|Dramma della gelosia. Please click to enlarge.|
C: Marcello Mastroiani (Oreste Nardi), Monica Vitti (Adelaide Ciafrocchi), Giancarlo Giannini (Nello Serafini), Manolo Zarzo / Manuel Zarzo (Ugo, dubbed in Italian), Marisa Merlini (Silvana Ciafrocchi), Hércules Cortés (Ambleto Di Meo), Fernando Sánchez Polack (District Head of the Communist Party), Gioia Desideri (Adelaide's friend), Josefina Serratosa (Antonia, Oreste's wife), Juan Diego (Antonia's son, dubbed in Italian), Bruno Scipioni (pizza maker), Giuseppe Maffioli (lawyer), Paola Natale (flower seller), Brizio Montinaro (restaurant night guard).
Helsinki premiere 12.2.1971 Ritz, released by Warner Bros. with Finnish / Swedish subtitles – VET 79021 – K16 – originally 3130 m – Finland: 2940 m / 107 min
A vintage KAVI print deposited by Warner Bros. viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki (Ettore Scola in memoriam), 29 May 2016
Dramma della gelosia still belongs to Ettore Scola's early period as a film director shortly before his serious breakthrough with films such as Trevico-Torino and C'eravamo tanto amati.
For the first time Scola got to direct Marcello Mastroianni, Monica Vitti, and Giancarlo Giannini. Mastroianni would become one of his key stars, appearing in six of Scola's feature films. For Giannini this was one of his first leading roles, shortly before his breakthrough in Lina Wertmüller's international success films.
In farces like this Monica Vitti was as different as possible from her characters in Michelangelo Antonioni's modern masterpieces of space age alienation. She is wild and free, and full of vitality, most prominently in funny fairground and dance scenes, but also tragic in her unfortunate choices of male partners.
Especially important Dramma della gelosia was for Mastroianni who all his life was determined to demolish his international image of the "Latin Lover" immortalized by La dolce vita. (That film was profoundly satirical yet generally misunderstood as a celebration of the way of life it was meant to satirize). Mastroianni embraced films where he could play impotents, gays, and losers.
In Dramma della gelosia Mastroianni is Oreste, a proletarian and a Communist who is married to a harridan and has lost his appetite for life before he meets Adelaide, Monica Vitti's character. It is not the passive Oreste who takes the initiative in the relationship; it is Adelaide who notices Oreste and comes to the front.
The subject-matter and the narrative arch of the commedia all'italiana is indistinguishable from tragedy. Dramma della gelosia is about marginalization, loneliness, poverty, garbage, unhappiness in love, suicide, madness, and violence in relationships. Both Oreste and his wife beat Adelaide so badly that she is hospitalized, and in the final row Adelaide is stabbed (accidentally) to death.
It is a unique quality of the commedia all'italiana that a film can be simultaneously tender and passionate and brutally honest about violence and abuse. There is a running gag about Adelaide's perpetual visits to the hospital, including the final one when she is a corpse on the stretcher. The limits of comedy are stretched to the utmost.
The address of the movie is special. It is structured as an enacted police investigation which starts with a return to the scene of the homicide. The testimonies are dramatized, and there is no strict distinction between a testimony and a performance of the actual event. In the middle of the action the characters may address us directly or react to a different level of the narrative. Even Adelaide gives her comments from beyond the grave.
There is a documentary dimension in the account of the life in Rome, and Oreste's work as a bricklayer, Nello's as a pizza baker, Adelaide's as a flower seller, and Ambleto's as a big meat merchant. The Festival dell'Unità has a central role in the story; soon Scola would make a documentary film on it. We witness a huge demonstration in which both Oreste and Nello are badly beaten by the police. We also witness how the police disguises itself and infiltrates into the demonstration. Politics does not help the loverlorn Oreste. "I am alone amongst comrades".
Dramma della gelosia is a study in unhappy love, in destructive love. The love between Oreste and Adelaide is passionate and true; leaving Adelaide would be for Oreste "like leaving myself". After Adelaide has met Nello at the pizzeria Oreste senses that things change. "It is like the autumn sun: it shines but does not warm". There is an attempt of a trio relationship like in Design for Living or Jules et Jim. Nello does not believe in owning another person, but Oreste is the madly jealous one. There is a comic tentative erotic trio arrangement at a hotel bed, but it leads to nothing.
A memorable moment of meta-film is a café scene where American tourists observe that Italians were happier when they were poorer. "Yes, we are now rolling in prosperity, but we are still the happy Italians", retorts Oreste, just before a scene of jealous violence breaks out.
For various reasons Dramma della gelosia does not work quite so well. Armando Trovaioli's music is jarring, and there is too much of it. The approach of the film is unique and difficult, but it feels somewhat out of tune. Outwardly, Mastroianni, Vitti, and Giannini are great, but there is something unconvincing about the inner truth of their proletarian characters. Individually, they are brilliant, but I do not quite believe in this desperate love affair of theirs.
There is a lot of dialogue, and I suspect that the Finnish and Swedish translations have been conducted on the basis of an American dialogue list. (For instance festa del lavoro had been translated from the American expression Labor Day, and the translator has missed the Finnish vappu = First of May). I would like to see this film again with a really good translation based directly on the original screenplay by Age & Scarpelli & Scola.
The print is complete with rain in changeovers. According to sources this as a Technicolor film but this print looks like Eastmancolour with the colour slightly turning to red.
OUR PROGRAM NOTE BASED ON THE PRODUCTION NOTES AND MATILDE HOCHKOFLER: