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italian cinema

italian cinema
For Natalie Fullwood (2010), Pietrangeli’s films ‘show a particular concern with the way in which women inhabit, use, and move through space’. To what extent do you agree with this view with reference to La visita/The visitor? What devices does Pietrangeli use to construct both the character of Pina and the space she inhabits, and what relation is established between the two?
Film that you should use : La visita/The visitor (1963) Pietrangieli
Powerpoint presentation
Main interest in characterization
Main focus on women; gender relations; role/image in society
unusual depth & complexity of female characters (unlike in most commedie all’italiana)
Women as key to understanding cont. society:
Italy in the 1950s/1960s: economic boom; drastic social changes
Internal intertextuality: recurrent images (i.e. mirrors)
Often stereotypical link between woman & Nature, earth, landscape, dying rural society (and its social values)
Often equation between femininity and domesticity
Many feminist theorists have explored how society’s gender imbalances are recreated and reinforced spatially.
For Natalie Fullwood Pietrangeli’s films ‘show a particular concern with the way in which women inhabit, use, and move through space’
The films ‘portray complex, autonomous female subjects at odds with a society ill-prepared to accommodate this complexity and autonomy’
(Fullwood, N., ‘Commedie al femminile: the gendering of space in three films by Antonio Pietrangeli’, Italian Studies, vol 65, n. 1, March 2010, pp. 85Men mostly look for wedding (as economic settlement)
Women for affection – Pietrangeli’s critique of the bourgeois wedding as economic contract
‘The alienation of the sexes from each other under patriarchy is exacerbated by the galloping consumerism and changing work patterns portrayed in the films’ (Günsberg 2005).
In Pietrangeli’s film great emphasis on mirrors: character’s reflection; solitude; image seen by others/created by society-106)
Unlike men, Pietrangeli’s female characters preserve their coherence/moral purity, despite often being exploited by men
While men mostly comply with stereotype, Pietrangeli’s women try to  overturn the rules of a man-made society, yet these are hard to break…
Focus on movement:
Women often move through space – i.e. women drive: freedom & autonomy – long shots emphasize this
, Pietrangeli pictures women as moving subjects, having agency (rather than passive) – do you agree?
Women have a degree of sexual/social independence:
La visita – Pina’s economic independence (her own house & car) and she is without a family – rare case in Italian cinema of the time
Yet  maternity is negated to all of Pietrangeli’s female characters (impossible, interrupted or simulated)
Despite their relative freedom, they seek to settle down/marry
In Pietrangeli’s films women are often from the North < > men from the South (as in La visita) (South conveying stereotype of backwardness)
Women always displace men, who expect different characters (i.e. women go beyond their assigned role)
For most (male) critics, Pietrangeli is sympathetic to his women characters; for Irene Bignardi (1999) he is a misanthrope
Ambiguity of women’s ‘success’ in gaining greater independence
For Pietrangeli nearly all of them succeed in voicing (if not achieving) what they wanted, so they are defeated up to aPina in La visita never leaves her village, but Adolfo comes from Rome
Her dream of moving to Rome to escape the village ‘surveillance’ point.
Pina has all mod cons in her flat in the province
Much focus on  interiors in La visita; mostly on Pina’s house/home which reveals so much of her character
Explore careful domestic space and its mise en scène > what does it indicate?
5 associative flashbacks (free indirect subjective) to better explore the characters
3 on Pina, 2 on Adolfo
Independent woman: her own house, job, car
Regional identity – a ‘real donna emiliana’?
‘The entry of women into well-paid jobs during the boom > effect of emasculating the husbands by diminishing their social status’ (Günsberg 2005)
For Irene Bignardi (1999) Pina is
The most complex female portrait in Pietrangeli’s films
Character development within just 24 hours
Lack of moralist judgment from Pietrangeli’s part
> do you agree?
At a certain age, both men and women, but especially women, begin to feel the cultural
pressure to settle down, get married, and have children. This is as true today in the age of online
dating, matchmaking services, and in-vitro fertilization as it was in the Sixties, when Pietrangeli
was making his film, La visita (1963). This film tells the story of a failed attempt at matchmaking
after Pina (Sandra Milo), a woman whose “biological clock is ticking” as she approaches
her late thirties, writes to a lonely hearts column looking for a suitor, a companion, someone with
which to share her life. What she comes to discover, over the course of the film, is that her life is
already full and that Adolfo’s (François Périer) intrusion into her world, her domestic space, is
precisely that, an intrusion.
Pina, the thirty-six year old female protagonist of the film, is portrayed as a character in
conflict, but also a character marked by an excessive quality that is bestowed on her by
Pietrangeli in order to show that the traditional narrative trope of marriage as happy ending is not
a foregone conclusion for a modern woman. As stated by Kristin Thompson in her study of
cinematic excess, viewing films with an attention to excessive structures “allow[s] us to look
further into a film, renewing its ability to intrigue us by its strangeness; it also can help us to be
aware of how the whole film – not just its narrative – works upon our perception.”205 Pietrangeli’s
creation of an unconventional female character who does not simply “settle” when it comes to
choosing a mate, indicates her excessive quality at the level of narrative, while her physical
attributes and domestic life indicate her excessive quality on a visual and auditory level. In
discussing Eisenstein’s Ivan the Terrible, Thompson builds on previous studies by Roland
Barthes and Stephen Heath when she defines cinematic excess as “those aspects of the work
Pina’s abundance, her high register of auditory and visual screen presence, her mask-like
make-up to her prosthetic rear end to her menagerie of pets to her incessant chattering, is in stark
contrast to Adolfo’s portrayal as inept, miserly, and generally lacking in positive, attractive
qualities that would make him a good mate. Pietrangeli’s formal choice to pad Sandra Milo’s
posterior is clearly a significant detail, a mark of excess that almost all the reviewers of the film
mention but fail to analyze as signifier. Of her costuming, Antonio Maraldi writes that, “her
physical aspect… her bow mouth and her big behind (the costumes are by Umberto Tosi and
Margherita Ferrone, the director’s wife) emphasize the mingling of naiveté and provincial
sensuality.”208 The decision to pad her bottom, consequently, was a formal choice that included a
female perspective, not a mere fetishistic or anatomical joke.
Reading Pina as a mark of excess
160within the conflictual narrative structures of the film serves a twofold purpose: one, it explains
Pietrangeli’s formal choices in manipulating Sandra Milo’s appearance and Pina’s on-screen
persona, and two, it opens up a theoretical space that permits a political, socio-economic, and
psychological exploration of the significance of Pina’s character within Pietrangeli’s cinematic regime
She feels the societal pressure to settle down, evidenced by her flashbacks
of lonely evenings spent alone and her colleagues asking her about her love life, but when push
comes to shove and Adolfo shows up, she does not compromise her standards for love and
affection by sacrificing her personal, economic autonomy and independence
Pina’s loneliness and her active solicitation of a marriage and a sexual partner
both fly in the face of Freud’s gendered characterization of the monogamous couple as a
foundational, patriarchal structure. Pietrangeli shows her as desiring not only a family, hence not
164only a child, but also a husband, someone with whom to share the long, dark nights in the
Emilian countryside. Pina’s active solicitation of a partner, her role as consumer, she who is
doing the choosing within the confines of the Lonely Hearts column, is incommensurate with the
traditional gendered order demanded by Freud’s monogamous couple. Unlike Freud’s
characterization of a woman who desires only a child, Pina is shown desiring a male partner, a
sexual and affectionate object of her own.
Her desire for the love of a man is not the only problem Pina faces when it comes to the
Pietrangeli portrays this societal pressure to wed in numerous forms, from Angelina’s
coaxing Adolfo to “marry Pina, she’s got a heart of gold,” to Pina’s lonely candlelight perusing
of fashion magazines full of photos of brides. This culturally-imposed and self-imposed idea of
lack, the idea that she is somehow incomplete because she is not married, requires Pina to also
relinquish control and padronanza over her own house despite the fact that she is her own
breadwinner. Certainly, Pina is bringing more to the negotiating table than Adolfo, whose desire
to move to San Benedetto Po and to live off of Pina justifies the insult “Roman parasite” later
hurled at him by Pina’s fellow townspeople. In fact, there is a moment in the film, after Adolfo
has drunkenly humiliated himself in front of the townspeople and when the couple has returned
home to find Pina’s ex-lover, Renato, in her bed sleeping, when the word padrona, previously
uttered by Adolfo and others in reference to Pina becomes Adolfo’s own claim over the house as
padrone. He claims the right to deal with Renato as intruder into his domestic sphere, offering to
show Renato to the gate as “a good master of the household should,” “come fa un vero padrone.”
This moment is a sort of reckoning for Pina, whose moment of self-examination is signaled by
Pietrangeli with a shot of her looking at herself in the mirror. When Renato gives her key back to
her, Pina seems to recognize what she risks losing with Adolfo as padrone of her life, her home.
The following scenes unequivocally show that Pina is unwilling to compromise her position as
padrona in her own household. The following section contains an in-depth analysis of these
scenes which serve as testimony of Pina’s autonomous status and the difficulty of both attaining
and maintaining this status for an Italian woman in the Sixties. Yet this remains a psychological
169hurdle for women still today: Our cultural fascination with women struggling to find  a balance
between emotional satisfaction in the form of love and professional or economic satisfaction in
the form of work can be found in the plethora of television programs about housewives,
weddings and marriage, and professional women that dominate our cultural landscape.
Pina, as Engels writes of the proletarian woman, “has regained… the right of separation.”
Her status “apart” from Adolfo, her difference from him, is the central organizing tension of the
film’s narrative. The couple throughout the film vies for cinematic and narrative space, for power
of the domestic sphere and control over their sexual relationship. We shall see how Pietrangeli’s
Pina overturns the expectations of classical cinema’s portrayal of femininity as dependent upon
“woman’s lack, specularity, and diegetic containment, while associating man with potency,
vision, and diegetic exteriority.”223 Pina’s separation from Adolfo serves also as Pina’s separation
from our cinematic expectations for the femininity that she represents. Her qualities “in excess”
are key to Pietrangeli’s portrayal of Pina.
From the beginning of the film, Pina and Adolfo are seen vying for cinematic space and
control over the narrative. Their voice-over narration, in the form of letters exchanged, indicates
a dual auditory register of gendered voice throughout the film, a dual auditory regime accompanied by a dual scopic regime that manifests itself in the form of flashbacks indicating
the thoughts, memories, and the interior spaces of both Pina and Adolfo. “The flashback is the
most explicit and frequent signifier of the process of narration in a cinema which is, in general,
assumed to be narrator-less.”224 In this case, the process of narration is dual in origin, as the
170flashbacks originate specifically with either Pina or Adolfo and belong exclusively to the
memory of that individual. What is more, the flashbacks carve out autonomous psychological
space for each member of the couple. The flashback, therefore, does not “effectively erase the
subject of the enunciation,”225 in Pietrangeli’s use of the device, but instead creates a distinct
psychological and narrative space for each within the film, a space that often, for the spectator,
distinguishes truth from lie, reality from appearance. Both members of the couple control, to a
certain extent, the narrative direction of the film, overturning the traditional gendered binary
where Pina is reinserted into a pre-existing symbolic order, an order dominated by Adolfo’s
“potency, vision, and (diegetic) exteriority,” an order dependent upon her definition as lack. In
traditional, classical cinema, “the female voice is often shown to coexist with the female body
only at the price of its own impoverishment and entrapment.”226 In Pina’s case, however, this
trope is overturned in favor of Pietrangeli’s recuperation of Pina’s voice and Pina’s body as sites
of pleasure and of excess. The spectator, like the townsfolk in the film, derive satisfaction from
Pina’s ultimate treatment of Adolfo, as well as from her ample behind. In fact, la bella
culandrona, Pina’s local nickname, acts as a signifier of the excess that she represents within the
auditory and scopic cinematic regimes.
Despite Pina’s strong visual and auditory presence within the film structure, Giulio
Martini’s analysis of the film and of Pietrangeli’s work in general functions according to the
175same narrative assumptions that the film itself sought to overturn. Not only does Martini, without
offering any proof of his claim, state that Pietrangeli “does not take psychoanalysis into
consideration,” but he goes so far as to say that with these “sentimental descriptions,” Pietrangeli
is the “most subtle analyst of the unexpressed soul of Northern women because rather than have
them speak (how could he?), he sketches them… essentially mute about themselves, unable to
understand and explain themselves.”228 In spite of the sentimental register of Martini’s own
critical writing, and basing his analysis on traditional narrative assumptions about filmmaking,
Martini ignores Pina’s extraordinary, excessive qualities as filmic signifier.
This directorial need for “revenge” against a defective character is usually enacted at the peril of
the female protagonist, re-establishing male domination so that “psychoanalysis is used very
explicitly to reinforce the status quo of sexual difference.”233 In this case, however, Pietrangeli’s
manipulation in this scene of the mirror stage causes the co-mingling of gendered characteristics
of vision and control leading to a “masculinization” of Pina and a “feminization” of Adolfo,
diminishing sexual difference and throwing the classical narrative structure into tilt. While
Adolfo’s confession, solicited by Pina and reflecting his ego-image back to him, may not have
consequences within the diegetic space of the film, it does have consequences for the formal
register of the film. It issues into Pietrangeli’s structuring of Pina’s voice and image “in excess”
of classical cinema’s visual and sound regime, and in particular, in Pina’s going beyond the
traditional “happy ending” of marriage.234 Pina, in her “excessive” nature, surpasses traditional
narrative and narratological structures, defying the expectations of both spectators and critics and
resisting the relegation to silence.
LAST PARAGRAPH The film ends with a voice over, Pina’s narration of her summer. Throughout the film, her voice has been
the primary organizing tension and besides temporary narrative intrusions of Adolfo in the form
of flashback, Pina’s voice is the auditory regime that closes the diegetic narrative space. As both
return to their old lives, it is Pina’s voice that somehow goes beyond the space of the film as she
recounts her summer plans and the possibility of their correspondence being interrupted by her
vacation to the Adriatic sea. Not only does Pietrangeli’s film end with Pina’s disembodied voice,
but it ends with her controlling the extent of the couple’s communication as well. While this
ending cues the spectator to Pina’s narrative difference and dominance, there are clues to this
auditory control throughout the film.
Pietrangeli portrays Pina as capable of visual and auditory control over the cinematic space, a
control identifiable in her control and regulation of her domestic and cultural space within the
181town. As we have seen, the sheriff and the priest have nothing negative to say about her. Pina’s
capability, therefore, cannot but have adverse conclusions for the traditional narrative structure of
the film.
Pina’s vocal ability and her control over the visual regime of the film differ from classical
Hollywood cinematic femininity in numerous ways and thus have structural consequences for the
film. Here, there is no catharsis in the form of marriage, the happy ending par excellence of the
studio system. The characters are left alone and unresolved, Pina’s.
1STI PARAGRAPH In Pina, Pietrangeli creates a woman not bound, in the narrative diegesis, by masculine narration
but able to tell her own story, and dominate the cinematic audio-visual regimes. The film is
framed by her voice. P.182
” The central plot conflict in Pietrangeli’s film is
ultimately an existential one, a meditation on solitude and the difficult nature of human
connection. For this reason, Sandra Milo claims the film contains “melancholy,” a “bitterness,”
183“yet there is no desperation or pessimism.”241 Surrounded by her pets, her friends, her
community, Pina’s character demonstrates a richness that goes beyond the restricted sphere of the
monogamous couple, and Pietrangeli, with La visita, demonstrates that Pina’s excess may not yet
be compatible with our pre-established narrative assumptions. While the spectator may be used
to happy endings meaning marriage, in Pina’s case the happy ending may just mean being alone.
1ST PARAGRAPHOne way of getting
at their most subtle engagement with female identity is to look at their nuanced use of space. An analysis of the gendering of social and cinematic space in these
films reveals the extent to which it is through the use of space in particular that
Pietrangeli opens up zones of subtlety and sophistication in the representation of
female characters, affording them an independence and an agency so unusual for
Italian cinema at the time.
is in their refusal to envisage the country as a uniform, innocent point of departure.
By portraying women experiencing everything from sexual initiation to repression,
independence, and boredom in country spaces, these films represent the rural as a
complex, contradictory space and resist a way of gendering rural spaces based on
essentialist, idealized notions of femininity. The protagonists are not ideals, they are
diverse, complicated individuals, and the differences in their attitudes and experiences
towards the move from country to city space reflect the spectrum of individual
experiences underlying the wider, collective phenomenon of internal migration. P91
La visita shows the way in which her domestic space is subject to equally powerful
gendered codings. Domestic space is the centre of the action in La visita, as the vast
majority of the scenes take place in Pina’s home. Coming between the female urban
odysseys of La parmigiana and Io la conoscevo bene, this film seems far removed
from the fast-paced world of advertising, cinema, and parties experienced by Dora
and Adriana. Pina is in her late thirties and therefore represents a slightly older
generation than Pietrangeli’s other two protagonists, but nonetheless we see how
similar clashes between older values and a new desire for independence are part of
her experience. The film recounts Adolfo’s visit to Pina; the two have met via a
lonely-hearts advert which she placed in the newspaper and are meeting in person
to explore the possibility of marriage. La visita takes place over twenty-four hours,
but has the same temporal interweaving as the other two films, containing several
flashback sequences. Men are rarely positive figures in Pietrangeli’s films and Adolfo
reveals himself to be mean-spirited, stingy, controlling, and coarse. Kind-hearted,
warm, and generous Pina cannot ignore his faults and sacrifice her independence
through marrying him; at the end of the film nothing has changed; he returns to his
life and she carries on with hers. P.93
For Pietrangeli’s female characters, driving
scenes represent instead their freedom and autonomy. La visita and Io la conoscevo
bene both involve long sequences of car driving. When Pina leaves Adolfo at the
train station at the end of the film, she is filmed from behind, inside, and in front of
her car as she drives back to her home. The voiceover accompanying these shots
makes it clear that she will not marry him; her mobility in her car communicates
the freedom and independence which this choice ensures. P.97
sometimes demand, that they be. This is the key element of these films’ depiction of
profilmic spaces; the gap between fixed, traditional conceptions of women’s roles
in social spaces — be this the woman as innocent in the country, the woman as
sexually available in the city, the woman as wife and mother in the home, or the
woman as fetishized object on the cinema screen — and the complex, plural reality
of the protagonists’ experiences of these spaces. Ultimately, the women are defeated
by this gap between their aspirations for freedom and the attitudes of those around
them. However, the act of filming their tentative attempts at independence opens
up what Piera Detassis calls: ‘una sorta di zona franca — al di là dei ruoli e delle
definizioni — in cui le donne “narrate” di Pietrangeli cercano [. . .] una propria esistenza
e una propria storia’.47 This ‘zona franca’ is constructed through a cinematic
style which resists imposing the sort of fixed meaning on images of the women which
characterizes society’s attitudes to their permitted social roles. Through the interaction
of ‘objective’ camerawork, especially the use of long sequence shots, and the
‘subjective’ recreation of the female protagonists’ experiences, created through
point-of-view cinematography, Pietrangeli’s style literally leaves space for the complex
subjectivity of his female characters to emerge. The rejection of fixed, univocal
interpretations occurs across both profilmic and filmic spaces, creating complex and
contradictory portraits which in many ways reflect the reality of a society in the grip
of change which was happening in different ways and at different speeds for different
parts of the population. Pietrangeli was a lone voice in commedia all’italiana,
and arguably in Italian cinema more widely, to highlight the distance which had
opened up between both traditional and contemporary Italian society’s conception of
women, and their own desires for autonomy; and it is in his films’ use of space that
this distance is most profoundly articulated.p.106
It’s easy to look down on Adolfo and pity poor Pina, especially as flashbacks roll through the film, revealing her isolation and emotional need (only partially met by an affair, presented by without judgment or pity by Pietrangeli) and his discontent and underachieving resignation to life as a petty clerk. She’s liked by all in the village, who are protective of her, but she’s also apart from them.
But Pietrangeli and the actors reveal so much more of these characters as we watch them play out their tentative courtship, insights that humanize the sometimes bitter humor of what seems to be turning into a portrait of a very bad date. Finally they do have something in common: an isolation from their lives that they want to escape. Is it love they want, companionship, or merely a ticket out? The sensitivity with which Pietrangeli brings their awkward date to a reckoning and ends the evening with an honest exchange doesn’t offer any easy answers, but it does offer a bruised dignity and a bittersweet understanding between them, no longer caricatures but full-blooded characters grasping for happiness.
Faculty of Computing, Engineering and Sciences
Module Name:
Applied Mathematical Methods/
Engineering Maths with Applications
Module Number:
MATH40294 (CE61023-4)/
MATH50293 (CE62001-5)
Title of Assignment:
Assignment 2
Set by:
Martin Paisley/Brian Burrows
Module Learning Outcomes for This Assignment
Hand-in Details
ONE of the following three exercises should be completed using Maple
or Mupad. Your original worksheet and a pdf (created via File>Export As) should be submitted electronically via Blackboard by
3.30pm Thursday 22 January 2015.
You may choose from the following topics:
– Differential Equations
– Laplace Transforms
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Although we would not wish to discourage you from talking to other
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