RIP Lina Wertmüller

Lina Wertmüller, a central figure of Italian cinema and the first woman to be nominated for an Academy Award in the best director category, died this week, Italy’s Ministry of Culture confirmed…She was 93…

Wertmüller made films that were both debased and staunch in their moral standing, condemned and adored, with pitch-black endings preceded by comedic beats.

“I think I have two souls,” Wertmüller told Criterion in 2017 ahead of a retrospective of her films. “One is playful, ironic, with a sense of humor. The other is in contact with the dramatic face of life and human problems around the world. The two natures live in me and never abandon me. My films might reflect this personality unconsciously.”

Her films were divisive, but she found an international audience: She was the first woman to be nominated for a best director Oscar for her film “Seven Beauties.”’s Charles Bramesco said her films, political commentary disguised as sex farces (with an emphasis on the sex), “titillated and scandalized audiences.”

Wertmüller told Bramesco in 2017 that “there’s no doubt that sensuality and eroticism are part of Italian cinema.” But she used sexuality as a lens through which to explore class dynamics and gender politics.

There will be retrospectives…no doubt. Try to watch as many of her films as you may have missed. I think many of Italy’s best actors and actresses of that period waited in line to capture a part in one or another of her films. At least those who I really loved.

One thought on “RIP Lina Wertmüller

  1. Eideard says:

    An important part of my enjoyment BITD of Wertmüller’s growth as a director was the number of new talents she introduced in her films. By the time SEVEN BEAUTIES came out, actors like Gianfranco Gianinni had become stars.

    I recall as if it was yesterday standing outside the little arthouse cinema in New Haven – a converted barn that held about 300 film buffs – discussing FIVE BEAUTIES. Frankly, I didn’t care much for it…feeling Wertmüller had not only chosen to make a more commercial film to get more recognition…she’d overdone it.

    My final take was, “At least, I got to see another film with Gianinni.”

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