All my students think I’m crazy when I say that I haven’t watched Italian tv since 2008. The absolute lack of interest for tv programmes is somehow softened by the passion for Italian cinema. I’m no expert when it comes to the classics, but I’m a dedicated and motivated learner. I started watching Luchino Visconti’s movies  last summer and I was shocked by most of them: besides the plots and the general atmospheres, what struck me was the incredibly modern use of colours, lights and shadows and the peculiar “eye” he cast on characters and places. After choosing Vaghe stelle dell’Orsa as one of my favourite movies ever and after realizing I’ve become obsessed with the costumes designed by Piero Tosi, I took a pause from Visconti’s movies. Two days ago, after a long Christmas holiday lunch, I decided to watch Rocco e i suoi fratelli. I had many expectations about it: I had read lots of reviews, so I had the general atmosphere in mind but I was looking forward to watching it anyway. I’m still trying to grasp its complexity because I’ve found many different suggestions in it: the story of a family which moves from Southern Italy to Milan is like the story of my family (my mother’s family moved to Turin just after the World War II, but they went back home after some years; later, my mother moved back to the North after taking her degree) and that’s surely a reason of interest. The rise and fall of one of the characters, Simone (played by one of my favourite Italian actors, Renato Salvatori), contrasts with the rise of the protagonist, Rocco (Simone’s brother, played by an incredibly beautiful and intense Alain Delon), and this is the core of the tragedy. They have a lot in common but are completely different, just like Cain and Abel or Judas and Jesus. Rocco is a Messianic figure, the Lamb who takes credit for his brother’s sins, who blames himself for them, who wants to save him, no matter what. Another Biblical figure is Nadia (Annie Girardot), a prostitute who falls in love with Simone first, but realizes she can really change her life thanks to Rocco’s love. She’s like Mary Magdalene, the sinner who’s released from the seven demons by Jesus. Like Rocco, she is the innocent victim of the world’s violence and she accepts her destiny like the Lamb (see the position of her arms in this scene, as if she were Jesus Christ on his cross).
Her first appearance shows she’s different from the Parondis and from the female figures we’ve met so far, especially Rosaria, Rocco’s mother (Katina Paxinou). She’s leaving her father’s house and looking somewhere to go, while wearing a floral-print dress, unbuttoned as a robe, worn on a satin basque with lace inserts. She meets Vincenzo (Spiros Focás), one of Rocco’s brothers, on the stairs and this will change her destiny and the future of the other characters, too. Later in the movie, her outfits (especially the camel trench coat with fur collar she wears during the scene shot on top of the Duomo in Milan) further emphasize the distance between her and the rest of the cast.
When it comes to the shoes she wears in her first scene, they tell a lot about her. She’s not rich, but she would like to be a wealthy lady. Those black pumps with glittering heels are the symbol of this dream and of her attitude of social climber. Later in the movie, we’ll see she’s actually wearing an armour, because her real desires are less material than expected, but the first impression we get will somehow stay attached to the character. I tried to take some screencaps, but enjoy the video above to see the tempting glittering heels of her pumps.