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6. The Basilisks (I basilischi); movie review

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Title : 6. The Basilisks (I basilischi); movie review
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Cert TBA
85 mins
BBFC advice: TBA

I haven't spent enough time in Italy but I vow that over the next few years Mrs W and I will rectify that.
Why? Because its people have a wonderful combination of style and passion.
This was superbly reflected by the great Federico Fellini and here, with her film The Basilisks, the baton was carried forward by his assistant, Lina Wertmüller.
This is a relatively short movie set in a small town in Southern Italy in 1963.
Here the people may face grinding poverty but the last bastion of dignity is their appearance.
For example, its three main players Antonio (Antonio Petruzzi), Francesco (Stefano Satta Flores) and Sergio (Sergio Ferranino) are unemployed but always wear a smart shirt and tie.
Indeed, the only time I can recall any of them being without an accompanying jacket is when Sergio takes an afternoon siesta.
The young men have a lot to say for themselves and have high hopes of attracting the most attractive girls in town but they are all talk and very little action.
Indeed, even they would not be able to explain why they lack the gumption to find work and impress.
Nevertheless, The Basilisks is never dull because it delves so deeply into the psyche of small-town Italy and the traditions which must be upheld.
It may be surprising for us Brits to witness the power of the patriarch who decides the future of his children down to who they will marry.
It is also surprising that during my lifetime courtship in a European country is such a delicate matter even after the girls have agreed to it.
Politics and religion are a significant part of the daily ritual, as is money (or the lack of it) and how outsiders are treated.
Wertmüller is expert at drilling into each of these areas and creating a near-documentary feel to a movie which lasts less than 90 minutes.
She is aided in evoking atmosphere by a subtle score from a young Ennio Morricone and by a restoration which looks terrific.
It may start slowly but the Basilisks provides a visual feast for those willing to hang around.

Reasons to watch: Italian classic
Reasons to avoid: Not big on action

Laughs: None
Jumps: None
Vomit: None
Nudity: None
Overall rating: 8/10

Did you know? 
A socialist trailblazer, Lina Wertmüller began her career as an assistant to Fellini, whose influence permeates her debut.

The final word. Lina Wertmüller: “Because I have been able to be myself, I’ve been able to make the kind of films that I did,” she said. “When this could happen, and somebody didn’t want to support one of [my] ideas, I would move on and go to another producer or go find another way to make the film.” LA Times

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