Antonio Pietrangeli: A Retrospective
Antonio Pietrangeli's accidental death at the age of 49, as he was preparing a shot for the film Come, quando, perché?, robbed the Italian cinema of a major talent in his prime. Combining the moral urgency of Neorealism with the satirical eye of commedia all’italiana, Pietrangeli's work is centered on the evolving role of women in Italian society, as ancient traditions began to crumble after the collapse of fascism. From the provincial woman (Irene Galter) working as a maid in Rome in his first film, Empty Eyes (1953), to the bedazzled starlet (a magnificent Stefania Sandrelli), suddenly elevated from the working class, in his last completed feature, I Knew Her Well(1965), Pietrangeli's protagonists experience the promises and perils of a new, ambiguous freedom. The old institutions have been weakened, but no new communities of support have risen to take their place. Progress may demand that the brothels of Rome be closed, but as the four out-of-work prostitutes of Adua and Her Friends (led by Simone Signoret) discover, society is still unwilling to allow them to live on their own terms.