Several weeks ago, it was announced that Lina Wertmüller would receive an Honorary Academy Award for her career, well-deserved recognition for a path studded with multiple successes. In 1976, she was the first woman to be nominated for the Best Director Academy Award for her work on Seven Beauties, for which she also wrote the original screenplay and which was also a candidate for Best Film in a Foreign Language. Throughout her long filmography, the director has often chosen to give a voice to the disregarded, to those whose defects have authenticity and whose weaknesses strength, who often face or are victims of life’s challenges and whose environments are intrinsic to their stories.
When she focused on the youth of the Southern provinces, for whom the siesta is a lifestyle, in her debut film, The Lizards (1963), she chose several municipalities in central Apulia, including Minervino Murge and Spinazzola, with a few excursions to Andria and her hometown, Palazzo San Gervasio, in the province of Potenza.
Seven Beauties (1975), interpreted by a majestic Giancarlo Giannini, instead overflows with the essence of Naples, in its iconic characters who make their way on their own, one way or another, navigating the difficult times pre and post WWII, as guappi or newly-minted prostitutes. Several years later, Naples was again her chosen setting for Camorra (A Story of Streets, Women and Crime) (1986) with focused on the problem of drugs among children with a meaningful ending that featured a march of women from the Quartieri Spagnoli. The lighter fare of the jealousy drama Saturday, Sunday and Monday (1990), based on a comedy by Eduardo De Filippo, that most representative of all Neapolitans, could only have been set in the Parthenopean city.
A man is murdered in Sicily during the Fascist era: everyone knows who did it but no one is talking and the widow, Sofia Loren, is inconsolable. The key scenes of 1978’s Blood Feud (whose original Italian title – Fatto di sangue fra due uomini per causa di una vedova. Si sospettano moventi politici – has a Guinness World Record for the longest film title ever) immortalize areas that have survived for thousands of years, such as the Valley of Temples in Agrigento and the archaeological area of Segesta in Calatafimi (province of Trapani).
However, the most famous locations of Wertmüller’s films are those featured in Swept Away by an Unusual Destiny in the Blue Sea of August, where the arrogant Mariangela Melato and irascible Giancarlo Giannini become lovers on a dreamy island that is, actually, a combination of several stunning settings on the Eastern coast of Sardinia: Cala Fuili, Cala Luna and Capo Comino.
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