Il giorno della Civetta damiano damiani - 1968

Film Director

Damiano Damiani was born in Friuli.

Damiani studied at the Accademia di Brera in Milan, and he made his debut in 1947 with the documentary La banda d'Affari. In the 60s there were his "golden decade"; he was praised by critics and his films were box office successes.

In 1968, with The Day of the Owl, the movie I took in consideration, he started a series of movies in which social criticism, often related to the connections between politics and crime, was mixed with really interesting and touching plots.

He wanted to talk about the contemporary Italian Mafia and its involvement in politics, so he also directed one of the most famous Italian television series, La piovra, in 1984.

Movie Plot

The movie is inspired by the famous Sciascia’s novel.

On a Saturday morning at 6.30 a man was shot while catching the bus. The local police arrived in quite few minutes but everyone (from the passengers to the conductor of the bus) refused to give to them any information or details which can be considered as useful.

This pretty much represented the omertà in the movie, the Sicily during that time period, where anyone didn’t want to put their faith in front of something bigger as the Mafia.

Capitan Bellodi, who cames from Parma got assigned to the case of Salvatore Colasberna’s murder. He immediately noticed that everyone forget how to talk when Sicilians have to describe something, but everyone is able to write what happen. In this way he received tons of anonymous letters which described the man who got shot. He was a constructor which refused to pay the protection money to the local Mafia. After lots of warnings Colasberna was killed.

The murdered happened next to Rosa Nicolisi and her family’s house. After the murder her husband disappeared.

Captain Bellodi got some information that her husband said to her before disappearing from Rosa.

At the same time the boss of the little Sicilian city, Don Mariano Arena, tried to convince everyone that the murder in the reality was due to a betrayal between Colasberna’s wife and Nicolisi husband, so in this way could also be clear the abscond of Nicolisi.

Captain Bellodi didn’t believe to the love affair’s trail and he started to look for Nicolisi’s body. He hardly believed that Nicolisi was been murdered because he was considered an inconvenient witness. He got the prove of the murder, so in this way Don Mariano Arena was directly sent to the prison. Thanks to politics affairs he had, he was immediately release and he acted in a way to make Bellodi moved from Sicily to another city in Italy.

Mafia is free to act as it want once again.

Don Mariano Arena observing the new Captain.

In the end of the movie we see a scene where there is Don Mariano Arena observing the new captain with a binoculars, calling him “quaquaraquà”, because compared to Collodi, he was not as much strict as he was with Mafia, he was pretty indulgent.

The new captain for this reason it is considered by the boss a man without honor and value, compared to Bellodi.


The theme treated in all the movie is of course the Mafia and its psychological aspects.

The movie shows how omertà and the scared feelings are common between the people: or you got submitted to the Mafia or you lose your life. They don't joke, they are serious and there is a psychological aspect in which we notice that Mafia always obtains what it wants (ex: the corruption of the politics in which Don Mariano Arena is easily released).

Historical Importance

Il giorno della civetta” had an historical importance because of the Mafia theme.

It speaks about the omertà atmosphere present in Sicily and the presence of the corruption in politics, judiciary and ecclesiastic surroundings.

It was one of the first movies in which we see this theme, because it was something that people didn’t want to talk about.

The critics didn’t had a good eye on it at the beginning but then it was also distributed in the USA (1970 with the title “The day of the Owl”).

What should be remembered?

What should be remembered about this movie is that Mafia is a real problem in Italy. It is not just a stereotype we fight against, but there is the presence of the real characteristics of the idea of family, fondness, relationships and justice in Italy.

The movie is rich of information in which some are clearly exposed, some others instead are less clear. An example could be omertà, highlighted by the film director in an evocative way, exposing the idea of the Sicilian whom saw the things lap onto them.

Why International students should watch it?

I thought it was important to talk about this movie, because I see people laughing about Mafia without even realizing what it is about. I want people to inform themselves that Mafia it is not just guns and gangsters as we see in “The Godfather”, but there is a psychological effect behind it. People are scared to talk about it (omertà), they still deny the existence, because it is a problem that we still didn’t take care of. Mafia still exist and it is a problem not only present in Sicily but even in Campania, Calabria and Puglia.

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