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Swept Away [Blu-ray]
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Set against the backdrop of the beautiful Mediterranean, Swept Away (1974) is Lina Wertmu ller's most famous and controversial film about sex, love and politics. On an elegant yacht cruising off the coast of Sardinia, Raffaella (Mariangela Melato), a rich and stunning capitalist, enjoys tormenting Gennarino (Giancarlo Giannini), a Communist sailor. Fate weaves a different scenario and roles become reversed when the two find themselves stranded together on a deserted island. Raffaella must submit to Gennarino in order to survive, which culminates in a dramatic climax when they are rescued. They must determine if their love can survive the harsh realities of civilization.
Special Features: Audio Commentary by Valerio Ruiz, director of Behind the White Glasses | Booklet essays by director Allison Anders and Grace Russo Bullaro, author of Man in Disorder: The Cinema of Lina Wertmu ller in the 1970s | Excerpt from Behind the White Glasses, a documentary on Lina Wertmu ller | Interview with director Amy Heckerling | Trailers
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Gennarino is able to provide food and shelter and, borrowing from “The Taming of the Shrew,” he determines to transform Raffaella into a submissive dependent. The film shows how the roles of the two stranded people are reversed, with Gennarino clearly possessing the upper hand. When money and material possessions are not in the equation, Raffaella’s sense of entitlement erodes.
Wertmuller presents a socio-political statement in the trappings of a deliberately unsettling romantic comedy. In the process of telling her story, the director actually upends the genre to make a larger point. She manages this without abandoning humor. The film is very funny, with Gennnarino lording it over Raffaella as revenge on her whole class, one he views as parasitic. She’s not only condescending and over-privileged, she’s downright nasty. Some of his treatment of Raffaella is sadistic; he hits her and slaps her around, which registers as strongly today as it probably did in 1974. At the end of the film, it’s interesting to ponder who is manipulating whom.
Bonus materials on the unrated, widescreen Blu-ray release include audio commentary; booklet essays; excerpts from “Behind the White Glasses,” a documentary on Lina Wertmuller; interview with director Amy Heckerling; and trailers.
As many who have enjoyed this movie are aware, its first American home video release was on VHS tape from what
was then RCA/Columbia Pictures Home Video. That release had an expertly conceived and executed English-dubbed soundtrack. Whoever were the two English-speaking dubbing actors voicing the Giannini and Melato roles, they made this spectacular political black comedy a true cinematic delight for American and English-speaking viewers. And hilarious! While they were stranded on that island the English dialogue during at least two scenes had me in hysterical laughing fits. It was that horrid scene with the rabbit that I had to F.FWD past.
As far as I could tell from the VHS tape, the sound quality of the English-dubbed track was at least serviceable.
Again, the casting of the dubbing actors was perfect. The dimensionality they give to Wertmuller’s intelligent, witty
and incisive dialogue really draws you in. I know this because long ago I managed to find a copy of that VHS tape
at a local library and duped it for my collection.
It’s very sad that, for whatever reason, collectors have again lost the opportunity to own a restored version of this brilliant political comedy, mastered using the original audio mags of this superb English dubbed soundtrack. I was at least expecting Kino to reply to my inquiry. That never happened. But search "swept away dubbed" at youtube.com for a taste of what we all could have owned, and probably along with way better sound quality. Enjoy!
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