In an effort to rejuvenate my thirst for film I have partaken on an ambitious endeavor. I have decided to compile my list of 100 favorite films, “rewatch” them, and write a brief review. I encourage you to follow along.
Don’t Torture a Duckling (Fulci, 1972)
Innocence is sacred. It is untouched by the disappointments of the unknown world outside of a child’s imagination. It is a pristine water where even a boy’s fantasies of the naked flesh are cleansed. But the world around a child inevitably encroaches. He will begin to understand the whispering tongues of intrigue, and the pale fear of reality, where pain is more than a skinned knee or broken tooth.
The loss of innocence is a difficult experience, but a necessary one. It is full of fear and confusion for the child, but also for the adults who seek to protect their innocence. This is what propels Lucio Fulci’s film.
It takes place in a small village, seemingly untouched by time. For the people of the village faith, and superstition still exists in everything, right down to the very dust they breathe in their lungs. We find that this village is now at a crossroads between the antiquated beliefs of the old country, and the encroaching modern world at its doorstep. Fulci represents this by showing us the elevated highway that cuts through the rocky rural environment. We rarely see the adults anywhere near the highway, but we often see the children walking under or around the road. The children of this town are being pulled into the warm bosom of the modern world, a world where innocence is not coddled, in fact, it is gleefully plucked from the young. No scene is more representative of this than that of a boy encountering a nude woman. The woman is an outsider from Milan, she is free and careless with her nudity and sexuality, and finds a disturbing humor in exposing herself to the boy, she even toys with the idea of sleeping with him. This is an absurd exaggeration of the point Fulci tries to make, but there is a great honesty to the heightened sense of morality. To put it as bluntly as the film does, this is a clash between worlds, and the children are caught in the middle, oblivious and innocent.
The children are simply following the natural progression of life, like the currents of a river, but the adults, the monsters of fear and superstition angrily claw at any threat to their ideals. It is one of the primal fears for all of us, the fear of change. Our familiarities can sometimes breed a powerful need to protect what we believe to be truth, while being so willfully ignorant to the indifference of progression.
– James Merolla