Original version with subtitles
However, his taste for going ‘against’, for self-depreciation, for presenting himself for that which he is not only fully matures after making La dolce vita. They are years in which anger and resentment accrue in society at a global level, and Marcello, in his own small way, starts a revolution with the means at his disposal. He rebels against the star system, which wants to insert his career into a big game of very narrow rules; and he refuses to be typecast. Not so much to surprise the public, as to enjoy himself. While in the US he is proclaimed to be the hottest of the ‘Latin lovers’, in Il bell’Antonio he plays an impotent man.
Tullio Kezich, Ritratto di un attore, in I Divi, Laterza, Bari 1996
Vitaliano Brancati’s Il bell’Antonio was first published in 1949 (the same year it is serialized in “Il Mondo”); it is set during fascism and tells the story of an impotent university student from Catania. Screenwriters Gino Visentini and Pier Paolo Pasolini opted for changing its temporal setting to the present […]. The idea of moving the events from fascism to today is not unfaithful to the novel’s spirit. The criticism of ‘gallismo’ (machism) – which Brancati had dealt with in an earlier book, Don Giovanni in Sicilia – remains intact; while the fascist standardizing orthodoxy is flawlessly reflected in the nebulous veil of a south that is atavistic and simultaneously driven by ‘modern’ pressures of social climbing and power. […] Antonio, a phantasmatic figure who predictably frightens those around him, does not rebel against the status quo; he makes the land tremble but only indirectly and ends up laying himself down in it, experiencing what others wanted him to experience. Bolognini depicts Antonio’s slow and gradual descent towards conforming to the mindset of Catania (in other words, the dictates of the Holy Roman Church, the culture of power and of the state) with gentle tracking shots up until the final devastating scene of the main character motionless on the street watching his recently remarried ex-wife go off in a car. From that moment on, the director literally steps down with Antonio in a topographical and moral descent: Mastroianni’s walk down the street, seemingly penetrating the heart of the city, […] stands for not only a moving away from the recent past but especially of a re-integration, his own obviously, in a sphere of normality. […] And Armando Nannuzzi’s photography rich with chiaroscuro rests on Mastroianni’s whiteness, albeit shadowy, as if revealing the spots of a growing and increasingly cancer: up until his final reflection in a mirror where there is no more white, and the deep blackness becomes transparency.
Alberto Pezzotta, Pier Maria Bocchi, Mauro Bolognini, Il Castoro, Milano, 2008
Cast and Credits
Sog.: dal romanzo omonimo di Vitaliano Brancati. Scen.: Pier Paolo Pasolini, Gino Visentini. F.: Armando Nanuzzi. M.: Nino Baragli. Scgf.: Carlo Egidi. Mus.: Piero Piccioni. Int.: Marcello Mastroianni (Antonio Magnano), Claudia Cardinale (Barbara Puglisi), Pierre Brasseur (Alfio Magnano), Rina Morelli (Rosaria Magnano), Tomas Milian (Edoardo), Fulvia Mammi (Elena Ardizzone), Patrizia Bini (Santuzza), Anna Arena (signora Puglisi), Maria Luisa Crescenzi (Francesca), Cesarina Gheraldi (zia Giuseppina). Prod.: Alfredo Bini, Arco Film, Cino Del Duca Produzioni Cinematografiche Europee, Société Cinématographique Lyre DCP. D.: 105’. Bn.
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main actress Marina Vlady