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La Moglie Piu Bella
La Moglie Piu Bella (The Most Beautiful Wife) is a Sicilian film from director Damiano Damiani (A Genius, Two Friends, and an Idiot). Damiani, who directed both documentaries and social dramas, tells the semi-biographical story of the rape of a young girl in a Sicillian town.
The film is inspired by the true story of a girl who stood up to the Sicilian mafia and went against the culture of the time, where the expectation was for a girl who is raped to then marry the rapist. At the time it was a common societal issue in Sicily and the film explores this through the story of a feminist icon (named Franca Viola) who stood up for herself against the mafia and against her town.
The film is dark and disturbing in its portrayal of this story. The girl, Francesca (Ornella Muti), is supposed to marry Vita Juvara (Alessio Orano). It is what her society and townspeople expect of her. Yet Francesca goes against society's cruel and barbaric beliefs. She stands up for herself: she goes to speak to the police about her rape and she stands up to her parents, her neighbors, and to other townspeople who have wrongly judged her for not marrying Vita.
The cinematography is done by Franco Di Giacomo (Il Postino). It was Giacomo's debut work as a director of cinematography. The cinematography here is effective for the production. He went on to become a renowned cinematographer and this was his first work in the field.
The music score is composed by Ennio Morricone (Cinema Paradiso, The Hateful Eight, The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly). In one of the best scenes of the film, Morricone's score is entirely delirious in style: matching the outrageousness of a dinner party celebrating the supposed marriage between Francesca and Vita. The scene is haunting and outraging.
Directed by Damiano Damiani (Pizza Connection), La Moglie Piu Bella was an important endeavor for telling the story of this brave young girl in Sicily. The film was considered a controversial film at the time for even telling this story. Director Damiani wanted to make the film to reflect the social culture of Sicily at the time and he did this despite the mafia and the culture of the time.
The screenplay was written by Damiano Damiani, with co-writing by Enrico Ribulsi (Arturo's Island) and Sofia Scandurra (Thor and the Amazon Woman). The film is commendable for telling this important story. However, even though the film was pushing back at the wrongs of the culture, there are elements that are dated distastefully (such as a line of dialogue, delivered from Francesca, in which she says she could "learn to love him again" if he would only admit what he did was wrong.) This moment also seems relevant to the seemingly ambiguous final scene, which I also found upsetting.
In 1981, the law was changed in Italy. More than a decade after this film was produced, things were starting to improve for the better in Italian law and customs. La Moglie Piu Bella was a socially important work for addressing this horrific, disturbing, and wrong practice in Sicily. Adding to the discussion of such issues, La Moglie Piu Bella was a film that inspired more debate in Italy about such laws and the injustice of the time.
La Moglie Piu Bella is presented on Blu-ray with a 1080p MPEG-4 AVC encoded presentation. The film accurately presents the cinematography style of Franco Di Giacomo. The film appears dark and naturally filmic. This is a strong high-definition presentation of the film.
The audio is presented in 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio in the original Italian language. The film's audio is less sharp compared to the remastered picture but it's still easy to understand. It's a fine presentation of the film and the original score by Morricone.
An optional English dub is also provided.
Subtitles are presented in English.
Sicilly, Ornella, The Mafia, and Beyond (46 min.) is a documentary about the production of the La Moglie Piu Bella and the history behind the story that inspired its creation. The documentary features interview with director Damiano Damiani, cinematographer Franco Di Giacomo, editor Antonio Siciliano , and actor Alessio Orano.
Introduction by Director Damiano Damiani (1 min.) about the film.
Isolated Score Track featuring Morricone's score.
La Moglie Piu Bella was a culturally important Sicilian work which addressed a social injustice of the time. It sparked debate and discussion. It's significant and important for that alone. The film may be unfavorably dated in some regards today (because of some issues with the script), but it remains historically important for telling the story of a young girl who stood up for herself despite the horrifying circumstances of her culture and society.
Neil Lumbard is a lifelong fan of cinema. He aspires to make movies and has written two screenplays on spec. He loves writing, and currently does in Texas.