Maria Luisa Ceciarelli, otherwise known as Monica Vitti, was an undisputed icon of Italian cinema, from Michelangelo Antonioni’s films on incommunicability to “Italian comedy.” She also starred in international titles directed by Losey, Jancsó, Buñuel. A busy actress and diva between film, theatre and television, she has received numerous awards including two “Nastri d’argento”, six “David di Donatello” and a “Leone d’oro alla carrier”.
Monica Vitti was gigantic. There is nothing that she did not do marvellously well. Huge in the theatre, extraordinary in embodying the neuroses of contemporary man in Antonioni’s cinema, a female ace of laughter in film and television. She helped break age-old taboos, complicit in the Italian-style comedy of which she was the only female star. She dictated the style of an era by making us laugh, cry and think.
«I could see that Monica, although she made films with Antonioni, with silent film characters, mysterious, old-fashioned, in life she was lively, funny, full of humour. She was cheerful and I watched her. And I said to myself: how come? This is a talented actress, a beautiful girl, why can’t she do a humorous, comic character? »– Mario Monicelli
Monica Vitti was a goddess of great humanity, capable of understanding women and giving shape to their thousand facets and anxieties, to their courage. By inventing an innovative and totally spontaneous style, she overturned not only the canons of cinema, but also the stereotyped canons of beauty of the time.
Monica Vitti was a goddess of great humanity, capable of understanding women and giving shape to their thousand facets and anxieties, to their courage. Inventing an innovative and totally spontaneous style, she overturned not only the canons of cinema, but also the stereotyped canons of beauty of the time.
Among the many tributes that have followed to honour her memory, Cristina Borsatti published for the first time in 2005: a biography – already supervised and authorised by the artist – that traces her life through films, theatre plays and television participations with the title – Monica Vitti – and is a pure tribute to the actress, performer and author. It is a contribution in honour of a long and more than satisfying career, full of successes but above all of gambles, firsts and innovations that have left their mark on the habits and customs of an Italy in full transformation.
In the book there is a more narrative part that gives voice to the biographical tale proper, but Borsatti, who is a film journalist and writer, also recalls all her heroines, interpreted with unsurpassed mimetic transformism and a completely unprecedented ability to pass from drama to comedy, from tragedy to farce. In addition, it is enriched by a booklet of beautiful colour and black and white images (a selection of posed portraits, scene snapshots, backstage shots) and interspersed with four interviews with four ‘illustrious men’ who worked with Monica Vitti at crucial moments of her career (Mario Monicelli, Dino Risi, Ettore Scola, Franco Giraldi). There is also talk of love – starting with her important relationship with Michelangelo Antonioni, whose companion and muse she was at the same time – but Borsatti’s book does not get lost in gossip.
Since the aim of this biography, the goal of its ambition, is to succeed in condensing the enormity of the artist’s contribution to the history of Italian cinema into just under three hundred pages, highlighting her mastery in being practically every possible woman, every ‘new’ woman in a rapidly changing society such as that of Italy from the 1950s to the 1980s.
The writer’s praise insists above all on the interpreter’s ability to have been the emblem of the cinema of incommunicability, but also the only true female equivalent of the so-called ‘mattatori’ and ‘colonel’ actors of Italian comedy (Vittorio Gassman, Marcello Mastroianni, Ugo Tognazzi, Giancarlo Giannini, not to mention Alberto Sordi, her partner par excellence): a truly chameleonic actress, capable of arousing tears and laughter, of seducing and playing with her unconventional beauty, of transforming her supposed flaws (above all: her low, hoarse voice) into strengths and attractions.
In this volume, one admires the description of that preciousness that was already on the surface and, as Borsatti writes, all that remains is a roar of applause and with it the final, yearning desire for an impossible encore.