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Pasqualino, an Italian everyman, deserts the army during World War II. Germans capture him and send him to a prison camp, where he does just about anything to survive. In lengthy flashbacks, we see him and his family of seven unattractive sisters (the seven beauties), his accidental murder of one sister's lover, his confession and imprisonment, his calculated switch to an asylum, his rape of a patient, and his volunteering to be a soldier to escape confinement. To the chagrin of his obese German captor, his weak and cowardly character enables him to survive the war and return to Naples where he has a plan to survive the next world catastrophe.Written by
The wild twists and turns of an indomitable human spirit
Wertmueller has created a wonderful, rich and full portrait of a petty criminal whose life takes a series of severe and life changing turns. While the character of Pasqualino (Giannini)is presented as a 'cafone' (clown), his life's situation is one that is sympathetic. As we follow the course of this period of his life, we see Pasqualino's character change from insignificant ne'er-do-well into an Everyman caught up in the horrors and inhumanity of war.
Giannini portrays his character from start to finish with all the authenticity that he brings to all of his work. As Pasqualino, he plays the clown, the would-be criminal, inmate, soldier but above all a man surviving by his wits and to the best of his ability in the insane situation of war.
The defining scene of Pasqualino's spirit takes place during his German captivity as he stands, with hands on head (after refusing to inform on his fellow POWs), singing 'Maria' in his guttural, gritty voice. This simple yet powerful scene touches every heart as Pasqualino's fight for human dignity is clear.
Once again, Wertmueller has given us a capsule of Italian life during a horrendous period of history and has made it relevant to us all, for all time.
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