Synopsis by Mark Deming
Noted Italian director Ermanno Olmi uses a true story from the 16th century as a parable calling for contemporary disarmament in this historical drama. Giovanni De Medici (Hristo Jivkov) was a famed military leader who was the commander of the Black Band, a company who painted their armor black in order to allow them to travel unseen at night. In 1526, De Medici was in charge of an army of mercenaries hired by the Pope to prevent Italy from falling to German troops. During a heated battle with German forces, De Medici was struck by cannon fire in his upper legs. De Medici hoped there was some way his limbs could be saved, but when gangrene began to set in, they were amputated; however, it soon became obvious that it was too late; the infection was spreading through his body. For four days, De Medici bravely fought against the painful gangrene that was ravaging his system, and he often looked back on the awful toll of his life as a warrior as he struggled through his final hours. Il Mestiere Delle Armi was shown in competition at the 2001 Cannes Film Festival.