Provocative Italian filmmaker Lina Wertmueller, whose powerful blend of sex and politics in “Swept Away” and “Seven Beauties” made her the first woman nominated for an Oscar for Directing and a cult figure in the new film scene. -Yorkese, has died, the Culture Ministry said. She was 93 years old.
Wertmueller, who won an Oscar for Lifetime Achievement in 2019, died overnight in Rome surrounded by her family, LaPresse news agency reported, citing those close to her.
Culture Minister Dario Franceschini paid tribute to Wertmueller on Thursday, saying his “incomparable class and style” had left his mark in Italian and world cinema. âGrazie Lina,â he said in a statement.
Political, controversial, and often erotic, his films were filled with social commentary and anti-establishment satirical messages. Wertmueller, who also wrote the scripts for his films, described them as Marxist comedies.
“I refuse to make films without social themes,” said the woman dubbed “five feet of cinematic controversy.”
Five feet tall with dramatic eye makeup, colored hair, and rings all over her fingers, Wertmueller’s extravagant appearance was an integral part of her personality. In an interview with The Associated Press, she admitted that she owned hundreds of her white-rimmed glasses.
She was born Arcangela Felice Assunta Wertmueller von Elgg Spanol von Braueichjob in Rome in an aristocratic Swiss family. Apparently rejecting her parents’ wish to study law, Wertmueller instead attended drama school where she performed, wrote, and directed plays. A graduate of the Theater Academy in Rome, she toured Europe with the marionette troupe of Maria Signorelli.
In 1963, the Italian actor Marcello Mastroianni, the husband of a school friend, introduced Wertmueller to Federico Fellini, who asked him to be his assistant in “8Â½”. Wertmueller later said that Fellini turned out to be his biggest influence.
âIt’s enlightening to be close to him, because you are close to a character who is so deeply unconventional, who runs with himself like a child with a kite,â she said.
The same year, encouraged by Fellini, Wertmueller went to Sicily to direct âLes LÃ©zardsâ, his first feature film. It was received favorably, but the director herself criticized it as being “too rarefied”, too difficult for people to understand. She wanted to make films for the general public.
Wertmueller’s hit streak began with ‘Seduction of Mimi’ (1972), the title of which was abbreviated to ‘Mimi the Wounded Steelworker in His Honor’ – Wertmueller told the AP the long headlines amused him. The New Yorker called it a “wonderfully funny sex farce” and Time magazine named it one of the top 10 movies of the year. Other box office hits included “Love and Anarchy” (1973), “Swept Away” (1974) and “Seven Beauties” (1976), which earned her an Oscar nomination for director, one for best original screenplay and another for his lead role. male, Giancarlo Giannini.
She didn’t win at the time, but the Academy recognized the milestone by awarding her a Lifetime Achievement Award more than four decades later, in 2019.
Film critic Roger Ebert gave “Swept Away” its highest mark, saying that despite the film’s clash between a wealthy capitalist and her Marxist employee, it “persists in talking about a man and a woman.” Other critics were uncomfortable with its violence against women, with Anthony Kaufman calling it “perhaps the most outrageously misogynistic film ever directed by a woman”. The film won the National Board of Review’s award for best foreign film in 1975.
The allure of sex was a constant theme. In “Mimi’s Seduction,” a man is drawn to communism in part because it allows him to have an affair with a sexy communist. In “Seven Beauties” Pasqualino, played by Giannini – for years Wertmueller’s favorite main man – decides to survive at all costs in a concentration camp, even making love to the fat and brutal Nazi woman in charge. .
Yet with âA Night Full of Rainâ from 1977, Wertmueller’s first English-language film, American critics were no longer so enthusiastic.
Wertmueller liked to bring together seemingly contradictory forces. His 1992 film “Ciao, Professore!” tells the story of Neapolitan schoolchildren forced to deliver drugs and kill, but she called the film “an act of love for the south and the children.”
âI see the possibility of humor in the more serious things,â she said.
Full of energy, Wertmueller had the reputation of being a slave owner on the set, dominating the actors and changing scenes at the whim of the moment.
“It’s a storm,” Swedish director Ingmar Bergman once said.
But Giannini said the director is always open to suggestions.
âLina seeks advice from everyone, cameramen and actors alike. She believes that a film is the product of a collaboration, âhe said.
Wertmueller was also a member of the jury of the Venice Film Festival in 1988 and was director of the Italian theater school.
She worked closely with her set designer husband, Enrico Job, for all of her hit photos, calling it “my best review”. He died in 2008.
Wertmueller is survived by their daughter, Maria Zulima Job.
The city hall of Rome has announced that it will organize a vigil on Friday in one of its main reception rooms.