Lina Wertmüller Elizabeth Sussex - Essay

Elizabeth Sussex

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

[Like] so many of the current generation of Italian directors …, Lina Wertmüller is building on Italy's neorealist history [in The Lizards] and using as raw material the ambivalent face of a country that, in its infinitely varied sociology, is like a microcosm of the world. In the Italian cinema neorealism is no longer an idea but an instinct, an inherited gift that, coupled with a good script, can scarcely produce a bad film. It is not therefore as surprising as it would be anywhere else to find, in Italy, a new director who can perfectly evoke a way of life—especially when, like Lina Wertmüller, she can write her own quietly effective script. The Lizards … seems, in fact, so basically unassuming that it is very easy to fall into the error of regarding it as documentary instead of the very visual kind of drama that it is…. But Lina Wertmüller's personal contribution to a theme which at first glance seems very like that of I Vitelloni … is less marked in that to some extent she is still feeling her way. It is, however, enough to point to the sequence which begins with an elderly woman committing suicide because her daughter-in-law has ousted her authority in the home…. Nothing could be further from documentary than [the] succession of images [in this sequence], nor is it symbolic except for those who like to think in symbols. To see it is, quite simply, to feel what the director wants to convey. The method might be...

(The entire section is 542 words.)