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During the great war, Flora Bertuccioli, a diva no more young than the café-chantant on the avenue of sunset and at risk of being evicted from her house in Turin, received the offer to sing for the soldiers engaged at the front. On her arrival she is welcomed by the young soldier, Tonino, who along with three other soldiers composes the ramshackle orchestra charged with accompanying her songs. When she gets on the stage and realizes that his audience is made of young wounded and mutilated soldiers, she is assaulted by indignation and emotion: she refuses to sing the military march, she tears off the Tricolor and intones 'O surdato' nnammurato by Aniello Califano . The show, however, is interrupted by a bombing and everyone tries to save themselves. The next morning she and Tonino, climbed on the commander's car, believe they are now safe, but at that moment an enemy plane passes over them. She shields the young Tonino with his body and dies machine-gunned.
La Sciantosa is part of a project created by writer/director Alfredo Gianetti for the Italian TV. The objective was to portrait a hundred years of Italian history through three movies, all of them with Anna Magnani. The other two are "1943: un incontro" and "L'autmobile".
In this first movie, La Magnani is Flora Torres, a "sciantosa" (kind of a small stage diva) who is forgotten during the WWI, living only to remember her past glory. One day she receives a letter to present herself to the high command. There, Flora is called to go to the front and entertain the troops.
Along with her maid Cristina, Flora goes to the front. There they are welcomed by the young private Tonino (Massimo Ranieri). Flora starts to act like a prima donna, making absurd demands to everyone. But when she is about to present herself, the vision of the wounded soldiers makes her change her way.
I must admit that, although I love the movie until it's climax, I didn't like the very last scene. But this is a case where the journey is better than the destine. Especially if the journey is beside la Magnani.
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