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“Una giornata particolare” (“A Special Day”)
-directed by Ettore Scola, 1977
It is very rare that one can say of a movie that it has been written, designed, directed, acted, lit, shot, and edited in a manner so extraordinarily harmonious, elegant, and flawlessly appropriate that it is an immensely rewarding and satisfying sum of its parts. “Una giornata particolare” is, in my opinion, one of the greatest achievements in the history of Italian cinema – and that is, I know, saying a lot. Please watch it.
Excerpted from Gwendolyn Audrey Foster’s piece for Cinematèque Annotations on Film, 2017:
Ettore Scola had a prodigious career as a writer and director; Scola is one of the most influential and important Italian cineastes, with a career spanning more than half a century, from his first credit work as a screenwriter on Sergio Grieco’s “Fermi tutti… arrivo io!” (1953) to his final film as a writer/director, “Che strano chiamarsi Federico” (How Strange to Be Named Federico, 2013) before his death at the age of 84 on 19 January 2016.
In all, Scola was responsible for some 87 screenplay or writing credits on both his own films and those of other directors, including the script for Dino Risi’s memorably acidic comedy / tragedy “Il Sorpasso” (1962). As a director, he has at least 42 credits, both short films and features, starting with “Se permettete parliamo di donne” (Let’s Talk About Women, 1964), but without a doubt, his relatively late film “Una giornata particolare” (A Special Day, 1977) is one of his most transcendent and trenchant films.
In many ways… this intentionally modest but deeply moving film is a high watermark for all involved; for Mastroianni in his deft portrayal of the tortured Gabriele, Loren for her entirely convincing turn as the drab housewife Antonietta, and for Scola as both director and co-scenarist. The brilliant Ettore Scola is to be credited for his feminist critique of women under fascism, his modern understated treatment of homosexuality, and his successful examination of fascist politics – through the lens of a seemingly simple, human story that turns into an allegorical tale of immense significance. “A Special Day” reminds us that the human spirit can prevail even under the most totalitarian regimes. It is a timely reminder that all fascism must be resisted with vigilance, sacrifice, and bravery.
Directed by Ettore Scola
Story and Screenplay by Ruggero Maccari and Ettore Scola
In collaboration with Maurizio Costanzo
Produced by Carlo Ponti
Music, Armando Trovajoli
Director of Photography, Pasqualino De Santis
Editor, Raimondo Crociani
A coproduction of Canafox Films (Montreal) and Comp. Cin. Champion S.P.A. (Rome)
Running time: 110 minutes
Antonietta . . . . . Sophia Loren
Gabriele . . . . . Marcello Mastroianni
Emanuele . . . . . John Vernon
Cecilia the caretaker . . . . . Françoise Berd
Figlia Del Cavaliere . . . . . Nicole Magny
Romana . . . . . Patrizia Basso
Arnaldo . . . . . Tiziano De Persio
Fabio . . . . . Maurizio Di Paolantonio
Littorio . . . . . Antonio Garibaldi
Umberto . . . . . Vittorio Guerrieri
Maria Luisa . . . . . Alessandra Mussolini
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