Italian theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Lina Wertmüller|
|Written by||Lina Wertmüller|
|Music by||Nando de Luca e Enzo Jannacci|
|Cinematography||Tonino Delli Colli|
|Edited by||Franco Fraticelli|
|Distributed by||Medusa Distribuzione|
Written by Wertmüller, the film is about an Italian everyman who deserts the army during World War II and is then captured by the Germans and sent to a prison camp, where he does anything to survive. Through flashbacks, we learn about his family of seven unattractive sisters, his accidental murder of one sister's lover, his imprisonment in an insane asylum--where he rapes a patient--and his volunteering to be a soldier to escape confinement.
For her work on the film, Wertmüller became the first woman nominated for the Academy Award for Best Director, a feat not matched again until 1993, when New Zealand filmmaker Jane Campion was nominated for The Piano. The film received three other Academy Award nominations, including one for Best Foreign Language Film. It also received one Golden Globe Award nomination for Best Foreign Film.
The production design and costume design were by the director's husband, Enrico Job.
The picaresque story follows its protagonist, Pasqualino (Giannini), a dandy and small-time hood in Naples in Fascist and World War II Italy.
To save the family honour, Pasqualino kills a pimp who had turned his sister into a prostitute. To dispose of the victim's body, he dismembers it and places the parts in suitcases. Caught by the police, he is convicted and sent to prison.
Pasqualino succeeds in getting himself transferred to a psychiatric ward but, desperate to get out, he volunteers for the Italian Army, which is allied with the German army. With an Italian comrade, he eventually deserts the army, but they are captured and sent to a German concentration camp.
In a bid to save his own life, Pasqualino decides to survive the camp by providing sexual favors to the obese and ugly female commandant (Stoler). His plan succeeds, but the commandant puts Pasqualino in charge of a barracks as a kapo. Here he must select six men to be killed to prevent all from being killed. Pasqualino ends up executing his former Army comrade, and he is responsible for the death of another fellow prisoner, a Spanish anarchist.
At the war's end, upon his return to Naples, Pasqualino discovers that his seven sisters, his fiancée, and even his mother have all survived by becoming prostitutes.
Seven Beauties was filmed on location in Naples, Campania, Italy.
In the opening sequence of Seven Beauties, spoken over World War II archival footage showing the destruction of cities and men, Wertmüller defines the object of her critique--a "particular petty bourgeois social type".
The subject of the film is survival. At the time of its release, it was controversial for its graphic depiction of Nazi concentration camps. In his 1976 essay "Surviving", Bruno Bettelheim, while admiring the film's artistry, severely criticized its impression of the experience of concentration camp survivors. Bettelheim's own views about concentration camps have likewise been critiqued.
On the aggregate reviewer web site Rotten Tomatoes, the film received an 85% positive rating from top film critics (based on 13 reviews) and a 90% positive audience rating (based on 2,109 reviews). In April 2019, a restored version of the film was selected to be shown in the Cannes Classics section at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival.
|1977||Academy Awards||Best Director||Lina Wertmüller||Nominated[N 2]|
|Best Actor in a Leading Role||Giancarlo Giannini||Nominated|
|Best Writing (Original Screenplay)||Lina Wertmüller||Nominated|
|Best Foreign Language Film||Nominated|
|Directors Guild of America Award||Outstanding Directorial Achievement||Lina Wertmüller||Nominated|
|Golden Globe Award||Best Foreign Film||Nominated|
|New York Film Critics Circle Award||Best Film||Nominated|
|Best Director||Lina Wertmüller||Nominated|
|Best Actor||Giancarlo Giannini||Nominated|
|Best Screenplay||Lina Wertmüller||Nominated|