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Happy as Lazzaro

Alice Rohrwacher has made a modern sacred story, a parable of oppression, absent resistance, the desire for submission, and group mentalities.


The tobacco plantation “Inviolata“ seems anachronistic. The Marchesa Alfonsina de Luna treats her employees like slaves. They don‘t get wages, the most they get is a few potatoes and a piece of soap, if the manager is generous. The worst tasks are always done by the quiet, always helpful Lazzaro, whom everyone thinks is an idiot. But the innocent Lazzaro just wants to do good. When Tancredi, the son of the Marchesa, comes to the village from the city, he is so bored that he begins to take an interest in Lazzaro. Tancredi ruthlessly uses Lazzaro‘s good-naturedness and knows how to sell it as a friendship. When Tancredi develops a plan to steal his mother‘s money, it leads to a collapse of the entire system and ends with Lazzaro being expelled into the city and the modern world.

Alice Rohrwacher‘s film HAPPY AS LAZZARO was a huge success in Cannes and was considered a main contender for the Golden Palm. In the end it “only“ received the award for Best Screenplay written by Alice Rohrwacher. Her parable evokes the classic Italian cinema of early Fellini and late Pasolini. Lazzaro remains a mystery, a strange, naive holy man who seems alien to the world because he acts as if everything is trustworthy and everyone is well-meaning. There‘s a vulgar hustle and bustle and mental sluggishness surrounding Lazzaro. Those who can, exploit others, every exploitation is accepted and passed on in every relationship and to the world. Lazzaro‘s naively innocent perspective is a gimmick to show just the opposite. Whether Rohrwacher‘s film is political or moral, whether it seems simple or impermeable is also a question of personal perspective.

Tom Dorow

Translation: Elinor Lewy


Original title: Lazzaro
Italien/ Schweiz/ Frankreich/ Deutschland 2018, 130 min
Language: Italian
Genre: Drama
Director: Alice Rohrwacher
Author: Alice Rohrwacher
DOP: Hélène Louvart
Montage: Nelly Quettier
Distributor: Piffl Medien
Cast: Nicoletta Braschi, Adriano Tardiolo, Alba Rohrwacher, Sergi Lopez
FSK: 12
Release: 13.09.2018




  • OV Original version
  • OmU Original with German subtitles
  • OmeU Original with English subtitles

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