Mediterraneo

1991, R, 105 min. Directed by Gabriele Salvatores. Starring Diego Abatantuono, Claudio Bigagli, Giuseppe Cederna, Claudio Bisio, Vasco Mirandolo.

REVIEWED By Kathleen Maher, Fri., May 1, 1992

This year's Academy Award winner for Best Foreign Film is not for everyone. It's not for me. It's based on a true story about a small troop of Italian soldiers abandoned on a Greek island while World War II rages on around them and without them. The soldiers shed or lose the material symbols of their past lives, their uniforms, their guns and their radio and discover – are you ready? – that there are more important things in life. Oh, there are some holdouts – the career soldier who has trouble getting used to life without military discipline or the chronic deserter desperate to get home to his expectant wife – and there are hardships – there's two, maybe three, sexually available women on the island – but, in general, the men adjust to this latest cinematic utopia. (As an aside, I'd like to speculate here for a minute: is the fact that there are only a few women but they are willing to share their favors a plus or a minus for these men? It seems they may find this form of camaraderie preferable to domestic bliss or romantic love. Doesn't much matter, this is a relatively minor plot point.) The women are thrown in just to alleviate any nagging questions one might have about the desirability of a paradise without sex. But that's about as specific as this vision gets. And that explains this film's popularity. Who is going to disagree that life should be simpler or that war is bad? Mediterraneo is a pleasant movie, though it would be more pleasant if the main characters had a little more depth. Especially annoying after a while is Abatantuono as the reluctant sergeant who expresses his confusion at a life without discipline by yelling all the time. Mediterraneo is beautiful, it's pleasant, but truly, it's not much more than a classy Gilligan's Island.

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READ MORE
More Gabriele Salvatores Films
I'm Not Scared
Sun-dappled sadism and sweet innocence merge in this psychological thriller that sees evil from a young Italian boy's point of view.

Marc Savlov, May 21, 2004

More by Kathleen Maher
Incident at Oglala
British filmmaker Apted makes a carefully reasoned, yet passionate statement about the legal system that has ensnared American Indian Movement activist Leonard Peltier.

July 10, 1992

Titicut Follies
Wiseman filmed conditions in the Bridgeport Mental Hospital with a bare minimum of crew and equipment, which resulted in a devastatingly candid view of life behind the high walls of a state mental hospital for the criminally insane.

July 10, 1992

KEYWORDS FOR THIS FILM

Mediterraneo, Gabriele Salvatores, Diego Abatantuono, Claudio Bigagli, Giuseppe Cederna, Claudio Bisio, Vasco Mirandolo

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