4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Morricone score is better than this merely okay costumer
lor_ from New York, New York
14 March 2011
Having collected Morricone LPs religiously throughout the '70s, I've
latterly been trying my best to see some of the corresponding elusive
movies (many of which were never released in the U.S. in any form).
SEPOLTA VIVA has to rank as one of the disappointments.
Starring the wonderful Agostina Belli, and boasting a lush romantic
score from Ennio (directed by Bruno Nicolai), the mystery of its lack
of export has been solved: this film does not fit neatly into any
marketable category. It is a period romance set in France which has
some melodramatic elements, but is neither a thriller nor an adventure.
It more closely resembles a pageant, the sort of movie where the
audience goes home "humming the sets & costumes" as the cliché goes.
Title is in fact a misnomer, as this is not an Edgar Allan Poe tale of
a "woman buried alive" but rather a weakly plotted drama closer to
Alexandre Dumas. Unfortunately, the elaborate and intricate plotting of
Dumas, as evidenced in still-entertaining and repeatedly filmed classic
tales like THE MAN IN THE IRON MASK or THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO, is
lacking. SEPOLTA VIVA plods along without the pleasurable twists an
audience is accustomed to.
Belli, beautifully coiffed and appareled, is French duchess Christine
who is victim of some really evil scheming by the villains Ferdinand
(Maurizio Bonuglia, replete with mustache, but not of the twirling
caliber) and older Morel (guest star Jose Quaglio). Ferdinand slips a
form of poison in her drink one night, and when her lifeless-seeming
body is found the next morning it's funeral procession time.
Unlike the title's Poe-implication, the villains whisk away her body
before burial, substituting sand bags in the coffin. Belli is placed in
a tiny cell adjoining a water mill, where she wakes up to remain in
captivity (and unknown to anyone but the baddies) for the rest of the
The good guys including her boyfriend and her brother (played by
Francois Perrin and Fred Robsahm) eventually help out, but it is a
little boy who discovers her plight and helps her, even trying to saw
through the bars of her cell. Belli gives birth to a bambino (unaided
-she's a plucky heroine) in her cell, the infant saved by being passed
through the wide window bars to her young pal.
This just isn't very interesting overall, merely local color evoking a
couple of centuries back. The inimitable Laura Betti, with strange grey
wig, guest stars as a crazy woman, but even she fails to enliven a
sleepy, frankly dull approach taken by director Aldo Lado. His career
makes no sense at all, starting with two successful horror movies
(SHORT NIGHT OF THE BUTTERFLIES and WHO SAW HER DIE?), and then veering
to an impersonal succession of erotica and minor league international
thrillers, none of which has lived up to the initial promise.
Without spoiling them, final reels finally introduce some action,
including a broadsword fight and Poe-like "cell filling up with water"
Perils of Pauline danger for Belli. Wet or dry, she makes for a
sympathetic heroine, supported by Morricone and other fine technical
credits including reliable Mario Vulpiani lensing, but to no avail
thanks to weak script & direction.
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