Chronicle of a Death Foretold

In this 1987 adaptation of Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s novella Italian director Francesco Rosi melds his own sensibilities and narrative concerns with those of the writer. To a surprising extent, Rosi succeeds in evoking the tropical drowsiness and colonial splendors of the riverfront town where the story of a murder unfolds through a series of well-timed flashbacks. The narrator, a middle-aged doctor (Gian Maria Volonte, in a properly understated performance), returns to pore over the testimony of those who witnessed the killing of his childhood friend, the spoiled son of a merchant family, 25 years before. What he discovers from the various accounts of the events leading up to Santiago’s death says a lot about the motives and emotions of the peripheral figures. The “objective” reconstruction of a crime–a chief preoccupation in Rosi’s oeuvre–is presented as an ultimately futile mission, a process corrupted by the eyewitnesses’ sympathies and cultural prejudices. The cinematography–always a high point of Rosi films–is stunning, courtesy of Pasqualino De Santis. Facets Multimedia Center, 1517 W. Fullerton, Monday, June 30, 9:00, 773-281-4114. –Ted Shen

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): film still.