Paolo Sorrentino’s ‘The Hand of God’ shaped by traumatic childhood event

Italian film director Paolo Sorrentino’s film ‘The Hand of God’ focuses on his very own childhood experiences and how he wanted to retell the story today.

The film tells the story of Sorrentino’s alter-ego, Fabietto, and his unassuming and vibrant family in a coming of age story that comes across as a pleasant watch until tragedy strikes. It gives the audience a glimpse into his life as an adolescent growing up in Naples in the 80s.

Speaking to NPR’s Sylvia Poggioli about the film, Sorrentino stated: “In the past, I made films on issues and subjects that I was not familiar with, and therefore, my camera was looking for things. It was on a search trip. Here, I had to do with subject matter that I’m very close to and very familiar with, so my posture was to just stand still and let the actors do their job.”

The Maradona effect

A significant fixture of the film is the football star, the late Diego Maradona, who in the 80s had joined Napoli and captured the hearts and minds of its fans as he was revered as a god for his magnificent skill. Even Sorrentino claims that Maradona’s style of play, which was an art in itself, is what inspired him to become a filmmaker.

The second half of the film shows Fabietto heading out to watch Maradona play, only to return home later and find out that both his parents had passed away due to a carbon monoxide leak. He realizes that Maradona is the reason he’s still alive, but he’s also stricken with grief, driven mad by the loss that he has to accept.

It is his desire to escape the pain of reality that inspires him to make movies. A means by which he can create alternate realities of his own where he can tell his own stories showcasing Sorrentino’s own journey towards becoming a filmmaker.

Where does the phrase ‘Hand of God’ come from?

In fact, it was the aforementioned Maradona who made the phrase popular. It has been used to refer to his goal in the 1986 World Cup against England which was missed by the referees, and no VAR (Video Assistant Referee) existed at the time. Argentina won the match 2-1.

The Hand of God will be available for streaming on Netflix from 15 December and is Italy’s official entry for the Best International Feature film category at the 94th Annual Academy Awards.

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