Browse all reviews by letter     A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z 0 - 9

Italy 1974
Directed by
Lina Wertmuller
120 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3 stars

Swept Away (1974)

Also known by its full title, Swept Away... by an Unusual Destiny in the Blue Sea of August, Lina Wertmüller’s battle of the sexes comedy has the incomparable Giancarlo Giannini as a deckhand on board a wealthy businessman’s yacht where he bridles against his treatment by the haughty "rich bitch" wife (Mariangela Melato) until he gets stranded on an island with her and the chance comes to turn the tables on her.

By today’s standard Wertmüller’s film is decidedly politically incorrect as Giannini’s Gennarino, a card-carrying Communist Party member and Sicilian cafone who hates the rich with a passion and believes that woman’s role in life is to serve her man, starves and beats Melato into submission. Even more problematically when he eventually rapes her she loves the experience and they segue to a pre-civilized idyll of man-the-hunter and his devoted slave.

Also written by the Left-leaning director, there is clearly a playfully provocative element to the scenario but one also feels that in fracturing the veneer of civilization and the assertion of a new “natural” dynamic there is a good deal of truth, the sort of honesty which Anglo-American audiences are not familiar with. Indeed once the new power relations are established, a genuine affection develop between the two, with it being clear that what is at stake is Gennarino's emotional insecurity, something which Rafaella willingly gives him.  Indeed it is Gennarino who willfully destroys this by arranging to have them return to civilization to test the power of their love only to find that it cannot withstand the restoration of the status quo, Wertmüller ending the film with the once-conquering Gennarino the ridiculous, hen-pecked male he would play in the director’s 1976 film, Seven Beauties.

FYI: The film was remade in 2002 by Guy Ritchie with his then-wife Madonna in the lead and Giannini's son as the put-upon crew member.




Want something different?

random vintage best worst