Lina Wertmuller's inglourious "Seven Beauties" (1975)


Lina Wertmuller's Seven Beauties is an ugly movie. I do mean it as a compliment. Wertmuller is a female Italian director who's films aren't the most heartwarming. She has consistently tried to break societal taboos over her long illustrious career, albeit with her films not always well received. Seven Beauties is the best film of her career and justifiably made her the first female director to ever get nominated for a Directing Oscar. Tackling the holocaust, WW2 and Italy's ugly role in this bloody war can be seen as something of a risk given Italy was still in a state of shame for what they had done at the time of the movie's release. The taboos tackled by Wertmuller were indelibly cringed in an air of shame.

The main character Pasqualino, playfully rendered by Giancarlo Giannini, is a POW that will do anything to survive in the prison camps. Even if it means sleeping with the obese, repulsive and hated Nazi commander. The scene in which he performs sexual favors to the commander is as disturbing as cringe-inducing as it is brutally funny. In flashbacks we see Pasqualino's life as a small time hood in Naples. These flashbacks are meant as a way for us to find out how he got into this very situation at the POW camp. Pasqualino ends up killing his sister's pimp, then -in an unforgettable scene- tries to find a way to dispose of the body, dissecting it with a chainsaw and placing its parts in a suitcase. Pasqualino eventually gets caught. Pleading insanity he is sent to an asylum where he lives out his days.

Wertmuller wanted to push buttons with her film. Make people as uncomfortable as possible. She tries to make the obese and ugly Nazi commander as obese and ugly as possible to make us cringe at how desperate Pasqualino truly is. Here is in fact a very desperate man that goes at arms length to get himself out of situations. Another example is the aforementioned dissection of the pimp, a brutally funny Tarantino-esque journey into hell. Wertmuller shoots these scenes with no restraint, she goes over the top purposely and some didn't take to heart her style back in 1975. Too bad, Seven Beauties is a landmark of cinema and clearly inspired Tarantino to re-write WW2  history himself with Inglourious Basterds.

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