Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Seven Beauties (1975)

The original Italian title is Pasqualino Settebellezze or Pasqualino Seven Beauties. The central character, Pasqualino Frafuso, is called Pasqualino Seven Beauties, because, as he tells his friend Francesco, "I'm ugly, but in spite of my looks I appealed to women. People would say: it's unbelievable; he's repulsive, he must have the Seven Beauties."

Giancarlo Giannini is very good as Pasqualino, although I wasn't happy with this movie's editing. I just read at IMDb that the ratio of film shot to film used in the final cut was 50 to 1, so now I understand and that I hoped the movie was longer. From one scene to the next is not really clear, like in the mental asylum, we see him raping a patient bound on a bed, then jump to the next scene when he is sprayed with water, then put in to a straitjacket. Only after a while, I grasped the meaning that he has been caught.

Pasqualino is the only son in the family, but he doesn't work like his sisters. The family's bread winner is the eldest sister, who is unfortunately a prostitute. Pasqualino kills her pimp, who is also her lover. There is a funny scene when he is advised on how to get rid of the body. He is caught, sent to jail, and after pretending to be mad, he is moved to a mental asylum, where he commits sexual assault. The doctor agrees to let him free if he joins the army. He does join, but later abandon his post (i.e. desertion), and caught by Nazi Germans and sent to a camp. To survive, he seduces the female commandant.

It's hard to believe this story, especially the part in the German camp. The prisoners live in terror because for the Nazi soldiers, the prisoners's life is unworthy - and that killing them is like killing pests. Yet in this horror, we see Pasqualino whistles to woo the big, fat, cold commandant. "A woman is a woman, even one who is an evil person. A bit of sugar is always there," he says.

However, Seven Beauties is more a comedy than a drama, therefore it's okay if the plot is rather absurd - although there are also dramatic scenes as this is a story of survival. In the hell of the camp, where people want to die (like Pasqualino's 2 close friends), Pasqualino will do anything to live. The cinematography is wonderful and I like very much photography of the forest, where Pasqualino and Francesco hide after deserting.

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