The Eye of INA: Monica Vitti, the two faces of the queen of Italian cinema

The actress told herself in 1994 in the documentary Dolce Vitti by Emmanuel Barnault proposed by Madelen in tribute to the star who died this week.

Monica Vitti is one of those cinema legends whose name we know, but in most cases no more. And yet, she was, in her time, one of the most famous actresses in the world. In the 60s and 70s, it was thus considered as “the queen of Italian cinema», the equal of Brigitte Bardot in France.

She began at 15 playing a forty-year-old in a play by Feydeau. The reception of a surprised public, is then so enthusiastic that she swears that she will work until her 90 springs. She crossed the threshold of this age that is said to be canonical, but Alzheimer’s disease, the first signs of which appeared 25 years ago, prevented her from keeping her promise. Before leaving the trays for good, she told herself in an interview that had become the red thread of Dolce Vittia documentary made in 1994 by Emmanuel Barnault, proposed by Madelen in tribute to the star who died this week.

Originally, his goal was to play in the theater classics by Molière, Ionesco or Shakespeare. She absolutely did not imagine herself as a movie star. In 1957, his meeting with Michelangelo Antonioni changed the game. The director, whose life she was to share for ten years, entrusted her with the leading role of The adventure. Overnight, she becomes the muse of an intellectual cinema. In the years that followed, it was directed, among others, by Joseph Losey and Ettore Scola. She thus gives the reply to Marcello Mastroianni, Alain Delon, Richard Harris, Terence Stamp, Dirk Bogarde and a few others.

In reality, the dark side she displays on screen is only an appearance. As a teenager, she chose to fight her suicidal impulses with laughter. She has thus become a joyful woman, endowed with a real spirit of repartee. When on the occasion of their first meeting Antonioni says to him, “you have a nice neck“, she replies immediately, “then, you will film me from behind!“.

The turning point came in 1968 with The girl with the gun by Mario Monicelli, where she displays a delirious hairstyle. Nominated for the Oscar for best foreign language film, this comedy allows the actress to show that she can also make people laugh. In particular, she demonstrates it brilliantly in me the woman of Dino Risi, a sketch film where she plays 12 different characters. She then became the first Italian actress to switch, quite naturally, from one genre to another. Its popularity crosses the border. In France, at the end of the 1960s, we salute the “burlesque genius of a woman with two faces“. Not very eloquent in the face of journalists, she is, on the other hand, inexhaustible when it comes to defending the condition of women. Some consider her a pioneer of feminism.

Director Roberto Russo, her companion since 1967, watched over her until the last moments. Last year, he gave the green light to a tribute from the city of Rome to one of its most illustrious citizens. On November 3, the day of his 90th birthday, a drawing of his face in black and white was simultaneously projected on the walls of several districts of the city. Just below it was written “Monica, our love “. It could hardly be simpler, more tender and more sincere.

The Eclipse (The splint ) by Michelangelo Antonioni, in 1962, with Monica Vitti, Alain Delon, Francisco Rabal…


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *