|Index||10 reviews in total|
Surreal, absurdist (kind of), very Italian, very 60s. You should definitely see this movie if you like a) 60's clothes, b) 60's movie sets, c) weird movies, d) Silvana Mangano, and e) obscure Clint Eastwood titles (yes, he's in it, too), among other things.
On a sleepless night, in my late childhood I was struck by this bizarre movie, in a late-late hours rerun. It blew my mind, and I still wonder around video rentals looking for a copy, in vain. It was conceived probably as a showcase for Silvia Mangano but it is only natural that with such talented directors the movie is not about her, it is instead about them. The first and last episodes are a charming display of misogyny, being the first the silent vivisection of a woman while in the later, featuring a almost speechless Clint Stewood, a cathartic (or rather hysterical) woman lists verborhagically the common places of women paradoxes. But it is Pasollini's "Earth seen from the moon" piece that really breaks through, depicting the perfect woman - half blond, half brunet and entirely mute. His is a little fable on women leading men into idiocy, condition incarnated by famous slapstick comedian Totó. The shortest episode, "Senso Civico" is completely superfluous and echoes another superfluous over-excited-Italian-freak-in-the-traffic episode played by Roberto Begnini in Jim Jarmush's "Night on earth". Still the best pick if you want to trade insomnia for fun.
Mangano, the wife of famed producer Dino de Laurentiis, gets a royal showcase here, portraying five different women in five short films, each directed by a noted Italian director. In the first (and lengthiest) one, she is a beleaguered movie star who hides away in the large ski chalet of an acquaintance and is promptly pursued by the men and nearly deconstructed by the women. This film has some interesting camera placement and some intriguing aspects, but isn't particularly revelatory or surprising. One ridiculous scene has her talking into a telephone in which her husband is screaming incoherently nonstop into the other end. An impossibly young and attractive Berger has a small role as a servant. Also, viewers could possibly die from the secondhand smoke emitted from the performers! Next Mangano plays a well-dressed woman whose car is stopped at the site of an accident. She picks up an injured man and speeds through the city waving a white handkerchief, but passes various first aid stations and hospitals along the way. The man mutters unintelligibly while he ponders why she is doing this. In the third short film, she is a green-haired deaf-mute who becomes the wife of a lonely widower who has been searching the country for a bride (and a step-mother for his son.) This is by far the most unusual of the stories and is told with much bizarre imagery, whimsy and surrealism. This will make it hard to take for some people, but it has value as an exercise in oddity and metaphor. Next up, Mangano plays a fiery Sicilian woman who has been wronged. When she expresses her shame to her father, it kicks off a whole chain of assassinations. Finally, she is a bored and unappreciated housewife married to Eastwood (of all people!) who complains to him about the mundane existence they share all the while fantasizing about what their life was once like and could be again with a little imagination. This one probably holds the most interest of the five because of the presence of a boyishly young Eastwood (who is quite game for the various shenanigans in the piece) and the myriad of striking costume and hairstyle changes that occur on Mangano throughout. It is a must-see for fans of the over-the-top "What a Way to Go!"-esque clothes of the time. Why didn't anyone ever make this lady a Bond villainess? One section has her being courted by a gaggle of sexy comic book characters like Flash Gordon and Batman. All but the last film suffer from the dreaded English dubbing, but some amount of entertainment value manages to come through. The title sequence is unusual and interesting. This melange of stories will not appeal to everyone, but most viewers will at least get a slight kick out of the last one if only for the sight of pup Eastwood and the way-out clothes in the fantasy sequences.
I once caught 15 minutes on Italian tv of Pasolini's contribution and was completely fascinated by it. Having now also seen his film "Uccellacci e uccellini," made the same year as "Le Streghe" and in much the same absurdist style, I understand even more fully the political commentary being made in both films. The social and political commentary in Pasolini's work is delivered obliquely and with great humor but is nonetheless vital to an understanding of both the style and content of his films. Even after having lived in Italy for some time, speaking the language fluently and learning as much as I could about the complicated political events of the fifties, sixties and seventies, I am aware that as a foreigner I am still at a disadvantage to fully "getting" the point that's being made in these two films. I would think it would be nearly impossible to find them anything other than strange and disconnected without some familiarity with the Italian political milieu of that period. However, that said, I think the beauty of the stylization - successfully realized and united on every level, design, costumes, cinematography and most particularly, acting - works irregardless and is entertaining in and of itself. It's especially interesting to see a comic performer as beloved and mainstream as Toto was at that time, so willingly and completely giving himself over to a director as completely experimental and also so controversial in an extremely volatile political climate as was Pasolini. My only negative comment about "Le streghe" is that I wish it weren't so impossible to get hold of as I would love to see this very beautiful film in its entirety.
*** out of ****
This is basically a collection of five short films all about women and the roles that people feel that they play in society. It gives us different interpretations of women and how people feel around them.
The first story is about a famous actress who hides away from the public at a ski resort, before discovering that she's pregnant. But when she calls her husband, he is not at all supportive of her desire to have children. It starts out slow, but it becomes pretty haunting to watch after a while.
The second story gives us a woman who has an injured man in her car who is supposed to drive him to the hospital, but instead drives by several of them before going to where she wants to go. The man doesn't appear to be hurt too badly. Perhaps this is supposed to be a comment on how a woman supports a man in times of need?
The third story is an indescribably weird and chaotic satire of a father and son who look for a woman to be the father's wife and his son's mother. They come upon a woman who is deaf and are able to get something going with her before the story gets even weirder. This film actually really made me feel weird and left my mind broken in a million directions, but i couldn't stop watching it no matter how much i tired.
The forth is a story about a man who murders several people because of a woman. This one isn't really funny at all and is actually pretty depressing when you really get right down to it.
The fifth story has Clint Eastwood in it as the uninteresting husband of a woman who escapes into an imaginary world where she gets sweet revenge on him for being so boring.
My favorite story is the third, simply because it is so strange and unlike anything that it must be seen to be believed. Overall, i enjoyed it and found it to be very entertaining and interesting. It's creepy and weird if you aren't prepared. Check it out.
contains adult content and some violence.
These five shorts have an undeniable breezy quality, commenting
on the freewheeling Italian lifestyle of the swingin' sixties and also
offering some timeless "period" storytelling. The favorite is "The
Witch Burned Alive". Visconti's work is redolent of Fellini's "Juliet of
the Spirits"' upper class shenanigans, with the celebrity angle
making Woody Allen's comments nearly half a century later seem,
well, tired and inferior. Silvana Mangano appears a bit, well,
exhausted in this film and others of the series, like Chrisitna
Applegate on a bad day, but the costuming and Kitzbuehl apres ski
setting in a chalet make Visconti's short irresistible. The Pasolini
work is charming in a semi-dada-esque way, especially with the
knowledge that the young male pimply faced "actor' may well have
been really a boy toy from the streets of Roma. The story has a
punk rock feel that rings with folkloric quirkiness and white magic.
"Civic Spirit" is the most emblematic of the five, very au courant of the era, using an injured man as an excuse to barrel through Rome traffic at top speed under the guise of being hospital bound, while the driving beauty is really just using the poor hapless man as a shill to get to a rendezvous on time-- very cute, and Silvana looks fabulous once again, as she rushes to meet her playboy date. This film is on cable on occasion late at night and worth sitting through for the afficionado of these fine directors. Brava to Silvana, an actress largely forgotten in the pantheon of stars of international merit. Two pinkies held semi-high.
I was severely disappointed upon finding out that this movie wasn't an
anthology film themed around witches, but instead the segments don't
have a clear connecting point other than the fact that each of them
stars Silvana Mangano.
The animated intro is my favorite part of the movie. It's creative, somewhat humorous and has a fantastic score playing in the background. However, it's completely misleading (same as the title), as it foreshadows a plot centered about witches.
The first story (The Witch Burned Alive, dir. Visconti) is weak, boring and way too long. It's the longest segment and takes up a third of the movie's runtime. The story isn't all that interesting either.
The second one (Civic Sense, dir. Bolognini) is easily the worst of all. It's a pointless story about a woman offering to take an injured man to the hospital. The punchline isn't really clever, the direction bland, and the story is surprisingly dull for lasting only four minutes.
The third segment (The Earth as Seen from the Moon, dir. Pasolini) is the second worst. I'll give it credit for Totò's fun performance, but sadly everyone else is annoying in their role. The musical track that keeps playing gets aggravating quickly and the plot makes no sense whatsoever. The message of the story is clear only to Pasolini, and probably not even to him.
The fourth story (The Girl From Sicily, dir. Rossi) has some potential, but lasts only four minutes and is over before it starts. It isn't given much time, which is shame because the plot is better than the first three story lines.
The final story (An Evening Like The Others, dir. De Sica) is by far the best. Because of the plot and style, it's somewhat similar to Fellini's Juliet of the Spirits. Both Mangano and Eastwood are fun to watch and there are some clever shots and sequences, mostly the ones set in the wife's dream world. In the scene where she criticizes the comic books her son reads, you can see an issue of the comic book "Kriminal", about which I agree with her because that comic is horrible.
All in all, there's no reason why this movie's premise shouldn't have been set around the actual witches.
This portmanteau film, comprised of 5 short efforts by noted Italian directors, is decidedly unsuccessful. The best 2 are Luchino Visconti's "The Witch Burned Alive" and "An Evening Like The Others" by Vittorio De Sica, and those are far from excellent, but are quite effective. The whole thing is dated in quite a negative way, although some of the visuals and music is impressive, particularly that tune in the first segment that Mangano dances to. What perplexes is the general lack of film-making invention in any of them - any surrealism is mild and far from interesting. Pasolini's piece is pretty objectionable and bizarre, yet with seemingly no reason to it, with two frankly farcical characters indulging in dull, insubstantial activities. It's just irritating and has no reason to its stilted madness. The "Sicilian Belle" "piece" is just inconsequential, worse even than the fairly tenuous "Civic Spirit". What this odd but tedious collection of films do all display is an attempt at style-over-substance modish cinema. The whole thing seems very half-hearted really, with few directorial or writing touches evident. The de Sica piece however, has quite a good use of fantasy sequences, using the sensuous Silvana Mangano to the full. In its favour it can be said to have style - at least in the de Sica and Visconti pieces - and a rather effective array of hair stylings for Mangano, who appeals in all of the pieces. Mangano makes no impression in the middle 3 segments, perhaps as she's a mute "Absurdity" in Pasolini's, and is a mere catalyst in the other 2. She's good enough in the bookending pieces though, creating some character, unlike any other performers. Clint Eastwood is pretty anonymous really, but the last piece does flow well, with inventive, sometimes bizarre sequences of Silvana Mangano's fantasies. Overall, a disappointment, but with compensations. Beware the Pasolini segment...! Rating:- ** 1/2/*****
The best 25 minutes of Clint Eastwood's career lurk inside this uneven grab
bag of shorts by
five directors, among them greats. So good is he in Vittorio De Sica's
segment (as the Man in the Gray Flannel Suit who unleashes his wife's
Middy) that you wonder what would have happened had Eastwood done more
gifts were wasted on spaghetti and spurs.
De Sica's imagination is the star here. The rest of the material is mildly charming, middling, dated, watchable only for Silvano Mangano, or, in the case of the Pasolini, dreadful.
This one's a big-named Dog. The last segment, with Mangano and Clint Eastwood, is at least interesting, if only for a look at baby Clint, but ultimately goes nowhere. Big style, substance missing in action. Trivia note: in the first segment, filmed in Kitzbuhel, Austria, one of the press photogs is a Kitzbuhel local who was a ski instructor at the time, according to my husband who lived in Kitzbuhel around the same period. Yawn. I kept hoping something profound would happen. Hope was dashed. The Italians have a perfect word for this: Stupidagine!
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