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Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion

Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion (1970)

Director: Elio Petri
Writers: Elio Petri & Ugo Pirro
Cast: Gian Maria Volontè, Florinda Bolkan, Gianni Santuccio
Genre: Drama Satire

A chief of detectives, homicide section, kills his mistress and deliberately leaves clues to prove his own responsibility for the crime.
A symbolic representation of the dangers of the breakdown of democracy. Italy's fragile democratic government in the late 1960s was in danger of being subverted by communist youth sympathizers and anarchist. Social discord was rampant in the late 60s and the very fabric of Italy's democracy was in danger of being eroded from both leftist and from reactionary right wingers. This is what the film is about....polar opposites of the political social spectrum that threaten democracy by their extremism.

The film uses surrealistic satire to commentate on social problems. In the film the Chief of Homicide Police sacrifices himself by commenting a murder in order to teach his subordinates the meaning of democracy, in which no one is above suspicion, not even the Chief of Homicide Police. He plants clues for his fellow detectives to find, and is disappointed when they turn a blind eye to their duties. Duty and democracy is what he wishes to teach them, but like a bad nightmare, they won't believe he's a suspect in a murder case. In a sense the murder is the hero who has given his all to the state, and his hapless employees are the enemy who won't act like citizens of a democracy.

The murdered girl is symbolic of murdered free thought. She's a free spirit who's symbolic killed by bureaucratic complacency. The film makes sure the audience knows all of this by having the dead girl tell the Chief (and thereforth us), that she didn't mind be killed at all, because she would have ended up murdered anyway. Thus she's symbolic dead, and the Chief is a symbolic murderer, and the real death is civic duty.

Interesting film.