Review: Kidnapped: The Abduction of Edgardo Mortara

Marco Bellocchio’s Kidnapped: The Abduction of Edgardo Mortara (Rapito), just opened in cinemas is a period drama based on a Jewish family living in Bologna belonging to the Papal States where Pius XI (Paolo Pierobon) was Pope King. 

In 1858, Papal soldiers burst into the Mortaras’ home and take away their six-year-old son
Edgardo (Enea Sala, later Leonardo Maltese), claiming that he had been secretly baptized as a baby. The Papal law is unquestionable. The boy must receive a Catholic education. The Mortara case renowned in the 1850s and 1860s, capturing the attention of Europe and North America. 

While his parents (Ronchi and Fausto Russo Alesi) fight to get him back, the Pope says “non possumus” (“we cannot”) unless they convert. The film paints a vivid and compelling picture of persecution of Jews in Europe at the time. As we know the history of the holocaust in Germany, this film sheds a light of the plight of Jews in the rest or Europe.

The film is directed by Marco Bellocchio, a mainstay of Italian cinema for almost 60 years, who co-wrote the script with Susanna Nicchiarelli, in collaboration with Edoardo Albinat and Daniela Ceselli, loosely inspired by Daniele Scalise’s book Il caso Mortara, 

The cinematography really adds to the intense drama spanning 20 years with many twists – and turns. After premiering In Competition at Cannes 2023, the film went on to dominate the 2023 awards from the Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists, winning Best Film, Director, Screenplay and Actress (Barbara Ronchi). The film is in Italian and Hebrew with English subtitles.