Maddalena (1971) Poster


User Reviews

Review this title
4 Reviews
Sort by:
Filter by Rating:
Fascinating art film deserves a revival
lor_12 July 2010
Jerzy Kawalerowicz's forgotten masterpiece, MADDALENA, is famous for its revered Morricone score, but deserves a revival on its own merits. Unfortunately, its lack of availability is easily explained by the current inversion in critical (and film buff) standards. Put simply, Maddalena is unique, and since it cannot be pigeon holed into one of the sale-able Italian genres (gialli, sexploitation, horror, etc.), and lacks the cachet of one of the all-time maestros (Antonioni, Fellini, Germi, Visconti, Pasolini, etc.), it has no place in our video store-mentality modern world.

Lisa Gastoni, one of my favorite actresses of the era (who reached her peak in Samperi's sublime SUBMISSION) takes the title role in uninhibited, full frontal nudity fashion. She's an earth-mother, the type usually reserved for Irene Papas, introduced doing a sexy gypsy dance under the credits, and later tempting our hangdog expression protagonist (Eric Woofe), a priest in doubt over his vocation. Midway through the film the priest even doffs his clerical outfit for civilian clothing, and later he joins Maddalena in the altogether in symbolic rather than sexual trysts on the beach.

The many beach scenes betray Polish director Jerzy's immersion in the style of Fellini for his first Italian film. Kawalerowicz, who was a much-admired art-house stalwart back in the day, though forgotten now, made a huge splash with JOAN OF THE ANGELS, a hit that was even more successful when remade by Ken Russell as THE DEVILS. In MADDALENA Jerzy returns the favor by adopting many of Ken's motifs (mainly from his TV films, especially ISADORA) including the phallic and masturbatory imagery. His use of flash-forwards and repeated footage is a Brechtian element of Maddalena that I didn't like, but overall its surreal atmosphere and imaginative sets are quite stimulating. Maddalena's doppelganger, dressed in white with a blonde wig, appears throughout the film in somewhat cryptic fashion.

Morricone's brilliant score is sparingly used during the 2-hour running time, and in fact the film lags a bit when the maestro's work is absent. His drummer Vincenzo Restuccia gets an unusual nod in the opening credits, and earns it with his spectacular percussion work during the first statement of Ennio's haunting theme.
17 out of 18 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
BandSAboutMovies22 September 2021
Warning: Spoilers
I got a package in the mail the other day from One 7 Movies and man, I'm glad I'm the one that opened it and not my wife, as it contained two bursts of scummy cinema that I'd be explaining for weeks. I didn't ask for this but when someone sends me something, I feel compelled to review it.

Who are One 7? According to Mya DVD, the label's press release states "It is our privilege to introduce a new label to the U. S. marketplace. One that builds upon the best traditions of Italian and European cinema, and is certain to gain cult status in the states quickly.

One 7 Movies was founded by one of the original partners of Mya Communications and No Shame Films. Expect the most classic, the most cutting edge, and the most sought after comedies, thrillers, science fiction epics, erotica, and much more...

All films have been beautifully transferred from original vault materials, and sleeve art design is eye-catching to say the least."

They're also making their disks with CAV, who handle some level of distribution for Mondo Macabro, New Concorde, Massacre Video, Grindhouse Releasing, Severin and others. I have no idea how they got my info, but they also sent me Redemptio, which solves that mystery of how that ended up in my mailbox.


The big selling point of this film - for me at least, beyond the fact that it's The Thorn Birds six years before the book that inspired that mini-series was written - is that it has an Ennio Morricone soundtrack, with two of the songs, "Come Maddalena" and "Chi Mai," being re-released as the song "Disco 78" in a different key and with louder and harder drums.

Polish director Jerzy Kawalerowicz (Mother Joan of the Angels) made this modern Mary Magdalene story in which the titular character (Lisa Gastoni, The Wild Wild Planet) is on the outs with her husband - who won't divorce her - so she attends erotic parties. At one of them, a priest is blindfolded and led before her and she decides to try to seduce him, all the whole seeing him as perhaps her salvation. It's complicated, just like this movie, which can't decide what genre it is and honestly doesn't care.

It's an interesting movie that seems to want to spend as much time being titillating as it does wanting to explore religious mores and themes, which might make it a hard sell to some audiences. It also doesn't have the cachet of a more well-known auteur for audiences to latch on to either. That said - I'm not upset with the time I spent with this film.

One 7 Movies also sent Os Violentadores De Meninas Virgens, a movie that I can't justify, unlike The Devil in Maddalena. In that movie, a group of wealthy men hires a pimp to provide them with a continual supply of women to assault and deflower. While they get theirs in the end, getting there means endless scenes of simulated rough antics which aren't my idea of entertainment. Your mileage may vary and I also hope that your mileage - if so - keeps you far away from me.

I wish I could tell you where to get more info on One 7, but they don't have a website. I can send you to Diabolik DVD if you want to purchase Maddalena however.
2 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Great Soundtrack
ian_powell23 August 2004
It would be interesting to know more about this obscure film, purely on the basis that it yielded two of Ennio Morricone's most beautiful and famous themes "Comme Maddelena" (Like Maddelena) and Chi Mai (Later re-used in "The Professional" and on UK TV) Comme Maddelena is just incredible, especially in the original version, with long drum riff intro (Rather than the 1978 disco version)It would be interesting to know what emotions, in terms of the film's story provoked these themes) As is so often the case Morricone has provided amazing music for films that completely disappear from view (another case would be La Califfa, from the same year)

These movies are probably worth re-releasing on DVD just on the strengths of their soundtracks alone
34 out of 39 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Mary Magdalene revisited
kevin-polfliet3 January 2009
The film Maddalena tells the story of a woman who is desperate to find real love in a real steady relationship on the one hand; and a priest who is doubting his ability to cope with celibacy on the other hand. When Maddalena decides the priest is the man that she wants, an atmosphere of erotic tension and self-questioning about true Faith fill up the air. The film is long forgotten (thus the five), but the score for the film, parts of which were used in other films, is considered by some as one of Morricone's finest, and quite rightly so. The already mentioned title part 'Come Maddalena', which mixes jazzy drumming with a modest church organ, the lyrical voices of Edda dell'Orso and a scatting choir, is probably one of the most evocative and thrilling parts of film music I have ever heard. Long before the world had ever heard of lounge music and chill-out, maestro Morricone must have sent the shivers down many a spine... as he has done so many times before and after.
15 out of 18 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.

See also

Awards | FAQ | User Ratings | External Reviews | Metacritic Reviews

Recently Viewed