This article reveals the explained plot and the detailed events in Paolo Sorrentino’s The Hand Of God, revealing its meaning and storyline. We recommend you to read it only after watching the movie, and not before, in order to preserve the pleasure of the first vision.
Paolo Sorrentino’s films are always extremely symbolic and The Hand Of God is no exception. In the fascinating setting of Naples in the 1980s, the director is able to show the aesthetically most beautiful side of the city and the more human and popular one, also made up of the underworld, confused family situations and private hardships. The arrival of Maradona in the city is the emotional background of a city in which no character can really find their own dimension of life, and where therefore popular myths take on greater significance.
The Hand of God, therefore, is not only the one with which Maradona’s famous goal was named, but in general represents the indecipherable way in which destiny moves in the lives of the characters. He is mentioned in a fiery way in the second part of the film, when his uncle Alfredo explains to Fabietto that he is alive for a very specific reason. “It was the hand of God”. From the point of view of Uncle Alfredo, his life was supposed to be dedicated to the celebration of Maradona in Naples. Yet, as will soon be seen, the second half of the film will completely change the way Fabietto views life.
The film is clearly divided into two parts, and the watershed is the tragic death of the parents of Fabietto and Marchino. The first part of the film shows all the faces of Naples, including the visionary one made up of popular legends, as in the opening scene with St. Januarius and the little monk. Life, in that first phase, appears carefree, and for this there is room for this total adoration that the Schisa brothers have for Maradona. The torments of real life, however, are slowly emerging. In the big quarrel between the Schisa spouses, in the arrest of a relative while the World Cup match is on the air, in the problems of Aunt Patrizia that become increasingly evident. Nonetheless, children’s lives continue to have the youthful flavor of their age.
The unexpected death of the parents changes everything. And it is evident how Fabietto transforms himself more than the others. Until he even distances himself from his older brother, who still doesn’t want to accept that he has to mature quickly and says he still wants to think about summer and friends. For Fabietto, however, it is a question of becoming an adult, and immediately. The boy is still not sure what this means, and the confrontation with the Neapolitan director Capuano is significant: Fabietto screams his need to give a dimension to his life, to say something, and Capuano challenges him to find out if he really has something to say. Through that particular encounter, Fabietto finds within himself the strength to be someone. Whatever that means.
The next day, while the city is celebrating Napoli’s victory on the italian football championship, Fabietto shows himself completely disinterested in something that until some time before would have represented the happiest moment in his life. But there is no room for happiness in Fabietto’s life, at least for the moment. The priority is to discover himself, and the mature life that awaits him. He therefore takes the train to Rome, chasing the expression of himself that comes most naturally to him at that moment. And in the end, the little monk appears in a deserted station, greets him with the whistle that his parents always used and gives him his blessing. Fabietto was not abandoned, as Capuano said. Adult life awaits him. A little earlier than what he had planned, but not so much to overwhelm him.
A true story
An important curiosity about the film: the story of Fabietto and the sudden death of his parents when he was 16 is the real one of the director Paolo Sorrentino himself: the Neapolitan director’s parents died at that age, due to a gas leak in their new holiday home. The director should have been with them, but just that weekend, for the first time in his life, his father had granted him permission to go to the stadium alone, to watch the Napoli match. Only for this fateful event Sorrentino survived the death of his parents.