“PROPERTY IS NO LONGER A THEFT”– A Corrupt Society

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“Property Is No Longer a Theft” (“La proprietà non è più un furto”)

A Corrupt Society

Amos Lassen

Italian master Elio Petri brings us a black comedy with “Property is No Longer a Sin”. Total (Flavio Bucci) is a young bank clerk who has been denied a loan by his employer, decides to exact his revenge the local butcher (Ugo Tognazzi), a nasty, violent, greedy man who is also one of the bank’s star customers. He quits his job and spends all of his time tormenting the butcher, stealing his possessions one-by-one, including his mistress (Daria Nicolodi).

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Total is something of a modern day Robin Hood and feels that in order and is so exasperated by the way the society around him behaves that he decides that he must mine rich people’s private property in order to shock them. He enters the dark world of delinquency meeting a professional thief that he manages to blackmail so that he can help him in his misdoings. The story sits somewhere between Marxist idealism and pure delinquency Total some of the money and good times that he sees other having but he understands that it’s impossible.

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This is a well-told tale of corruption and theft. Director Petri looks at inequality in society, the issue of property and at money itself. We see the human part of the rat race and that it is necessary to become more powerful, socially accepted and approved, irrespective of all hidden necessary, immoral ways. The butcher represents the rich and Petri points out that all those people who want to dominate, are unscrupulous and pitiless, as the poor who often are honest ones will never achieve better life conditions, since either they are limited by religious as well as state laws or on breaching overtly all those moral boundaries they are banished from the society. The only way their lives are considered acceptable is for them to obey the rules and submit to rich people who are protected by their wealth and power. We see a bank (the heart of consumerism) compared to the church. To make this allusion even more visible, the bank is full of images depicting the Holy Trinity. Also, just like in the “Holy Church”, in the rat race, which is called here a “religion of property”, there is a certain hierarchy and blasphemies. Total’s setting paper money on fire causes a tantrum to be thrown. (when the clerk Total sets a banknote on fire, the director is disgusted and almost throws a tantrum).

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At times, I felt the plot to be overwhelming and the message of the film is radical. Yet we can overlook these because of how wonderful the film is otherwise. It is filled with ideas and has a brilliant Morricone musical score. The atmosphere is tinged erotically and beautifully encapsulates the political situation of Italy.

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Petri delivers an interesting satire on the thematic level, but it does present a little too caricature and misanthropy.

SPECIAL EDITION CONTENTS:

 

  • 4K restoration from the original film negative
  • High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentations
  • New subtitle translation
  • Brand-new interview with actor Flavio Bucci
  • Brand-new interview with producer Claudio Mancini
  • Brand-new interview with make-up artist Pierantonio Mecacci
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Nathanael Marsh

FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector’s booklet containing new writing on the film by Camilla Zamboni

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