20 YEARS AGO THE ITALIAN FILM DIRECTOR MARCO FERRERI DIED. HI HERITAGE IN FILM HISTORY IS NOT SO CLEAR TODAY, BECAUSE IT IS MOST KNOW BY MOVIE CRITICS AND ACADEMICS, LESS BY SIMPLE AUDIENCE. ALSO, HIS MOVIES WERE FREQUENTLY CENSORED AND HAD A BAD AND DIFFICULT DISTRIBUTION. HE WAS NOT AN AUTHOR OF CLASSICAL ITALIAN COMEDY, NOR OF A SPECIFIC GENRE. HE WAS A UNIQUE CHARACTER, AN ORIGINAL DIRECTOR AND SCREENWRITER, WHO STARTED WORKING IN SPAIN AND WAS SUCCESSFUL IN FRANCE.
Here we would like to talk about one of the main aspects of his cinema, which is the relationship of man with the consumer society. From the 1960’s, Ferreri was a pitiless analyzer of male in the modern Western world. He focused on his limits and weaknesses. His first Italian movie, L’ape Regina (The queen bee), filmed in 1963, showed already a male role who lost all his power and supremacy in the couple: man, once he contributed with his semen to fecundation, has no more function.
He becomes a clueless and worthless being. Therefore, he starts focusing, in an obsessive and pathological way, to objects: he thinks he can handle them because they are inanimate, but it turns to be a big illusion. Break Up was filmed in 1965 but released in Italy in a complete version only in 1979. The main character is played by Marcello Mastroianni and he is totally obsessed by balloons, which he tries to inflate just a moment before they blow up. But every try turns to be unsuccessful. Totally frustrated, this alienated man ends up committing suicide. He jumps from his balcony and falls on a car, smashing it. The car’s owner is played by an excellent (as usual) Ugo Tognazzi, who acts the part of a cynical, numb and schizoid bourgeois, who only cares of his damaged vehicle.
Ferreri and his recurring co-screenwriter Rafael Azcona had figured all this out fifty years ago. Insanity and uselessness of male in couple and in society were also central in The Last Woman, released in 1976. According to Ferreri, this was the film were his point of view about that topic reached its peak. The main character is played here by Gérard Depardieu. He lives in the newborn anonymous suburb of Créteil, in France, with his wife. Since she gave birth to a boy, her man has no more functions or sense. The little boy is the only male element she give attentions to, leading the man to the extreme gesture of neutering.
There are only few ways to escape to this miserable end. One is again to give affection and attention to objects, as Christopher Lambert’s character does in I Love You (1986). But objects can have no affection or expression, so they can show no love or interest for anyone in particular (not yet, at least). Another way could be to find and move to a desert island and hide oneself away (Liza, 1972). Or to literally feed on a woman, cutting her into pieces and ingurgitating her (The Flesh, 1991). But none of these would be an ideal and definitive solution.
There is no hope, and the end of man is inevitable. He lost his centrality and his primordial sense. The future is Woman, as a 1984 Ferreri’s film is entitled. And he was right. Today, speaking of Artificial and alternative ways of insemination is something common and definitely involves the future of our species. It would have been interesting to find out how Ferreri would have been treating that topic.