Having experienced a long period of immense popularity due to the success of “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” and the complete saga of “Back to the Future”, in 1992 Robert Zemeckis delivers to cinemas “Death makes you beautiful”. It’s a black comedy written by Martin Donovan and David Koepp, a decent film, but nothing to do with the previous ones that marked an era.
The screenwriters, unfortunately for the umpteenth time in the history of cinema, they pull out of the dust the hackneyed canvas of the handsome male (Bruce Willis) disputed by two women (Goldie Hawn and Meryl Streep, both very good, by the way) so different from each other as to be practically… the same. During the 100 rather boring minutes of the film, the viewer assists helplessly sickening tussle of the female duo (with attached complete list of all the possible and imaginable atrocities produced by the twisted human knowledge) which obviously benefit from alternating fortunes in the frantic attempt to outdo each other, and by default see the new harpies, Hawn-Streep, cross seamlessly, blatantly and immorally any obstacle that stands in the way of achieving their goal; however, and this is the true “coupe de theatre” of Zemeckis’ film, is no longer the original one represented by the conquest of the metaphorical scalp of the disputed “non-alpha male” (poor Bruce Willis who plays, not surprisingly, a plastic surgeon) but instead it has been transformed and has become an attempt to definitively defeat the very human nightmare of growing old and, at the end of the long battle, of dying. And for this reason, to remain “forever” attractive, fascinating and… immortal, our negative heroines do not scruple to take the decisive step towards the point of no return and finally accept, from the hands of the witch on duty… the elixir of life.
But also the men…
And who more than Achilles, the most famous of both Greek and Trojan heroes sung by Homer, embodies, par excellence, the figure of the invincible warrior since mother literature was born? Son of Peleus and Thetis, in a vain attempt to make him immortal, he is immersed by his mother in the Styx. According to legend, he is entrusted to the centaur Chiron who teaches him everything there is to know in order to be unsurpassed in the most varied and singular knowledge, but also to be endowed with an almost animal ferocity (the famous baleful wrath) which makes him unbeatable in fights; to the point that at the mere appearance of his armor the Trojan warriors flee in terror.
In fact we know almost everything about him, even that he is beautiful and therefore it is certainly not a pure coincidence that the Hollywood handsome was chosen to play the role of “Quickfooted Achilles” in the most recent film version (Troy by Wolfgang Petersen). excellence: Brad Pitt! Yet this character born from the pen of Homer, beautiful, highly cultured, contemptuous of danger … is still disliked by most. We could say with extreme sincerity that the king of the Myrmidons is almost the symbol of that type of people who do not love but fear each other; the ones we respect only because they instill physical fear in us!
Let us confess it serenely: if we were in a stage, in the duel between him and Hector, who is just his opposite, generous and altruistic, strong even in the weaknesses of love, which he tenderly nurtures towards his son and his sweet and devoted Andromache, we would all, or almost all, root for the Trojan hero. Because he is “human”! To beat Achilles, on the other hand, something supernatural is needed and therefore the arrow shot by Paris must be guided by the powers of a god, like in a video game, because it must hit the only vulnerable point of the Greek hero.
His death however, incredibly, surprises us and still comes unexpected; and only in that moment, when he dies, do we “humanly” feel pity for a warrior who appears defeated but not conquered. Achilles, at this point, even becomes sympathetic to us and we are saddened by his end, to the point of forgetting or even “wiping out” his past and his gruesome atrocities, such as having killed all seven brothers of the affectionate Andromache or having dragged and hacked the body of her fierce adversary.
Sinisa’s death catches me unprepared. It’s strange but that’s how it is. Yet I knew, since the onset of her long battle against leukemia, and I was also aware of her strong testimonies, reported by practically all the printed paper and television; no, they hadn’t slipped away from me. I am equally struck, but only up to a certain point, by the transversal expressions of condolence that come from everywhere. Friends, colleagues, opponents, but also journalists and even a large part of the political world (and of the latter, all too easily, we understand the rationale). And even that sounds at least strange. Because this champion (definitely a great champion, but not a top player) has often lined up in decisive, strong positions that we don’t dispute, but certainly not shared by all without distinction.
To summarily outline the complexity and angularity of the character, I quote “didactically” from Wikipedia:
“dedicated (Mihajlovic) an obituary to the his friend Zeliko Raznatovic (who was also head of the Red Star ultras, the team in which Mihajlović played), notorious Serbian criminal accused of crimes against humanity. Of Ratko Mladic general accused of genocide he said: “Mladić? A great warrior who fights for his people”.
He said of the government of Slobodan Milosevic: «We have always quarreled among ourselves, but we are all Serbs. And I prefer to fight for my compatriot and defend him against an external aggressor. I know about the crimes attributed to Milošević, but the moment Serbia is attacked, I defend my people and whoever represents them.”.
As a footballer, on November 7, 2003, he was disqualified for 8 days and sentenced to pay 12,300 euro fine from UEFA for having kicked and spat at the Romanian Adrian Mutu, with the aggravating circumstance of recidivism, in the Lazio-Chelsea of the Champions League.CopyAMP code
During the Lazio-Arsenal match on October 17, 2000, insulted the French footballer of Senegalese origin Patrick Vieira; he later stated that he did not regret it, but that he did not want to be called a racist. PFor this fact, DIGOS presented a complaint to the Rome prosecutor’s office.
On 28 May 2012, as coach of Serbia, excluded Adem Ljajic from the national team for choosing not to sing the Serbian national anthem by the footballer, of Bosniak ethnicity and Muslim religion.
On 3 January 2018, at the end of the Coppa Italia match lost by Torino against Juventus, he was insulted with racist epithets by the deputy Massimo Corsaro, through a message posted on Twitter; Mihajlović expressed his intention to sue the honorable Milanese.
At the end of the same competition he was involved in an argument with police officers who – according to Mihajlović – directed racist insults towards him”.
In short, from these facts reported and known by all, it can be stated, with little doubt of being denied, that during his intense life Mihajlovic consciously chose to line up on clear-cut and sharp positions, that although they are not judged by us, distant and not immersed in that reality (who are we to allow ourselves to do that?), they are objectively to be considered, sometimes just as certainly, lacerating and even capable of splitting public opinion in two.
Yet the unanimous closeness to his suffering first and to the death that seized him later, we repeat, was transversal!
All right, in Sinisa’s pain there has never been pietism, but a lot, a lot “Christian piety”; the profound and true one (perhaps better “veristic” like the one narrated by Verga in Rosso Malpelo and in the Malavoglia) which certainly made us all sharers in suffering, however we found ourselves, more or less all, close to this strong and true man .
But in hindsight, there is probably another aspect to consider…
The love of life or… the fear of death?
A few hours ago they announced that Pelè died and the world immediately moves to remember his greatness; but, strangely and just as surely, the news of the football king’s death didn’t get as emotional as that of Mihajlovic; and we notice it and it makes us even more strange since Sinisa discounted, against her, una football stature not even remotely comparable to that of “Black Pearl”.
Certainly for O’Rey the decades-long distance from the spotlight, the octogenarian age, the course and the length of the disease itself have given us a “normal” vision of the outcome, and have also had a significant influence in making the his death. And it didn’t scare us! Because this is what it is about, nothing more than, quite simply, the fear of death that every human being fears and experiences.
And then the beauty, the charm, the desire to be “always desired” by women (and men) and not accepting in any way the physiological degradation of one’s body and even, to save them (beauty, charm …), we Goldie Hawn, we Meryl Streep, we… we would even be willing to make a pact with the devil if he gave us the elixir of life. Because by now it’s clear and we’ve all realized it without distinction, both men and women: the body that ‘makes ugly and turns for the worse first gives us the perception and then the certainty that life, little by little, is moving away from we.
And also the champion, whether his name is Sinisa, Stefano or… “the one” whom we, from the outside, witness and adore and who we look trembling like a “pagan god who came down to earth to show miracles”, even “He”, if he is attacked by a devastating disease, is, so to speak, “revealed” to us for what he is and has always been… vulnerable like all of us. And only now do we realize and accept that he looks very, very much like the Homeric Achilles struck by the dart that will take his life. And precisely the tragedy of “our” hero makes him close and human to us. At the same time, his suffering and human death, which we would never have imagined nor even considered could touch or hit “A God” in which we identified ourselves (and which, let’s face it cruelly, vice versa we would care “just a bat” )… that torment that we are called to take note of, in that precise instant, takes away all forms of courage and at the same time all the unjustifiable certainties we had had up to that moment (“He” will win the battle against “Evil” because “He” is special, “He” will surely triumph and, if “He” has made it… should it happen to me too… I will too!!!).
That deadly outcome literally dismays us, separates us from rationality, it even makes us forget that every year in Italy, 180,000 people die of cancer, in general disinterest and it is as if, I repeat, year after year, Modena or Taranto, Reggio Calabria or Perugia disappear… a terrible fact.
And therefore we have no desire to take this acknowledgment because, very simply, it strips us bare, and shows what we actually are and will always be: tied to life and certainly also a little cowardly in the face of small or immense difficulties; human and vulnerable and I even confess that I wouldn’t mind accepting it and therefore I want to keep trying to be a little sad and a little cheerful, ironic and sometimes sarcastic, comical, even ridiculous and, if it’s possible, all these things together for have no regrets.