Sophia Loren in a performance admired the world over
One of De Sica and Zavattini’s great masterpieces, with comedy, drama, tragedy and realism
After a long silence following the failure of Tetto, Vittorio De Sica and Cesare Zavattini bounced back with a film that has become part of Italian cinema history. Based on the novel by Alberto Moravia, La Ciociara is an astounding mix of comedy, drama, tragedy and realism. The story is told with great naturalness, reflecting history without making short-lived ideological statements, and instead allowing the focus to stay on the experience of the personal drama. Perhaps that is the secret of the film’s success and its long-lasting influence. But more than anything, the film belongs to Sophia Loren, beautiful as always, but also able to bring a formidabile range of nuance to her character. She is seductive, angry, sweet, protective, desperate… and much much more, such is the richness of her performance.
During World War II, Cesira, a courageous and tough widow, leaves Rome with her daughter to take shelter in her hometown in the Ciociaria region. She attracts the attention of Michele, a young tormented intellectual. Cesira decides to return to Rome, but along the way both mother and daughter are raped by a group of Moroccan soldiers. The daughter reacts to these traumatic events by becoming silent and unresponsive. It is only when they learn of another tragedy, the death of Michele, that the two become close again, reunited in tearful embrace.