Lina Wertmuller: Portrait - Augusto De Luca
|Born||Arcangela Felice Assunta Wertmüller von Elgg Español von Braueich
August 14, 1926
With the full name Arcangela Felice Assunta Wertmüller von Elgg Español von Braueich, Wertmüller was born in Rome to a devoutly Roman Catholic Swiss family, of aristocratic descent. She was rebellious as a child and was expelled from more than a dozen Catholic schools. Although her father wanted her to become a lawyer she enrolled in theatre school.
After graduating from school, her first job was touring Europe in a puppet show. For the next ten years she worked as an actress, director and playwright in legitimate theatre. During this period she met Giancarlo Giannini, who would later star in many of her films. Through her acquaintance with Marcello Mastroianni, she met Federico Fellini and in 1962 Fellini offered her the position of assistant director on 8½. The following year, Wertmüller made her directorial debut with The Lizards (I Basilischi), a film whose subject matter (the lives of impoverished people in southern Italy) would become a recurring motif in her later work.
Several other moderately successful films followed, but it was not until 1972 that Wertmüller achieved lasting international acclaim with a series of four movies starring Giancarlo Giannini. The last, and best-received of these, was 1975's Seven Beauties (Pasqualino Sette Bellezze), which earned 4 Academy Award nominations and was an international hit. Wertmüller was the first woman to receive an Academy Award nomination for Best Director. Jane Campion, Sofia Coppola, and Kathryn Bigelow are the only other female directors to have been nominated.
Her 1978 film A Night Full of Rain was entered into the 28th Berlin International Film Festival. Eight years later, her film Camorra (A Story of Streets, Women and Crime) was entered into the 36th Berlin International Film Festival.
In 1985, she was awarded the Women in Film Crystal Award for outstanding women who, through their endurance and the excellence of their work, have helped to expand the role of women within the entertainment industry.
She is known for her whimsically prolix movie titles, for instance, the full title of Swept Away is "Swept away by an unusual destiny in the blue sea of August". These titles were invariably shortened for international release. She is entered in the Guinness Book of Records for the longest film title: Un fatto di sangue nel comune di Siculiana fra due uomini per causa di una vedova. Si sospettano moventi politici. Amore-Morte-Shimmy. Lugano belle. Tarantelle. Tarallucci e vino (a movie from 1979 with 179 characters that is better known under the international titles Blood Feud or Revenge)
Although Wertmüller has had a prolific career since, and is still actively directing, none of her later films have had the same impact as her mid-1970s collaborations with Giannini. Wertmüller was married to Enrico Job (died 4 March 2008), an art designer who worked on several of her pictures.
In general, Wertmüller's films are highly reflective of her own political commitments, with the main characters either dedicated anarchists, communists, feminists (or all), and the main action centered on conflicts which are political or socioeconomic in nature. Despite this, Wertmüller's films are rarely didactic, and often reflect her own iconoclastic sensibility.
For example, Swept Away tells the story of a rich, liberated industrialist's wife who finds erotic fulfillment only after being sado-masochistically "tamed" by a macho, communist private yacht deck-hand. The film earned the ire of orthodox feminists, one of whom asked in a review whether Wertmüller had now become "one of the boys". Wertmüller has also been criticized for the sexual dichotomy within her films which reflects a comical men-as-dogs/women-as-whores perspective.
- Peter Biskind. "Lina Wertmuller: The Politics of Private Life" in Film Quarterly 28, pp. 10–16 (1974–75)
- Bullaro, Grace Russo. Man in Disorder - The Cinema of Lina Wertmüller in the 1970s. ISBN 978-1-905886-39-5
- Déléas, Josette. Lina Wertmüller - Un rire noir chaussé de lunettes blanches - a critical biography filled with delightful anecdotes and Lina's irresistible humour. ISBN 978-1-4251-2755-8
- William R. Magretta and Joan Magretta. "Lina Wertmuller and the Tradition of Italian Carnivalesque Comedy" in Genre 12, pp. 25–43. (1979)
- Tiziana Masucci, "I chiari di Lina" -her new and sparkling biography- (Edizioni Sabinae,Roma 2009)ISBN 978-88-96105-22-1
- "The 49th Academy Awards (1977) Nominees and Winners". oscars.org. Retrieved 2012-03-25.
- Micheal Cieply &, Brooks Barnes (8 March 2010), "'The Hurt Locker’ Wins Big at Oscars", The New York Times: C1
- "IMDB.com: Awards for A Night Full of Rain". imdb.com. Retrieved 2010-08-07.
- "Berlinale: 1986 Programme". berlinale.de. Retrieved 2011-01-15.
- "14th Moscow International Film Festival (1985)". MIFF. Retrieved 2013-02-17.