MALAMORE a film by Eriprando Visconti
While thousands are being maimed and killed in the slaughter of the First World War, Italian and Austrian cannons fire less than a mile away, a sleepy little town in the "Veneto" region of Northern Italy carries on life behind the front. The able-bodied men have been called up long ago; only the elderly, the blind, crippled and deformed are left out of the conflict. The villa of the rich landowner Giammarco has been converted into an emergency field hospital to care for the wounded. Giammarco's son Marcello, a dwarf, has been exempted from military service and busies himself about the hospital with his best friend a handsome, unscrupulous opportunist named Cesare. Marcello is rich, sensitive and oppressed by his deformity. Hoping to profit somehow, Cesare introduces Marcello to the local brothel and particular to the bordello beauty, Maria. Although too shy to do more than shake hands with the girls, Marcello soon falls in love with Maria not realising that she is in love with Cesare. He becomes a regular at the house paying for companionship. Marcello's father is killed in an Austrian bombardment and the Austrians requisition the house. Marcello moves into a spore room in the brothel, where he becomes a recluse. Unable to bring himself to make love to Maria and show her his misshapen body, he forms an ambiguous relationship with a female dwarf the Madam of the house has brought in especially for him. Maria secretly shows Cesare an emerald necklace that Marcello has given her. He concocts a plan to murder Marcello and get hold of the fortune hidden in the villa, with the help of two incapacitated soldiers, a blind man and a cripple, who see in riches a way to return to society after the war. Meanwhile the Italians are forced to retreat and the little hospital is evacuated with the Austrians' arrival. Cesare finds refuge in the brothel, aided by Maria and the other girls and protected by the blind man's papers. With his two accomplices, one blind and the other without an arm, he schemes to eliminate Marcello. Maria opposes her lover's murderous plans and warns Marcello of the danger, but he refuses to leave without her. The night is pitch black when they come at Marcello with a huge club, just like the one Maria has foreseen in a tarot reading. Marcello leaps in his car. He escapes but in the course of the panic flight runs over Maria. The Austrians arrive and discovering Cesare is not really blind, execute him before the firing squad. Peace eventually returns to the little town, as it must. It is the beginning of the Twenties and the bordello (now owned by Marcello) has the modern new look of the flapper era. Marcello is an assiduous visitor at Maria's bedside, where she has remained since the accident, her legs paralysed and shrivelled.
|PRODUCTION||ARCANA FILM PRODUCTIONS|