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Made by the great director of TREE OF WOODEN CLOGS, IL POSTO , and CAMMINA CAMMINA, this movie is a contemporary comedy-allegory set mostly in an "enchanted" castle. The central character is Libenzio, a naive young apprentice waiter. Along with a group of other young people he is brought to the castle to assist in serving a gargantuan dinner of esoteric food. It is a gastronomic variation on the sado/sexual story of Pasolini's SALO'. The dinner is put on to honor a decrepit old woman who heads some mysterious multi-national conglomerate. It is part of an annual ritual attended by a crypto-Wagnerian elite. The jaded character of the guests is meant to contrast with the purer natures of the peasant youth who serve the meal. This is a strange and intriguing work which combines gothic black comedy with some lyrical counterpoint.
It's hard to put a movie I've only seen twice into the same class of perfection as 'Casablanca' and other 'greatest ever' films, but I still believe "Long Live the Signora" may be one of the most perfect films ever made. Directed by one of Italy's most famous directors, you would expect this Venice Film Festival silver medal winner to be more available, but it's almost impossible to find, even in film stores in Italy and France. Perhaps it left a more vivid impression on me because I saw it in Paris, a day after I saw "Death in Venice" for the first time. Try to see if YOU don't see the uncanny resemblance between the 'perfect' adolescent girl in this movie, and the 'perfect' boy in "Death in Venice" (both chosen for purity of beauty and risk of fall from innocence). If there weren't decades and nationalities between these two actors, I'd believe they were twins. Seeing the films one after the other made me truly believe the director had actually chosen her with this resemblance in mind. In any case, the movie may be too slow for most Americans. But for those who appreciate simple, pure character studies, you may fall as deeply in love with this movie as I did. I remember it as being the most technically perfect movie I've ever seen and a MUST SEE for all serious film lovers. Decide for yourself. The timing, the dialog, the insight into the minds of the youthful servants, and the generational contrasts were just classic. Simply unparalleled. A beautiful film that marked me for life. U.S. title: "Long Live the Lady!"
One evening, around 15 years ago (or maybe more), on our national
television station, there was broadcast a movie that, I can say without
any doubt, has "marked me for life". I was around 11 at that time. I
would have loved to see that movie again, a lot of times, since then...
but, unfortunately, I couldn't remember neither its title, nor its plot
or characters, not even the language of the movie. There were only a
few things that have remained clearly in my mind: the fact that almost
the entire movie is about a fancy dinner held in the honor of an old
lady, the fact that one of the guests sticks his tongue out at this
lady and the fact that, at the end of the movie, there is a chaotic
scene shot in a forest. Oh... and also the fact that this lady looks at
her guests using a pair of elegant binoculars.
With the help of a friend of mine - and I would like to thank him again this way - I have found that movie! It is LUNGA VITA ALLA SIGNORA! (LONG LIVE THE LADY!). In my opinion, it is a masterpiece. It is a great, excellent, magnificent, marvelous, fantastic, fascinating, superb movie! (I can't find at this time more superlatives, as I would have used them here, too!) The movie is perfect, from all points of view. It is mainly a comedy, but it has some dramatic elements also... and maybe a few horror ones, too. In fact, the movie is so perfect that it manages to convert little things like not having a lighter with you, at a given time, into a real drama. Also, the contrast between two worlds - the rich and the poor - is magnificently and uniquely achieved, mostly via visual means rather than dialogue, which is reduced to a minimum.
If, until now, somebody had asked me what my favorite movie was, I wouldn't have known what to say, as I had more than one favorite. Now, this "dilemma" is over, as I've got a clear answer: my favorite movie of all times is, indeed, LUNGA VITA ALLA SIGNORA!
This is the kind of Art-house flick that people will tell you is a
masterpiece even though they don't actually understand it. I don't
think there's really anything there to understand and even Olmi himself
didn't know what the film was about.
The only other Olmi film I've seen was "The Tree of Wooden Clogs," which seemed to me rather predictable but worth watching for the period and setting and also for the political and social insight into feudal class arrangements. I enjoy the spectacle of period pieces, but this film doesn't bother with that kind of realism. It's more of a long drawn-out fantasy nightmare with maybe some of the same elements of class distinctions transposed into the modern world. There's a thin storyline about the young protagonist who participates in a training program to become a servant at a grotesque banquet celebrating the glory of some monstrous old lady. He has flashback memories from childhood about some sort of religious imagery that seems related to present events, but all that was lost on me.
This movie is intriguing at first but then it drags on and on and never arrives at a coherent story, which becomes very aggravating about half-way through. In the end it all seems rather dated and facile and not very interesting. It's supposed to mean something deep and hidden-meaningful about society (or whatever) but it's not clear at all and by the end I was so bored I didn't care any more and was just glad it was over.
I am Greta and this is the best Italian Movie ever and IT WILL ALWAYS BE. The scenery, the Castle,the atmosphere and Italy! My grandfather is in it. He is my grandfather!!! The movie with Elio Bordignon and Ermanno Olmi as Director is very pleasant. The story is very atypical but very original.It is a story where a boy goes to work in this beautiful Castle as a waiter. He then realises how things are and he starts to experience life. At the beginning he is just a young unexperienced boy but later he starts to be self-consciousness of his work. You can easily see the psychology of the character changing time to times. My grandfather is the Butler of the Castle and one of the main characters. His main work is to prepare the Saloon for the feasts for the Old Lady!. I strongly believe that Mr Olmi (with Mr Bertolucci and Mr Zeffirelli) is able to tell a complex story with the simplicity of a genius. It is to be said that Mr Olmi (The Director) is known to be a big name in the History of the Italian Cinema. Netherless he won in Cannes and Venice Film Festivals. I had the chance to meet him and my grandmother to cook for him once.Please, get the movie and let me know. NONNO ELIO THE BEST!!!
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