The Italian Film Festival is on in Wellington at present and once again we are spoiled for choice. So many good movies to choose from. We chose Sea Purple.
Imagine. It is Sicily in the 19th century. Women were controlled by their menfolk. Girls were given in marriage to ‘suitable’ partners and had no say in the choice at all. Wives were at the beck and call of their husbands. A totally male dominated world.
Imagine still more – a house made of turf at the top of a cliff and a scandal hidden from the villagers but an open secret.
The main female protagonist is Angela who refuses to conform and even when her tyrannical father promises her to one of the boys in the village she really rebels and tells him that she will not marry the man. She wants to marry Sara her soul mate and lover. Can you imagine the tyrants response to that. He throws her into a dungeon and leaves her there in the belief that she will change her mind.
I don’t want to give away the whole story but will tell you that she is eventually rescued by her down-trodden mother who convinces the parish priest to change her daughter’s name and gender in the parish register. The story is that a mistake was made at the time of registering the birth.
So Angela becomes Angelo and takes over from his father as manager of the mines. Unlikely in today’s world but it could possibly happen in the backward villages in Sicily in the 19th century (but I am happy to be put right by anybody who reads this).
The two lovers are married and set up home in the house made of turf at the top of the cliff. Disaster overtakes them when they decide they want a child. No IVF then so this child had to be conceived in the time-honoured way. The mother of the child eventually dies leaving the other with the baby and leaving us with unanswered questions such as
- Did the men of the village really accept that Angelo was a man – there is a scene of somebody attempting to rape Angela/Angelo presumably because he didn’t believe that a mistake had been made at the time of registering the birth.
- Why did Angelo revert to Angela and turn up to the christening in a dress?
- Did the village accept this reversion?
- Who now would run the mines seeing as Angelo has become Angela?
- Did the wife of the father of the child know of his part in this further scandal?
This is an intense and scandalous love story, with great scenes of raw beauty of the village in Sicily. I was left feeling that some people have to make their lives in the most inhospitable parts of this world. And people survive amidst this landscape. They also survive under tyrannical rulers as shown here.
Another movie well worth seeing if it comes your way.