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« Top Ten: Greatest Supporting Actors of the Decade Who Weren't Oscar Nominated| Main| "Bombshell"screens shaking up Best Actress »
Tuesday
Oct 15 2019

Love & Anarchy: Lina Wertmüller's unruly tragedy

The Governors Awards (Honorary Oscars) will be held on October 27th,亚博主页2019 with director Lina Wertmüller,actress Geena Davis,director David Lynch,and actor Wes Studi celebrated.We'll be discussing each of them before then.

by Cláudio Alves

Lina Wertmüller's films always feature great faces.They're not classically beautiful,but rather interesting to look at,like the visages sculpted by shadow in Caravaggio's paintings.InLove & Anarchy,Giancarlo Giannini is a storm of freckles,his green eyes lighthouses guiding us through the waves into his soul.Contrastingly,Mariangela Melato is a spectacle of powdered pallor,a vampiric Jean Harlow or perhaps a tarted-up marble statue,gorgeous and obscene in equal measure...

The main setting ofLove & Anarchyis also full of beauty and perversion,smelling like flowers and trash.It's a brothel in Rome during the 1930s when Mussolini was in power and fascism dominated Italian life.Melato is Salome,a biblically named prostitute whose anarchic ideals burn bright,to the point she offers shelter and guidance to an assassin that plans on shooting Il Duce.Giannini is Tunin,the wannabee murderer,a peasant who wants to avenge fallen friends and change the world.He falls for one of Salome's colleagues and his story both starts and ends with death.

When shot in close-up,these people's faces fill the screen with all their fascinating intensity,Wertmüller's muses thus transcend the usual idea of a movie star.They're not luminous creatures of glamour,they are primordial entities,like the human id personified in all its chaos and marvel.After all,in this director's films,chaos is de rigueur and nobody whispers when they can shout.Why simply look at something,when you can stare bug-eyed or seduce with half-lidded insinuations?

It's not idealized perfection this director's after and not naturalism either.Like its title suggests, Love & Anarchyis anarchic cinema,chaos turned into film,as passionate as it's disorganized.The structure of the narrative jumps between long inaction and sudden bursts of activity,the character's motivations are both mysterious and clear,often at the same time.There's blood and sex,tearful song and violent murder,there's romance and comedy too.Some might call it aimless and melodramatic,but melodrama is the best dramaturgical translation of the human soul.At least,it is when Wertmüller's sitting on the director's chair.


It's not idealized perfection this director's after and not naturalism either.Like its title suggests,Love & Anarchyis anarchic cinema,chaos turned into film,as passionate as it's disorganized.The structure of the narrative jumps between long inaction and sudden bursts of activity,the character's motivations are both mysterious and clear,often at the same time.There's blood and sex,tearful song and violent murder,there's romance and comedy too.Some might call it aimless and melodramatic,but melodrama is the best dramaturgical translation of the human soul.At least,it is when Wertmüller's sitting on the director's chair.

For a film whose story could be easily characterized as funereal,if not downright tragic,Love & Anarchyis full of life and lustful joy such is the power of melodrama.These celebratory tonalities are a form of rebellion against the forces of oppression that destroy Wertmüller's beloved characters.In the face of death,life is rebellion.In the face of fascist order,anarchy and messiness are what's needed to live rather than just survive.This is nowhere more evident than in the contrast between the close-ups of the director's muses and the carefully composed shots of the regime's architecture.

The actor's faces are chaotic humanity at its best,they overflow with loud emotion and weird cosmetic quirks.The long shots of white rectilinear buildings and carefully constructed town squares are inhuman in comparison.Love and anarchy are synonyms in Wertmüller's cinematic language and they exist in opposition to that which is inherently against humanity – the rule of dictatorial order.

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Reader Comments (6)

I saw this film a few years ago and it fucking shocked me in how incredible it is.Lina Wertmuller doesn't get enough recognition for her work.As much as there's a lot of talk about women filmmakers in recent years,her name is often the one that isn't in the conversation.I've only seen 3 of her films in this one,Seven Beauties,andSwept Away(not that fucking atrocity by Mr.Madonna) and they're some of the best films ever made in my opinion.

October 15,2019 | Unregistered Commenterthevoid99

Still no recognition for Max von Sydow.

Geena Davis,why?

October 15,2019 | Unregistered CommenterPete

An Oscarless Max von Sydow is,truly,a film world scandal,Pete.

I think LOVE & ANARCHY is Wertmüller's greatest film.It's really a better work than the better-known SEVEN BEAUTIES.Cláudio,you really did the film justice.Beautiful review.

October 15,2019 | Unregistered CommenterDaniella Isaacs

I'm so old,I remember when Lina was the only woman in history to be nominated for best director!

October 15,2019 | Unregistered CommenterMike in Canada

Geena Davis is receiving the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award,not something Max von Sydow would even be considered for.

October 15,2019 | Unregistered CommenterArlo

Von Sydow,on merit (as opposed to PC considerations,which I do respect),deserves to be given an honorary Oscar before Wes Studi,Jackie Chan,Maureen O'Hara,and Myrna Loy and yet those four got them.

October 16,2019 | Unregistered CommenterDaniella Isaacs

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