Italian theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Lina Wertmüller|
|Written by||Lina Wertmüller|
|Music by||Nando de Luca e Enzo Jannacci|
|Cinematography||Tonino Delli Colli|
|Edited by||Franco Fraticelli|
|Distributed by||Medusa Distribuzione|
Written by Wertmüller, the film is about an Italian everyman who deserts the army during World War II and is then captured by the Germans and sent to a prison camp, where he does anything to survive. Through flashbacks, we learn about his family of seven unattractive sisters, his accidental murder of one sister's lover, his imprisonment in an insane asylum—where he rapes a patient—and his volunteering to be a soldier to escape confinement.
For her work on the film, Wertmüller became the first woman nominated for the Academy Award for Best Director, a feat not matched again until 1993, when New Zealand filmmaker Jane Campion was nominated for The Piano. The film received three other Academy Award nominations, including one for Best Foreign Language Film. It also received one Golden Globe Award nomination for Best Foreign Film.
The production design and costume design were by the director's husband, Enrico Job.
The picaresque story follows its protagonist, Pasqualino (Giannini), a dandy and small-time hood in Naples in Fascist and World War II Italy.
To save the family honour, Pasqualino kills a pimp who had turned his sister into a prostitute. To dispose of the victim's body, he dismembers it and places the parts in suitcases. Caught by the police, he is convicted and sent to prison.
Pasqualino succeeds in getting himself transferred to a psychiatric ward but, desperate to get out, he volunteers for the Italian Army, which is allied with the German army. With an Italian comrade, he eventually deserts the army, but they are captured and sent to a German concentration camp.
In a bid to save his own life, Pasqualino decides to survive the camp by providing sexual favors to the obese and ugly female commandant (Stoler). His plan succeeds, but the commandant puts Pasqualino in charge of a barracks as a kapo. Here he must select six men to be killed to prevent all from being killed. Pasqualino ends up executing his former Army comrade, and he is responsible for the death of another fellow prisoner, a Spanish anarchist.
At the war's end, upon his return to Naples, Pasqualino discovers that his seven sisters, his fiancée, and even his mother have all survived by becoming prostitutes.
- Giancarlo Giannini as Pasqualino Frafuso aka Settebellezze
- Fernando Rey as Pedro (the anarchist prisoner)
- Shirley Stoler as The Prison Camp Commandant[N 1]
- Elena Fiore as Concettina (a sister)
- Piero Di Iorio as Francesco (Pasqualino's comrade)
- Enzo Vitale as Don Raffaele
- Roberto Herlitzka as Socialist
- Lucio Amelio as Lawyer
- Ermelinda De Felice as Pasqualino's Mother
- Bianca D'Origlia as The Psychiatrist
- Francesca Marciano as Carolina
- Mario Conti as Totonno "18 Carati" (Concettina's pimp)
- Barbara Valmorin as The Prison Camp Commandant's Secretary
In the opening sequence of Seven Beauties, spoken over World War II archival footage showing the destruction of cities and men, Wertmüller defines the object of her critique—a "particular petty bourgeois social type".
- The ones who don't enjoy themselves even when they laugh. Oh yeah.
- The ones who worship the corporate image not knowing that they work for someone else. Oh yeah.
- The ones who should have been shot in the cradle. Pow! Oh yeah.
- The ones who say, "Follow me to success, but kill me if I fail," so to speak. Oh yeah.
- The ones who say, "We Italians are the greatest he-men on earth." Oh yeah.
- The ones who are from Rome.
- The ones who say, "That's for me."
- The ones who say, "You know what I mean?" Oh yeah.
- The ones who vote for the right because they're fed up with strikes. Oh yeah.
- The ones who vote blank ballot in order not to get dirty. Oh yeah.
- The ones who never get involved with politics. Oh yeah.
- The ones who say, "Be calm ... calm."
- The ones who still support the king.
- The ones who say, "Yes, sir." Oh yeah.
- The ones who make love standing in their boots and imagine they're in a luxurious bed.
- The ones who believe Christ is Santa Claus as a young man. Oh yeah.
- The ones who say, "Oh what the hell."
- The ones who were there.
- The ones who believe in everything ... even in God.
- The ones who listen to the national anthem. Oh yeah.
- The ones who love their country.
- The ones who keep going, just to see how it will end. Oh yeah.
- The ones who are in garbage up to here. Oh yeah.
- The ones who sleep soundly, even with cancer. Oh, yeah.
- The ones who even now don't believe the world is round. Oh yeah. Oh yeah.
- The ones who are afraid of flying. Oh yeah.
- The ones who've never had a fatal accident. Oh yeah. The ones who've had one.
- The ones who at a certain point in their lives create a secret weapon: Christ. Oh yeah.
- The ones who are always standing at the bar.
- The ones who are always in Switzerland.
- The ones who started early, haven't arrived, and don't know they're not going to. Oh yeah.
- The ones who lose wars by the skin of their teeth.
- The ones who say, "Everything is wrong here."
- The ones who say, "Now let's all have a good laugh." Oh yeah. Oh yeah. Oh yeah. Oh yeah.
The subject of the film is survival. At the time of its release, it was controversial for its graphic depiction of Nazi concentration camps. In his 1976 essay "Surviving", Bruno Bettelheim, while admiring the film's artistry, severely criticized its impression of the experience of concentration camp survivors. Bettelheim's own views about concentration camps have likewise been critiqued.
On the aggregate reviewer web site Rotten Tomatoes, the film received a 91% positive rating from top film critics (based on 11 reviews) and an 88% positive audience rating (based on 1,940 reviews).
Awards and nominations
|1977||Academy Awards||Best Director||Lina Wertmüller||Nominated[N 2]|
|Best Actor in a Leading Role||Giancarlo Giannini||Nominated|
|Best Writing (Original Screenplay)||Lina Wertmüller||Nominated|
|Best Foreign Language Film||Nominated|
|Directors Guild of America Award||Outstanding Directorial Achievement||Lina Wertmüller||Nominated|
|Golden Globe Award||Best Foreign Film||Nominated|
|New York Film Critics Circle Award||Best Film||Nominated|
|Best Director||Lina Wertmüller||Nominated|
|Best Actor||Giancarlo Giannini||Nominated|
|Best Screenplay||Lina Wertmüller||Nominated|
- List of submissions to the 49th Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film
- List of Italian submissions for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film
- List of Italian films of 1975
- The Seven Beauties. A medieval Iranian romance poem about the foreign escapades of the pre-Islamic Persian ruler, Bayram Gur. Framed in pleasantries in seven pavilions modelled on seven climes controlled by the seven planets followed by various sufferings, grievances and injustices encountered in seven of his subjects.
- Shirley Stoler's character was based on Ilse Koch, notoriously known as "the Bitch of Buchenwald". The wife of the camp's commandant Karl Otto Koch, she reportedly took sadistic pleasure in torturing inmates, and was accused of having lampshades made out of their skin, although these charges were dropped due to lack of evidence.
- This was the first nomination of a woman for Best Director in the history of the Academy Awards.
- "Seven Beauties". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 8 March 2012.
- "The 49th Academy Awards (1977) Nominees and Winners". oscars.org. Retrieved 2012-03-25.
- "Awards for Seven Beauties". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 8 March 2012.
- "Full cast and crew for Seven Beauties". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 9 March 2012.
- "Filming locations for Seven Beauties". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 9 March 2012.
- Astle, Richard (1977). "Seven Beauties Survival, Lina-style". Jump Cut. pp. 22–23. Retrieved 9 March 2012.
- Bettelheim, Bruno. Surviving and Other Essays. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1979.
- Biale, David (1 October 1979). "Surviving and Other Essays, by Bruno Bettelheim". commentarymagazine.com. Commentary Magazine. Retrieved 5 June 2018.
- "Pasqualino Settebellezze (Seven Beauties)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 9 March 2012.
- Bondanella, Peter (2009). History of Italian Cinema. New York: Continuum. ISBN 978-0826417855.
- Bullaro, Grace Russo (2007). Man in Disorder: The Cinema of Lina Wertmüller in the 1970s. Troubador Publishing Ltd. ISBN 978-1905886395.
- Wertmüller, Lina (1978). The Screenplays of Lina Wertmuller. New York: Werner Books. ISBN 978-0446872621.