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Film / I'm Not Scared

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There's something alive down there...

Io non ho paura (I'm Not Scared) is an Italian film directed by Gabriele Salvatores, based on the novel by Niccolò Ammaniti. The story is set during Italy's anni di piombonote , a turbulent period marked by terrorism and kidnapping in the 1970s. One day in the peaceful rural village of Acqua Traverse, Michele Amitrano is out playing with his friends in the cornfields, when he discovers a hole in the ground near an abandoned house. When he investigates, he finds what appears to be a human foot. Although scared, Michele investigates further and finds a young boy confined in the hole, who is very much alive. Michele forms a bond with the mysterious boy, but quickly discovers that not all is well in Acqua Traverse, and Michele's own parents may have some connection to the boy in the hole.

I'm Not Scared contains examples of:

  • Ambiguously Gay: Felice Natale. He dances in a flamboyant manner while listening to the radio, when he thinks no one is watching. He also reacts violently when Sergio calls him a "faggot".
  • Arcadia: Deconstructed. Although the countryside surrounding the village is beautiful to say the least, it's the quiet life in the country that gave the villagers the motivation to kidnap a rich heir.
  • Big Bad: Sergio Materia.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Michele, through no small effort, manages to save Filippo, and due to the helicopters appearing just in the nick of time it's clear that he'll stay saved and that Sergio will go to jail. However, though Pino refuses to be ordered around by him anymore, that doesn't change anything that's already happened. The adults of Acqua Traverse, Pino included, will likely all join Sergio in prison as accomplices to Filippo's kidnapping, leaving the children quite possibly with no one to look after them outside of an orphanage. However, in addition to simply being the right thing to do, Michele's choice also saves them from possibly falling into the same choices as their parents, as well as removing them from the town where abuses were clearly so common. Unfortunate and unfair for the children though it may be at first, in saving Filippo Michele saved them all in the long run.
  • Book Ends: Drawing matches. Pino explains it to Michele after he returns home, and Sergio forces him to take part in one when it's time to execute Filippo.
  • Broken Pedestal: Michele clearly looks up to his father, Pino. Not so much when he realises that he's involved in a kidnapping.
  • Cat Scare: As Michele is sneaking around at night, on his way to rescue Filippo, he walks past a local farmer's house. While he avoids being discovered by the farmer and his dog, he is startled by the loud and sudden squealing of the farmer's pigs, trapped in their pen.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The distinctly-designed pot that Michele finds in the country house where the hole is located. As it turns out, his family owns one just like it. As though it were part of a set...
  • Day Hurts Dark-Adjusted Eyes: For Filippo after Michele removes his blindfold.
  • Foreshadowing: During an early scene, Pino makes his two children draw straws telling them it's how soldiers decide who goes on dangerous missions. Pino draws the short straw and has to go put out the trash. Pino suggests this method again later in the movie, in order to decide who is going to kill Filippo. Guess who draws the short straw?
  • Jump Scare: When Filippo first steps out of the gloom of the hole.
    • Also, when Michele sees Filippo's foot at the beginning.
  • Kids Are Cruel: Or at least Skull Natale is, anyway. And none of the kids other than Michele seem to be able to stand up to him.
  • Offing the Offspring: Narrowly averted after Pino accidentally shoots Michele.
  • Pet the Dog: Downplayed in the case of Felice Natale, who is a nasty, unrepentant thug and brutally mistreats both Michele and Filippo and violently restrains Anna when she lashes out at him upon hearing how he struck her son. But, towards the end of the film, he breaks down when Sergio orders him to murder Filippo. It seems that, in the end, he wouldn't kill a child.
  • The Reveal: The news report that reveals the captive boy in the hole's identity. He's Filippo Carducci, the son of a rich, Milanese family, who was kidnapped by the villagers of Acqua Traverse.
  • Staggered Zoom: Used when Michele spots a human foot in the hole beneath the abandoned house. Accompanied also by a Scare Chord.
  • Town with a Dark Secret: Acqua Traverse seems like an idyllic Italian village, until you learn about the rich kid that the villagers are holding for ransom.
  • Wide-Eyed Idealist: Michele, even as he becomes aware of the evils around him.
  • Would Hurt a Child: The villagers, especially Sergio.