Wednesday, November 10, 2010
Women of the World (1963, Paolo Cavara, Gualtiero Jacopetti, Franco Prosperi)
One year after the Italian trio of Cavara, Jacopetti and Prosperi helmed their first "Mondo" (the Italian word for World) film - Mondo Cane, they followed it up with another film delving into controversial themes - this time focusing on "Women of the World". After enjoying Mondo Cane so much, I thought a documentary (or shockumentary) on women would be great.
Women of the World gives the viewers a rare chance at seeing the many roles women play in different cultures and societies. From the Las Vegas strip to Japan to Hollywood Boulevard to Hawaii to the jungles of Whereverthefuck, we see women as matriarchs, prostitutes, pearl divers, in-store bed models and even as the Treasurer of the United States! It is all captured by the unflinching camera of the creators of the Mondo genre.
Women of the World (or La donna nel mondo in its native Italian) is another magnificent study in real life brought by one of the most controversial trio of film makers. What I loved about this film is its travelogue feel - especially the scenes in 60s America. Like Mondo Cane, much of the film's subject matter is very dated (sometimes with hilarious results) but the cinematography looks and feels like it was filmed yesterday. I am a sucker for nostalgia and Women of the World has many scenes where you feel like you are transported back in time and are witnessing what is going on in the film first hand. Another brilliant musical score by Riz Ortolani and Nino Oliviero helps give the film its "worldly" feel. Blue Underground should be praised for bringing these Mondo films to DVD in assorted box sets and despite some print damage early on in the film, much of the transfer used is in astonishingly great shape. Though not nearly as provocative as the Mondo films are known for (not a bad thing here), there are a few shocking scenes that might make you wince or look away (mostly surgery scenes). For the most part though, Women of the World gives viewers a wonderful view into different cultures and the varying but always important role women play in each one.