‘The Catholic School’ Ending, Explained: Is It Based On True Events? What Happened To Donatella & Rosaria?


Directed by Stefano Mordini, “The Catholic School” (or “La Scuola Cattolica” in Italian) is based on the novel written by Edoardo Albinati, of the same name. The screenplay, written by Massimo Gaudioso, Luca Infascelli, and Stefano Mordini, takes us six months back because, in order to understand the crime and why it occurred in the first place, it is necessary to understand the sensibilities and the beliefs of the world that the narrative is based in. One look at the foundation of a hypocritical society, and you realize that it is damaged beyond repair. And who bore the consequences? Well, obviously, the females, and the downtrodden. So, let’s see what happened in Edoardo Albinati’s class of ’75 that changed the outlook of the entire nation.

Spoilers Ahead

Plot Summary: What Is The Film About?

As soon as we are taken inside the gates of St. Luigi High School, we realize that a huge conflict exists between the status quo that the Catholic school wants to maintain and the actual ground reality. It was an all-boys Catholic school where violence was the order of the day, as said by the narrator, Edoardo Albinati, who was also a student there. Romoli had been bullied by some of the seniors, but nobody was ready to speak about anything. They were called into the headmaster’s chambers one by one, but nobody uttered a single word. But when Marco D’Avenia went and saw the state of the poor boy, he had some sympathy. He told the headmaster that Jervi, Gianni Guido, and a few others were involved in the activity. Gianni’s father comes to meet the headmaster, and exactly at that moment, you realize where the real problem lies. Raffaele Guido was an influential man, and the school received a lot of donations from him. He abruptly cut the headmaster in between, as if telling him that he didn’t want to waste his precious time listening to the moral lectures of the pseudo priest. And the wishes of the powerful and influential prevailed. The school mocked the very foundation of justice and gave Romoli a pair of new spectacles. Nothing happened to those who bullied him. Gianni was beaten by his father, but that had little or no impact on the boy, who went to a party later in the evening. The law of the land was very simple: either you bully and dominate people, or you are subdued and live a life in fear. 

Gioacchino Rummo, another student in the catholic school, belonged to a religious family. He was probably the only one who was a believer among all those who claimed to possess high morals and values. Gioacchino doesn’t understand how the perpetrators were left unpunished. His father tells him that evil should be understood and then forgiven. He says that a sinful act should never be retaliated with more vengeance because, apparently it was not the lord’s way. As bizarre as it sounds, the father expected his kids to believe in the theory. Later that evening, Angelo, Gian Petro, Gianni, and others who bullied the junior meet and discuss how nobody said a word to them, and they could get away with it very easily. It comes out in their conversation that they all belonged to rich and influential families who donated huge sums of money to the school. A man comes and tells Angelo that Andrea has been released from jail. At this moment, we do not know who he was, and we assume that he was a delinquent serving a sentence for a crime. Angelo meets his brother, Salvatore, in the night and gives him a lesson in brotherhood. He says that he can never be a snitch. Angelo had a menacing presence, and his brother was scared of him. Angelo was the kind of man who was capable of going to any extent in order to get what he desired. Angelo realized that his brother was a homosexual. He was not ready to accept that fact. How can the brother of a person who is soaked in toxic masculinity, who wants to be in charge, who wants to have his way even if it requires application of force, who takes pleasure in oppressing others, could be so feeble and sissy? Obviously, homosexuality was seen as a disease, and homosexuals were seen as objects to be scorned at. D’Avenia showed traits of being masochistic. He was bludgeoned by Jervi and others, and he seemed to derive pleasure from the pain inflicted upon him. 

Edoardo, on the other hand, found himself in a state of conflict. He confessed in front of the father that he often told lies just to blend in. He validates each and every behavior under peer pressure, but in the end, he feels void from the inside. He believes that if he shows his real side, it won’t be accepted by others. He was stuck in a dilemma where he didn’t understand how to not be a part of the debauchery and maintain his separate set of ideologies. Edoardo’s best friend was a boy named Alessandro Arbus, who was nothing less than a genius. He had a brilliant academic career and didn’t accept anything blindly, not even faith. He was planning to leave the school as he felt that he was not learning anything there. Arbus’ family was very unique too. His sister Leda, with whom Edoardo had been infatuated for quite some time, was a part of a far-right extremists’ group. Arbus’ father was always more interested in his students than in his own children. Later it was revealed that he was a homosexual, though the family knew about it from before. 

Stefano Jervi was another student who had made a very distinctive image for himself. He looked more mature, more confident and more calm than the others. One glance at him, and you would know that he was under control. Jervi shared an intimate relationship with one of his colleagues’ mothers. Picchiatello Martirolo (Pik)was the son of a famous actress named Coralla Martirolo. Jervi often visited her house when Picchiatello wasn’t there. Pik was probably autistic. He found out about the affair of her mother and felt distraught, though he knew that there was nothing he could change about it. 

If one keenly listens to the conversations that the parents had with their children and what the teachers taught in the classes, one will get to know that something was clearly not right with their beliefs. While asking his students to observe a painting in which Christ was being beaten by people, a teacher says that the persecutors are victims too, because those who hurt others, hurt themselves too. The students were a bit taken aback because they themselves had never heard such a twisted interpretation of the Bible. Raffaele Guido, the father of Gianni, believed that persuasion, threat, and punishment were the three most important pillars of teaching. He often told his son that as a man, he could not be so emotional. He took it as a vice and told him to be cold-blooded. Because of the kind of upbringing the boys had, it was just a matter of time before their recklessness turned into lawlessness and resulted in devastating consequences. 

‘The Catholic School’ Ending Explained: What Happened To Donatella And Rosaria?

Gian Pietro had given a lift to two unknown girls named Donatella Colasanti and Nadia. Gian told them that his name was Carlo. He did that because he saw them as probable targets upon whom the boys would prey upon later. His intentions are clearly established when he meets the rest of the gang. He told Angelo that the girls stayed in Montagnola. By their reaction, you come to know that it was not a very posh locality, and maybe the elites didn’t like staying there either. But that didn’t stop Angelo from asking Gian to arrange for a meetup. Gian did the needful but didn’t want to be associated with whatever they were planning to do. Instead of Nadia, another girl named Rosaria came this time. The girls were attracted by the extravagance and opulence of these boys. They were attracted to the fancy cars they drove and the huge mansions they lived in. There is a stereotype in our society that a privileged person never indulges in any activity that is prohibited by the law. Often it is seen that we create a good perception about anyone who is carrying himself properly, looks decent and comes from a well to do family, even if we do not know anything about him or his past.

Donatella, too, judged the book by its cover and didn’t know what she was signing into. Angelo and Gianni took Rosaria and Donatella to a mansion, which they said belonged to Carlo. The girls couldn’t believe their eyes. They had never seen such a beautiful bungalow in their whole lives. This scene is also indicative of the class conflict that existed in Italy in the 1970s. There were a lot of economic antagonists who enacted to bridge the gap, but they still had a long way to go. Rosaria said that she would like to go back home as it was getting late, but Angelo and Gianni had other plans. They pointed a gun at the girls and confined them in the bathroom. To the horror of the girls, they realized what the real plan of the boys was. They told the girls that they belonged to the Marsigliesi gang. They sexually abused the girls, and soon Andrea Ghira, who was recently released from jail, joined them. The girls were abused, beaten, and molested to the point that one of them couldn’t survive the pain and violence inflicted on her. The boys killed Rosaria by drowning her in the bathtub, and Donatella could hear the muffled voice of her friend, crying for help and requesting the perpetrators to have some mercy on her. She never imagined in her lifetime that she would be subjected to something like this. She begged the boys, but they kept on drugging and molesting her. Donatella pretended to be dead, and the boys prepared to dispose of both the bodies. Angelo and Gianni left both the bodies in the trunk of their car, thinking that they would dispose of them later in the night. Call it fate, luck, or sheer fortune, somebody heard Donatella’s call for help and informed the police. Donatella survived, and Andrea, Angelo, and Gianni were caught by the police.

Is ‘The Catholic School’ Based On True Events?

Unfortunately, yes, “The Catholic School” is based on true events that happened in the year 1975. The incident came to be known as the Circeo Massacre, and as put by Edoardo Albinati himself, it changed everything henceforth. According to the horrendous laws that prevailed in the country during that time, rape was not considered a crime against a person. It was considered to be a crime against public morality. So basically, it was seen as an act that hurt the sentiments of society but not as an act that destroyed a person’s life and made her suffer from the trauma. The meaning of this is that the legal justice system didn’t have strong deterrent measures against those who committed rape as it has today. A girl had died, and society just considered it to be an immoral act, and nothing more. The young boys were more scared to speak against religion than to outrage the modesty of a woman. It took the Italian government approximately 20 more years to recognize that rape was a crime against a person too. Andrea, Angelo, and Gianni were sentenced to life. Andrea died in 1994 when he was escaping arrest. Till that time, he lived like a fugitive on the run. Angelo Izzo was released in the year 2005 for apparently good conduct, but he mocked the legal machinery of the country by committing two more murders as soon as he was released. 

Gianni Guido was released in 2009 and has been a free citizen of the country since then. Often, the puppet show in a democracy is orchestrated by the rich and powerful. Donatella Colasanti died in 2005 at the age of 47. What was the fault of the innocent girls? Was it their fault that they were too naive to take a leap of faith and believe in the bona fide intentions of the boys? Was it their fault to be born in a country that didn’t understand the consequences of going through a traumatizing experience and what it did to a person? Or maybe it was their fault to be born as girls in a male-dominated society. Edoardo Albinati says in his novel, “The Catholic School,” that being born a boy is like an incurable disease. The author recounts that after many years, since the Circeo Massacre, he met Gioacchino Rummo, who had become a psychiatrist. He found that there was something wrong with each and every fragment of society. Everybody, especially the boys, was suffering from some kind of mental disorder. You could see it in the eyes of Angelo, that incessant need to be in control and how he believed that he was entitled to do that. Not even once did the boys flinch when they were torturing the two girls. It said a lot about their mental state. The families were dysfunctional, and the individuals that were brought up in these families also grew up to be obnoxious in some or the other way. A lot of things that you know were blatantly not right were accepted in a very casual manner. The catholic school, the ardent devotees, and the so-called pious people were responsible for this kind of outcome. According to the teachings of the church, one was forced to not feel a certain way, but nonetheless, everybody indulged in everything that was prohibited by religion. The outcome was: Gays and homosexuals were scorned, women were objectified, males were considered superior to everybody else, and the children were molded in a fashion that unanimously validated the oppressive and unjust behavior. The Circeo Massacre was an example of the hypocrisy that exists in our society, the crumbling man-made systems and how they are molded according to the convenience of the few who exercise control.

 “The Catholic School” is a 2022 Drama Thriller film directed by Stefano Mordini.

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Sushrut Gopesh
Sushrut Gopesh
I came to Mumbai to bring characters to life. I like to dwell in the cinematic world and ponder over philosophical thoughts. I believe in the kind of cinema that not necessarily makes you laugh or cry but moves something inside you.

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