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Ferrua, Pietro
Libera, My Love (Libera, Amore Mio)
A film by Mauro Bolognini
Article published on 31 August 2003
last modification on 26 April 2015
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Italy, 1973.

Color and B&W, 110 mins.

Scenario by Luciano Vincenzoni, Nicola Badalucco, Mauro Bolognini. Cinematography by Franco Di Giacomo.

Music by Ennio Morricone.

Cast: Claudia Cardinale, Adolfo Celi, Philippe Leroy, Luigi Duberti, Bruno Cirino, Tullio Altamura, Rosalba Neri, Eleonora Morana, Rosita Pisano, Luigi Patriarca, Marco Lucantoni, Bekim Fehmin.

Produced by Roberto Loyola.

In Mauro Bolognini’s Libera, My Love , two decades of Italian history are seen through the eyes of Libera and her family. Superimposed images - mostly depictions of Benito Mussolini, il Duce, that is to say, the leader of Fascist Italy over the course of about 23 years - show us the main events of Italy: the Ethiopian colonialist campaign, aid to Franco in the Spanish Civil War, World War II, the Allies’ disembarkation, the German occupation, the Resistance, the Liberation of Italy on April 25, and the end of the war on May 8, 1945.

The film starts with an anarchist yelling, "Down with the King! Down with the war! Long Live Anarchy!" Felice Valente is arrested and sent to internment on one of a few islands used only for forced residence. He will not be alone there, however, because all known anarchists, who did not have a chance to leave for exile, were condemned by a special tribunal and sent to those prisons. Free press was suppressed, and anarchists who were not in prison could only meet clandestinely to print underground newspapers, distribute anti-fascist propaganda, and so on.

Libera Valente (Claudia Cardinale) protests as much as she can, in the ways that she can. She dresses herself and her children in red on May 1st and buys red flowers - all innocent things in a normal context, but not under a dictatorship. Moreover, she is not married to the father of her two children because she thinks that marriage is a bourgeois convention. She does love him, even though he is not politically committed at first. In addition, she does not baptize her children because Italian anarchists are usually atheists. Libera cannot and does not want to control her tongue. She becomes more and more committed, hiding and helping to expatriate another anti-fascist. Eventually, she ends up being arrested, like her father, and is condemned to five years in prison. Her reaction is, "That will be my university." And, indeed, she reads - everyone does in those circumstances. During her imprisonment, her grown-up son joins the Resistance and her formerly uncommitted husband (while in prison she finally accepts to marry him) matures politically.

Libera’s life and behavior is typical of thousands of anarchists who keep alive the ideal and lead an uncompromised life. The last sequence of the film is poignant and deliberately ambiguous: Does Libera die by a sniper bullet (a common occurrence during the first days after the Liberation) or for self-protection? or does she just falls down for scare? The viewer will decide.

Pietro Ferrua

arrow On web : See the film on Christie Books website

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