roman Catholicism (its folk manifestations at grassroots level, empty rituals, and sexuophobic education), on the one hand, and identify possible alternatives, characterized by a more progressive, tolerant, and forgiving religious sentiment, on the other. What emerges is Bellocchio’s essentially ambivalent attitude toward religion, characterized by the simultaneous and apparently contradictory need for both more and less Catholicism.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberrel9090252
Number of pages14
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 24 Aug 2018


  • Italian cinema
  • Roman Catholicism
  • religion and film
  • Marco Bellocchio
  • Nel nome del padre (1971)


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