Research Paper: Giancarlo Giannini

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Giancarlo Giannini is perhaps most known as an actor and voice dubber. He was born on August 1st 1942 in LA Spezia, Italy. His academics were spent at Academia Nazionale d'Arte Drammatica within the city of Rome. His debut part in acting began in I criminali della metropoli in 1965. Other films he's acted in are the Secret of Santa Vittoria and Anzio. The original version of the film Swept away was one of his starring roles. At the beginning of 1970 he filmed E. le stelle stanno a guardare. The movie was a TV adaptation of novel titled: The Star Look Down by author J. Cronin. One of his most notable works: Seven Beauties gained him critical acclaim and a nomination for Best Actor in the Academy Awards in 1976. This landed him respect and admiration within Hollywood as the film was nominated amidst it being entirely spoken in Italian.

Another aspect of his career worth noting is his dubbing work. He dubbed movies like Batman and the Shining in Italian. He even dubbed the voice of Al Pacino. Although an actor like Giannini has gained fame from his Italian performances, he also speaks fluent English. He's starred in English speaking films like Man on Fire and Hannibal. However most film students researching him today know him best from any of his films directed by Wertmuller.

Giannini is a man of many talents and his roles prove his versatility. He has played inspector in Hannibal, protective father in a Walk in the Clouds and even played the Padishah Emperor Shaddam IV in the well-known sci-fi mini-series, Dune. Giannini continues to act and his most recent well-known role comes from Casino Royale in which he plays French agent Mathis. He also stars in the movies sequel, Quantum of Solace. All of his successes have brought him fame, success, and even a star in Toronto, Canada on the Italian Walk of Fame. Over his 46 years of acting he has started in over thirty films with some year starring in several. This paper will take a brief look more specifically at the roles he has played, his personality, and the impact of his talent on Italian and even American cinema.

Giancarlo Giannini played the character of Pasqualino Frafuso or also known as Settebellezze in the hit movie Seven Beauties. (Bondanella 34) the story is filled with tragic elements such as prostitution and male sexual exploitation, however the audience gets a look at the acting abilities of Giannini as the protagonist. Amidst the chaos of prison for killing a pimp prostituting his sister, Pasqualino gets transferred to a psychiatric ward, than gets put into a concentration camp in Germany. The scenes with the obese female commandant and the sexual favors he has to do to evade coming into harm made the movie memorable as most of the time in other films it's the opposite where the men have command and the women have to perform sexual favors. Seeing the female commandant sitting in shorts, legs wide backwards on a chair looked disgusting and just as wrong as when a man does it.

When poor Pasqualino is forced to kill some of his fellow prisoners to avoid the deaths of all of the prisoners, he is forced to kill his fellow captured soldier including a Spanish anarchist he befriended and a couple others. "The last part of the film is discomfiting in its depiction of not only massacred bodies, but the psychic destruction of a victim-turned-oppressor. Pasqualino knows that if he refuses to shoot his friend, someone else will do it." (Insfador 72) This hurts the character deeply and leaves him with a lasting emotional scar the audience sees when he returns home.

What turns the film into a complete tragedy is the transformation of his sisters, fiance, and mother who prostituted themselves in order to survive. All the trouble he went through to protect his sister from prostitution and preserve his and family's honor came back full circle in the worst way.

Giannini wasn't completely sad throughout the film. He had his carefree moments like the scene with his family. He touched their bottoms one after the other and strolled outside trying to cheer everyone up. Smoking his cigarette with his hat angled, he looked like he was at peace at the same time covering something. This complexity of emotion and nonchalant melancholy is what earns him the mark of a great actor. He does little, but in those little moments he shows the world who he is, what the character is thinking and how the story may go along. Another instance in the movie is when he in area with trees and states: "I smell onions." The desperation in the character evoked a strong emotional response as well as the utter sadness and fear in his eyes that were once relaxed and smiling.

Going back to the first scene, when he stops and talks to the girl with the green parrot, giving her confidence to sing, there was such warmness and genuineness in his delivery. He was flirty at the same time noble. He did a great job of balancing a myriad of feelings and actions all within one minute of scene. And when the women saw him and looked at him with flirtatious eyes, he seemed content yet jaded while strolling along in the city. Another thing to note in this role was he liked to carry his hands in his pockets when he strolled. Was this to evoke the care-free attitude of the character to then destroy this towards the end?

Another of Wertmuller's films, Swept Away shown in 1974 plays two sides much like in Seven Beauties. Instead of tragic and comedy however, it makes the audience elicit scorn and sympathy for the protagonist. "She balances close-ups that invite detachment. Critics who assumed that the director was endorsing her protagonist simply by having him survive tended to ignore cinematic means…" (Insdorf 73) Giannini plays ship hand Gennarino who gets stuck on an island with an upper class pretty blonde woman named Raffaella. They at first have hate relationship with Giannini taking orders from her aboard the yacht, then Raffaella taking orders from him on the island. The audience wants to hate him because he hits her, however he does show some redeeming qualities as he chooses not to rape her and instead has her fall in love with him.

Several scenes contain the two actors kissing passionately on the beach. And in the end when they get rescued and go back to their old lives and social status, the audience feels sorry for Giannini. His character has to go back to being working class, living in a loveless marriage and losing his actual love to social standing and material wealth. Much like in Seven Beauties the character Giannini plays in this movie has good and bad times and is at one point at the mercy of a woman.

Giannini starred in numerous films and some offer audiences a fresh perspective on the actor. Lo zio indegno has Giannini play the role of Ricardo, nephew to Luca. Instead of playing a submissive, working class role, Giannini plays the part of a successful business owner who is married with kids. "Different from his characters in the Lina Wertmuller films, here Giannini as Riccardo is an extremely successful entrepreneur, the owner of an industrial cleaning company." (Landy 341)

Landy explains how men in Italian cinema are often portrayed in a certain light. "In looking retrospectively at the various ways in which masculinity has been represented in Italian cinema over the course of the century, several issues stand out: There is in the films an overwhelming preoccupation with the care and nurture of the male" (Landy 343) Case in point, Giannini's film roles showcase the staggering man and the naughty, yet inept figure. Landy goes on to explain how men in Italian cinema are recently portrayed. "More recently, the masculine figure is a vestige of a glorious or heroic past that is now reduced to banality or a harbinger of new ways of thinking and acting." (Landy 343)

In Anzio, Giannini plays a supportive role of private named Cellini. This film marks one of his first and was shown in 1968. Like some of his other films, the theme of Germany and soldiers comes into play and marks the beginning of several roles related to military and war. "The initial episode is an elaborate mesh of misunderstandings: the Sicilians think the Americans are Germans at first; the soldiers speak of the landscape and its ruins in terms of horror films and ironically compare them to luxury hotel rooms." (Sitney 47) Much like his films like Swept Away and Seven Beauties, there's a subtle complexity to his characters, his setting and Giannini's overall delivery. This kind of complexity is seen throughout his acting career and led him to continued success.

One movie Giannini did that dealt more in depth with Germany and Nazism… [END OF PREVIEW]

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