Sophia Loren and Italian Cinema Essay Example
Sophia Loren and Italian Cinema Essay Example

Sophia Loren and Italian Cinema Essay Example

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  • Pages: 5 (1175 words)
  • Published: December 11, 2017
  • Type: Essay
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"Pizza on Credit" analyzes Italy's historical perception of its own beauty, encompassing ancient architecture, timeless art, and picturesque landscapes.

For centuries, Italy has been renowned for its exceptional art and aesthetics, as well as its beautiful women. In the 17th century, young aristocrats visited Italy to discover their European cultural heritage. During the Renaissance period, Italy's attraction was even greater due to its traditional and captivating customs. As a result of this widespread recognition, conquerors found the peninsula increasingly alluring.

Italy achieved unification in March of 1861 following their release from the control of the Napoleonic era. The Resurgence period that followed brought about a quest for a national identity. Under the largest, stronger rule that previously controlled them, Italy's only experience had been one of divided independence. Now free, the community sought a characteri


stic they could all adopt. They found it in women. Italian women quickly became an emblem of national identity due to their distinctive exoticness and traditional domesticity. From Queen Margherita to renowned celebrities like Gina Lollobrigida and Sophia Loren, women of all classes represented the nation proudly.

Throughout the late 19th century and into the current decade, the ideal of women being seen as the embodiment of the nation progressed. Even during fascist regimes, where gender hierarchy was enforced, women were expected to maintain an image of pure, holistic fascist womanhood without actual societal obligations. Professor Nira Yuval-Davis' book Gender & Nation states that "Girls did not need to act: they had to become the national embodiment" (Yuval-Davis 45).

During fascist times, women were not given any real responsibilities and their only expectation was to conform to the fascist ideals. They were seen more

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as an image than a real person. However, it was paradoxical because their presence was essential in establishing a sense of identity. Rural Italian women were viewed as the embodiment of national virtues, as they had not yet been affected by modernization. Their beauty was expressed through their spirit, which in turn provided a spirit for the whole nation. Women were expected to maintain their home for their families and to satisfy male enjoyment, according to Gundle.

During the 1940s, Italian society was dominated by men, who viewed women as mere symbols. This perception was reinforced by the Italian film industry of that time. However, following the Cold War and the decline of American cinema, Italian cinema experienced a revival. Despite not conforming to traditional beauty standards, many actresses of this era still conveyed a sense of obedience and restraint.

Italian actresses such as Maria Denis and Alida Valli epitomized the common physical attributes of dark and exotic features that defined Italian women. However, they were distinct from the more prevalent blonde bombshell image of American culture. In the 1950s, Italian cinema presented a divergent portrayal of Italian women. Following World War II, Italy underwent a period of reconstruction to recover from the shame and guilt of their defeat and absence of Fascism within their culture. This led to a transformation across all aspects of Italian life in an attempt to reconstruct their reputation. Post-war cinema aimed to break away from the once-dominant fascist command and depict a novel perspective on female beauty while still reflecting the national identity.

This era embraced the American notion of sexual attractiveness for actresses, with women moving away from conventional

modest beauty to embody full-bodied and passionate celebrities. These defining features symbolised wealth and fecundity. Undoubtedly, the most universally recognised Italian actress of this period is the stunning Sophia Loren.

Throughout her career, Sophia Loren has become a highly skilled and esteemed actress, earning countless accolades and recognition as the most iconic Italian actress to date. Despite possessing not only stunning beauty and sexual appeal, Loren also displayed her impressive acting abilities in a range of roles. While her career progressed towards more dramatic parts, Loren still played the desirable female character during the period of reconstruction. In the film The Gold of Naples, specifically the episode “Pizza on Credit,” directed by Vittorio De Sica, Loren seductively portrayed a pizza maker in the heart of Naples alongside her husband. The draw of their pizza stand was not only the option to pay later, but also the added bonus of being served by the busty and alluring Sophia.

During the episode, Loren received admiration from many men in the community which made her husband distant. She portrayed a character that deviated from the traditional expected traits of modesty and propriety of earlier female characters in the film industry. Loren's character exuded confidence, attractiveness, and desirability, traits that were different from what Italian actresses usually displayed. Her way of dressing, speaking, and walking showed her complete control over her persona.

Despite her disheveled appearance - with messy hair, a falling blouse, and a stained apron - Sophia exuded an air of composure and control. Every action and utterance was purposeful and carefully crafted to assert her dominance, proving that women could hold their own in a male-dominated society. This was

a pivotal moment in the evolution of female empowerment, as women were still upheld as symbols of national identity, but now they knew how to use that role to their advantage.

Although the plot of the episode was insignificant, its dilemma revolved around the fact that Loren had engaged in sexual activity with another man. This concept was alien to a society that had focused on the oral abilities of its women. Sophia Loren's portrayal introduced a new type of femininity, an independent and self-sufficient woman who could use her appeal to men to her advantage. As Gundle states, "These actresses rejuvenated Italy's association with feminine beauty at a time when the country needed a new friendly image and fresh symbols to show the world" (Gundle 169). The reformation enhanced the trust in Italian women, who continued to personify the country's identity, but with revamped image ideals. In "Pizza on Credit," Loren represents the ideals of a modern woman and moves beyond traditional beliefs.

Italian cinema underwent a transformation that enabled actresses to express themselves creatively and represent contemporary female ideals. "Pizza on Credit" embodies the enhanced strength and power of Italian women, with Sophia Loren perfectly encapsulating the Italian image. Despite evolving over the years, the "Bella Italiana" remains a cultural staple. Actresses not only entertained but also provided a glimpse into different eras through their films.

As ideals shifted over time, so did the portrayal of Italian women in films, offering insight into their lives. Regardless of the historical period depicted, these films aimed to embody the Italian archetype. Although I found the film somewhat silly, I recognized the importance of actresses in shaping the country's

well-being. Italy is undeniably a beautiful country, with a complex history full of challenges and triumphs.

Italy was given the chance to showcase not only its beautiful women, but also its ability to maintain an identity, thanks to figures like Sophia Loren. She demonstrated that a woman can earn respect without being submissive, ultimately inspiring many actresses to follow in her footsteps.

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