| Mastroianni plays this like a secret between him and the audience; we are the only people implicated in his depravity. Law 587 is the protagonist of this film … a law that remained in the Italian code until 1981. 587 “Anyone who causes the death of the spouse, daughter or sister, in the act in which he discovers the illegitimate carnal relationship and in the state of anger determined by the offense brought to his or family’s honor, is punished with imprisonment from three at seven years. I’ll have to cut out everything!” It’s a moment in which the actor, who one year earlier was marketed internationally as the seductive star of Federico Fellini’s La Dolce Vita (1960), plays with the audience’s desire to look at him. Pietro Germi uses this law to show the paradox of a nation that feels modern but still maintains some absurd rules of the past. The chaos and hypocrisies of the time are explored in films like Il Sorpasso (The Easy Life, Dino Risi, 1962), Il Boom (The Boom, Vittorio De Sica, 1963), and the comedies of Mario Monicelli (including I soliti ignoti, 1958, known in English as Big Deal on Madonna Street). He persuades a painter to lure his wife into an affair, but Rosalia proves to be more faithful than he … He seeks temporary relief in his study, and standing before the large wall mirror, assesses his situation. Divorce Italian Style inspires these enigmas by making use of Mastroianni’s greatest gift – his ability to remain sympathetic even when behaving badly. Through these vehicles, Pietro Germi offers locomotive relief in Divorce Italian Style, a comedy about the horrors of inertia. Mastroianni, in undershirt and rumpled hair, preens himself, for our amusement and also his own. Once Rosalia has run off with Carmelo (Leopoldo Trieste), Fefè must embrace the role of cuckold as if shocked by what has transpired. Especially in a village, reputation is linked to the respect one receives from others. A married Sicilian baron falls in love with his cousin and vows to wed her, but with divorce illegal he must concoct a crime of passion to do away with his wife. It looks like we don't have a Synopsis for this title yet. “Well, I guess I am a rather interesting man,” he says, head angled and eyebrows raised in keen examination. He persuades a painter to lure his wife into an affair, but Rosalia proves to be more faithful than he expected. The goal is to keep the community as it always was because a change could lead to its destruction. The first, in which he imagines her stirring a hot vat of soap into which he will eventually throw her, is given an almost noirish quality. But when a betrayal destroys this honor, then the reputation is stained forever … And this stain falls on the whole family, indeed on the whole village … the honor must be absolutely recovered and the stain must be clean. Just click the "Edit page" button at the bottom of the page or learn more in the Synopsis submission guide. I’ll have to cut out fat, sugars and starches. No longer in modern cities but in smaller communities and in villages where time seems to have stopped. It is a key example of commedia all’italiana (comedy Italian style) – films that reflect the challenges faced by Italy during the postwar economic boom. Click here to make a donation. These films provoke genuine laughter alongside providing scathing social critique, realising with satire what neorealism had accomplished with melodrama. They are the exclusive property of man, to whom they must be totally submissive. As Fefè, he is bored and lustful, a charming rogue and a lecherous murderer. Rosalia’s nauseating neediness is contrasted with Angela’s quiet sensuality. Since divorce is impossible in Italy in the 1960s, he decides to kill the wife, knowing that sentence would be very light if he proved that he committed murder for a matter of honour, i.e. To get around the law, he tries to trick his wife into having an affair so he can catch her and murder her, as he knows he would be given a light sentence for killing an adulterous woman. Synopsis Fefè is inspired by an honour killing case being tried in Catania, where a woman who murdered her cheating husband has become a heroine to the women of the south, so often seduced and abandoned by feckless men. Given the fact that most of the victims of this law were women, it is very clear that it is a law made for men. By virtue of being the Baron Cefalù, Fefè is not merely a resident but a structural … To check that nothing changes and that everything remains as it has always been is the task of the same members of the community, who implement a form of social control that prevents any kind of innovation and change. But what is the honor? Virginity is their treasure that they must bring as a gift to their spouse. Perhaps affected by the repressive heat and the torpor of his days, Fefè decides to take action. For the film’s protagonist, the impoverished aristocrat Baron Ferdinando ‘Fefè’ Cefalù (Marcello Mastroianni), the moldy summer heat reinforces his physical oppression, promoting lethargy where he is already nearly inert. We cheer him on even as we condemn him. Later, when the family is at the beach, Fefè imagines Rosalia trapped in mud (she is buried up to her neck in the sand for her arthritis), and a smile passes across his face, an expression of barely contained delight. Petro Germi won an Academy Award Oscar for writing this darkly funny tale about Baron Fefé Cefalù (Marcello Mastroianni). But he is, as always, much more than just a beautiful face. He endows the self-absorbed Fefè with a mien he wears often in dramatic roles – a look of world-weary boredom or ennui. Fefè contrives his own ‘crime of passion’; he will liberate himself from Rosalia by manipulating her into an affair with a former love, and then kill her to avenge his honour. “Refined, intelligent,” he continues, “But that stomach! Angela instead, is a more modern woman and represents the times that are changing. To say otherwise is to deny how Germi uses Fefè as a scalpel with which to dissect the authority of the Catholic Church, the judiciary, and ‘laws’ that made it more socially acceptable to kill your spouse than it was to divorce them. In Divorce Italian Style it is Mastroianni’s commitment to jest that makes the film’s outrageous plotline a success. Be the first to contribute! His eyes, already dark and heavy-lidded, wear additional makeup to create an even more louche expression. Infatuated with his 16-year-old cousin Angela (Stefania Sandrelli), he sees a way out, a loophole of sorts to the Catholic Church’s prohibition of divorce. Therefore, he starts finding a lover for Rosalia, using Carmelo Patané, a painter well-known by her. Infatuated with his 16-year-old cousin Angela (Stefania Sandrelli), he sees a way out, a loophole of … But Fefè must also contend with the suffocating embraces of his love-starved wife of twelve years, Rosalia (Daniela Rocca). Divorce Italian Style (1961 Italy 104 min), Prod Co: Lux Film, Vides Cinematografica, Galatea Film Prod: Franco Cristaldi Dir: Petro Germi Scr: Ennio De Concini, Pietro Germi, Alfredo Ginannetti, Agenore Incrocci (uncredited) Phot: Leonida Barboni, Carlo Di Palma Ed: Roberto Cinquini Prod Des: Carlo Egidi Cost: Dina Di Bari Mus: Carlo Rustichelli, Cast: Marcello Mastroianni, Daniela Rocca, Stefania Sandrelli, Leopoldo Trieste, Odoardo Spadaro, Angela Cardile, Margherita Girelli, Bianca Castagnetta, Lando Buzzanca, Pietro Tordi, Laura Tomiselli, Ugo Torrente, Antonio Acqua. She has contributed to numerous publications and her writing reflects her interest in the aesthetics of desire, screen acting, and the complex pleasures of looking. | But even when he disappears over the hill and shoots Rosalia dead, Fefè doesn’t completely forfeit our regard. Mastroianni valued fun and here as Fefè his ability to tap into the absurd makes this arguably his greatest comic role. Subscribe to Senses of Cinema to receive news of our latest cinema journal.Enter your email address below: Pietro Germi’s satire of Sicilian machismo, Divorce Italian Style, unfolds within the stifling walls of a decaying palace in Agramonte, a town of “slow progress”. Mastroianni’s dominant mode, vocally and visually, is deadpan. If they are harassed, it is their fault because they are the ones who provoke the man. This quality is most obvious in the scenes in which Fefè fantasises about the ways he might kill Rosalia, where camera zooms take us inside his mind. Unlike its expression in La Notte (Michelangelo Antonioni, 1961), here it is a source of amusement. Pietro Germi seems to explain that honor is not an objective thing but is linked to the reputation that is given or removed by the peer group. The disparity between Fefè’s reality and his fantasy is exaggerated, as satire requires, through Rosalia’s excessive facial hair, grating voice, and saccharine poses, and the sudden, jarring Felliniesque close-ups of her face that feel like she is not only invading Fefè’s space but our own. The title Divorce Italian Style must also make us think how this law shows the paradox of a nation that accepts murder but cannot accept divorce … it seems that divorce is a sin superior to murder.