A lot of emotion, the applause of the crowd, at the entrance and exit of the coffin, the homages of friends such as Giancarlo Giannini and Caterina D’Amico, but also the humor of the director, evoked with the story of anecdotes on the set by the nephew Massimo Wertmuller and Rita Pavone.
These are among the traits that outlined the funeral, at the Church of the Artists in Rome, of Lina Wertmuller, the great filmmaker who died on December 9, in the capital, at the age of 93. A final farewell which was also attended, among others, by Giuliana De Sio, Domenico De Masi, Yari Gugliucci (who considered the director as a second mother), Marina Cicogna (“We made films such as Mimì metallurgico and Storia d’amore together. and anarchy. She has always been in my life – said the producer to ANSA -. She was one of the funniest, lightest, most intelligent, most pleasant people I have ever met “), Cinzia Th Torrini, Elisabetta Villaggio, daughter of Paolo, Leopoldo Mastelloni, Duilio Giammaria. The director’s adopted daughter, Maria Zulima Job, visibly moved, arrived holding hands with her partner Alessandro and surrounded by family and closest friends.
“Lina was a free artist, she carried forward her vision of the world and of things. She kept the soul of a scugnizza, a rebellious child, with her talent and curiosity for her whole life”, he stressed in the homily Don Walter Insero, rector of the Church of the Artists and a personal friend of the filmmaker. Among the many successes of the director, the monsignor also recalled one little known: “She was with Sergio Corbucci the Roman Boogie-woogie champion in the 50s … she communicated joy of living”. Insero met her 10 years ago: “I saw a simple and sincerely humble woman. She didn’t pay attention to awards, she welcomed them. She always wanted to tell ordinary people” and she put herself “on the side of the humble”. Life, “he told me, lasts half an hour we cannot waste it crying on ourselves, it must be lived in love”. A personality that the rector of the Church of Artists summarized in the sentence with which Fellini’s Otto e mezzo closes and the filmmaker’s autobiography opens: “Life is a party, let’s live it together”. After the mass, it was her friend Domenico De Masi who introduced the homages of Caterina D’Amico (who also shared with her the period of Lina Wertmuller as extraordinary commissioner at the Experimental Center of Cinematography, from 1988 to 1993, in which she unhinged “by combining anarchy and discipline”, the rigidity of “an institution that at the time seemed a branch of the INPS”); Antonio Petruzzi, actor in Lina Wertmuller’s first film, The Basilisks; Giancarlo Giannini, Rita Pavone and Massimo Wertmuller. “On the one hand, I cry for my aunt, who takes away all my beautiful family memories. Then we cry for the genius I was lucky enough to have in the house”, underlined the director’s nephew, who also recalled the decisive way and the sometimes colorful language used by the filmmaker on the set. “I, dear Lina, would have liked to have even had a single cell with a white eyeglass, it did not happen like this. Today a chasm opens for me and Maria that will not be filled”.
Giancarlo Giannini recalled a 60-year long friendship: “I made my best films with her, she forged me, I was her pose, without her I would have continued to be an electronic expert” explained the actor, on the presbytery holding a moved Rita Pavone close. At the end of his speech also the lines of a poem loved by the director, The Drop, “which I want to read as a gift from his great love Enrico Job”. Rita Pavone called Lina Wertmuller “my artistic mom. She led me to do things I never thought I could. She was bubbly and bubbly with a character I adored.”
LINA WERTMULLER, A REVOLUTIONARY BEYOND GENRES – Those white glasses, which have become a symbol and an icon over time, no longer conceal the mischievous and pungent shine of the woman and the artist who for decades has brought together an image of Italy applauded and loved all over the world. Lina Wertmüller is no longer there, but we could bet that right now, somewhere else, she is laughing at her latest joke on fate: death did not frighten her: “The years are there and you can feel them – she said little a while ago – but working I had fun all my life and it’s not cheap “. To understand the secret of this artist with an iron will, an inexhaustible talent, a small physique and a big heart, it is perhaps necessary to go back a long way, to the origins of her career.
Since she was a young girl she has the fire of the show in her veins, she discovers the theater betraying the expectations of her family, but she focuses on three different languages: the puppets (she has the gift of giving a soul to each), the radio (where she composes a brilliant partnership with Matteo Spinola, later the elegant prince of film promotion), the cinema of the Fellini school (the great Rimini will be his mentor on his debut in directing). In addition, she has in her baggage two exceptional masters such as Garinei & Giovannini who will bring her on TV for a successful edition of “Canzonissima”. In this melting pot of experiences an original talent is being formed and, paradoxically, without a single artistic lineage.
Lina’s is an unscrupulous language, ahead of its time, capable of taking comedy on the paths of the absurd and, at the same time, of remaining tied to the reality of a country that changes and discovers the prosperity of the boom. Her debut with “I basilischi” (1963) is an explicit homage to Fellini’s “I vitelloni” but, right from the setting in a South well known to her (the film was shot mostly in Palazzo San Gervasio in the Potentine from where his family came), speaks of another Italy, sunny and disenchanted which will often return in his narration of the world. It is no coincidence that the motivation for the career Oscar that in 2020 confirmed the international prestige that the Academy attributed to her since the nomination as best director (the first woman ever to get Hollywood attention in 1977 for “Pasqualino settebellezze”) reads : “for his provocative disruption of political and social rules with courage through his favorite weapon: the camera”.
Today he leaves us 23 films, some of which are milestones of costume (“Metallurgical Mimì …”, “Overwhelmed by an unusual destiny …”) and others perfect embodiment of a colorful and attractive idea of Italy (“Sabato, Sunday and Monday “and the partnership with the beloved friend Sophia Loren). But the most original trait is the unscrupulous freedom of his choices: he made his debut with auteur cinema, but immediately afterwards he had no qualms about trying himself (under a pseudonym) with the spaghetti western (“My body for a poker” with Elsa Martinelli) to make producers understand that directing is also a woman’s profession; he discovers the histrionic vein of Rita Pavone, tests it in a couple of “musicarelli” and then exalts it in the memorable “Giornalino di Gianburrasca” shot for television between 1964 and 1965.
Achieved success in the golden decade of the 70s, it turns again towards the surreal tale (“The end of the world in our usual bed”, 1978); he dedicates himself to Naples and its favorite culture, but his great return is in agreement with the Genoese Paolo Villaggio for “I hope that I can manage” (1992). Disgusted by the inattention of traditional distribution, she embraces the television story again on the threshold of the 2000s, but after the David di Donatello Lifetime Achievement in 2010 she gives up her arms and retires into a dignified silence. A real shame because his verve is alive until the last day and from his game bag he could have extracted other jewels.
“I have always had a strong character, since I was a child – said Lina Wertmueller -. I was even expelled from eleven schools and I have always been in charge on the set”.