A Film and its Era: Le petit monde de Don Camillo (Julien Duvivier)
Julien Duvivier shot The Little World of Don Camillo in 1952. Portrait of a film: Just after WWII, in an Italian village in Emilia-Romagna, priest Don Camillo and communist mayor Peppone fight for the backing of their constituents. Formerly drawn together by the Resistance, they have become political enemies who are sometimes united by a common cause, when it’s in their general interest. For this social comedy, part farce, part satire, Julien Duvivier had the genius to cast Fernandel and have him converse with Jesus. With 12 million tickets sold, the film ranks as one of the world’s most successful postwar hits. Portrait of an era: Don Camillo and Peppone represent the two faces of Italy in the late ‘40s, split into two main blocks of Catholics vs. Communists. Their dramatic yet humorous interactions merely reflect the postwar tensions of reconstruction and the beginnings of the Cold War. The film was released at a time when Italy was undergoing tremendous economic recovery. Portrait of a film director: In 1952, Julien Duvivier was 56 and had already enjoyed a long career which began back in the silent era. Along with Marcel Carné and Jean Renoir, he epitomized French cinema of the interwar period and made several masterpieces like The Red Head, They Were Five and Pépé Le Moko. In 1953, he fimed the second episode of Don Camillo’s big screen adventures.