“Oil makes governments fall, creates revolutions and determines world balance,” declares the doomed protagonist of Rosi’s crackling political thriller about Italy’s legendary postwar energy czar Enrico Mattei, whose attempts to revolutionize world oil control may (or may not) have led to his death in a mysterious 1962 plane crash. “The most powerful Italian since Caesar,” Mattei railed against American and Western European oil monopolies, created alliances with Third World nations (“Mao is right,” he said), and brought Italy a measure of economic self-control through his own oil deals. “In a few words, he could upset the world balance, something the war couldn’t even accomplish,” notes one reporter in Rosi’s incendiary, fractured and seething fictionalized account, a Citizen Kane of the Enron world brought to life through an extraordinary performance by Gian-Maria Volonte as a man consumed—and possibly destroyed—by power. Called “a seldom seen, massively underrated masterpiece,” by director Alex Cox.
-Jason Sanders, Pacific Film Archive Calendar
Restored by Cineteca di Bologna at L'Immagine Ritrovata in association with The Film Foundation, Paramount Pictures, and Museo Nazionale del Cinema di Torino. Restoration funded by Gucci, Eni, and The Film Foundation.