Lina Wertmüller (Seven Beauties) made this pointed, 1975 comedy-drama about class and sex conflicts. Mariangela Melato plays a rich woman marooned on an island with a crude sailor (Giancarlo Giannini). The two initially as... more »sume their accustomed class relationship with one another--she expects service, he grumbles about it--but then a revolution takes place and the subjugation is reversed. The film comes down on you like a hammer, but Wertmüller adroitly traces the shifting nuances of the relationship, and the two stars are excellent. Numerous scenes stick in the memory many years after one viewing. --Tom Keogh« less
Socio-political and sexual critique couched as love story ..
dooby | 05/21/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
""Travolti da un insolito destino nell'azzurro mare d'agosto" (Swept Away by an Unusual Destiny in the Blue Sea of August), to give it its convoluted original title, was meant as an allegory on social and class injustice as much as a battle for dominance between the sexes. It is one of Lina Wertmuller's finest films and is the one which most closely fuses her main themes of socio-political and sexual injustice.
Rich, upper-middle-class, Raffaella (Mariangela Melato), a loud-mouthed and opinionated Social Democrat from Milan, and the pampered jet-set clique she hangs out with are on a yachting holiday in the Mediterranean. They are served by a crew of poor working-class, dark skinned southerners, one of whom, Gennarino (Giancarlo Giannini), a card carrying communist, cannot abide her whiny bitchiness. As luck would have it, they end up marooned on a deserted island. Torn from their worldly moorings, they undergo a role reversal as the rich, pampered lady has to literally prostrate herself before the menial servant in order to survive. This role reversal is portrayed graphically and very brutally and will certainly have feminists and even many men cringing in disgust, especially in our era of extreme political correctness. She is smacked, beaten, almost raped, made to grovel and finally forced to acknowledge him as her "Master". Incredibly, she slowly falls in love with him. To the point where she no longer wants to be rescued when a passing ship sails within sight of their island "paradise."
The bleak ending following their rescue, where she leaves him for the privileged lifestyle she had previously been accustomed to, is pessimistic and sad and points to how things never really change in the end - the poor will always be poor, the rich rich and not even love can break through that barrier. One final irony is revealed at the end when the dominatingly abusive Gennarino is shown as a meek, almost henpecked husband, set upon by his jealous wife when she finds out that he has had an affair with the woman while marooned on the island. The closing shot of him timidly carrying her bags as he walks a respectful 2 paces behind her is unforgettable. Not at all the "Master" he made himself out to be on his little island utopia.
Much of the socio-political implications will be lost to American audiences who will see it purely as a satirical battle of the sexes. On the level of a love story it is bittersweet if not downright sad. On the level of sexual equality, it pokes a finger at the concept of male domination. On the socio-political level it is a parable and a warning that tables will turn and that the oppressed will one day arise and the ruling elite will get a taste of the injustice that they have meted out for so long.
Previously released in 1997 in a deplorable transfer by Fox-Lorber, it has finally been restored and remastered to almost pristine condition by its successor, Koch-Lorber Films. It is presented in its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio (enhanced for widescreen TV). The film was deliberately shot in soft focus and exhibits a small amount of grain but other than that, it boasts gorgeously saturated colors, deep, rich blacks and nary a nick in a film that is over 30 years old (1974). The azure-blue hues of the Mediterranean sea and sky are a joy to behold. The original Italian mono track is included as well as 2.0 Stereo and Dolby Digital 5.1 remixes. The sound is not that great but more than adequate for its purpose. This is after all a dialogue driven movie and Raffaella does sound obnoxiously shrill. Optional English subtitles are included. There are no extras save for some Koch-Lorber trailers. "Swept Away" comes in the same transfer as that found in Koch Lorber's Lina Wertmuller Collection but avoid that if you can. Only "Swept Away" and "Summer Night" have been fully remastered. It'd be wiser to wait till Koch-Lorber comes round to restoring and remastering the other films before getting them."
Madonna remake rumor hopefully unfounded
Drew Hunkins | Madison, WI United States | 07/11/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"For those who loathe foreign films, put that prejudice aside and check out this sensational movie. Giannini and Melato make the best screen couple since Bogart and Bergman. Swept Away is filled with witty, intelligent dialogue, hilarious banter and breath-taking scenes of the Mediteranean. It's also fairly politically literate, which is a rarity in Hollywood these days, it's also rare in most other movie making outlets.
The plot sounds as formulaic as humanly possible, but wait! This one is different. It's got a style and panache that barely any other films can match. Sure it was controversial (the misogynistic violence is quite disturbing) but Lina Wertmuller offers up a masterpiece that should not be ignored. It's easily her best and most enjoyable movie. Some would argue Seven Beauties is her best, but I respectfully disagree.
To see this one on a large screen would be quite an experience, just looking at it on my regular television made it seem as if I were cruising the Medeteranean right along with them. They just don't make movies like this anymore, and especially not in Hollywood. When recommending foreign films to your friends you cannot go wrong by pushing this video into their hands.
Wertmuller rightly deserves to be considered one of the world's finest directors (a label that often eludes her, as I feel she's somewhat underrated) with this and other fine productions under her belt."
Interesting Island Love Story
David Anderson | St. Cloud, MN | 03/22/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
""Swept Away" is an interesting italian 1974 release about a greedy woman who expects her male servent to accommodate her with anything she pleases in all costs. Her cruelty takes an unexpected turn once they become trapped on an island together. Then the job roles turn around, and her trials return to haunt her. The war that erupts between each other takes an unusual turn.This creative plot was written wonderfully. They combine drama, comedy, romance, and slight erotica to make this unforgettable movie. Its conflicts and its trials keep audiences watching closely at what will happen next. The love story theme is one of the most unique in cinema history, though cruel. Twists and turns arise in various scenes giving it the added edge, leading to a surprise and powerful conclusion. Though there are some flaws not relating to the writing, namely the woman managing to keep her make-up on throught the entire island stay without reapplying, the interesting storyline greatly makes up for it. The acting is interesting, especially the two lead actors: Giancarlo Giannini and Mariangela Melato. Though Melato occasionally overreacts some words, she keeps her character interesting with her unique charisma. Giannini keeps his aggressive edge intact in every moment. All other actors also perform their roles wonderfully."Swept Away" is a great film for those looking for something unforgettably unique. This will surely keep audiences entertained. Those who like this film should stay away from the 2002 American remake, starring Madonna. It's not nearly as good."
Wertmuller is amazing
Dusk2Dawn | 04/12/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Director Lina Wertmuller's provocative film takes the class struggle to a desert island where only the man and the woman exist. Wertmuller's scenario is that of the man assuming the role of ruler and the woman one of worker-slave, and this becomes a love relationship. Naturally, the man is the one most reluctant to go back to the society where he is worker-slave and the woman is ruler over him! The black humor is wonderful because it is visual, via the camera angles and shots, and it is beautifully filmed. I'm afraid the new version, from what I've heard,(and I will not pay to see it)meddles with the ending and hence changes the meaning of the film. With a world-class filmmaker like Lina Wertmuller, why fix what isn't broke and do a remake of a perfectly fine work of art?"
Swept Away by This Film
Wendell E. Rhodes | 01/04/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Linda Wertmüller's 1974 Swept Away looks at one of those infamous elephants in the living room that no one wants to talk about - sex and politics. Little wonder it's one of the most controversial movies ever made. Exquisitely filmed in the Mediterranean, Swept Away is the story of two people from very different worlds thrown together by chance. Gennarino (Giancarlo Giannini) is a poor sailor working aboard a chartered yacht. Raffaella (Mariangela Melato) is the beautiful, wealthy woman who chartered it. Raffaella treats Gennarino like dirt - constantly insulting and ridiculing him - and he has no choice but to let her. She is capital; he is labor. He must put up with her abuses because he needs her money. That fact gives her power over him. But when the two of them become stranded on a deserted island, the tables are quickly turned. Gennarino has the skills needed to survive. Raffaella's only skills consist of shopping, sunbathing and ordering servants around. If she wants to survive, she must give Gennarino what he wants, and what he wants is nothing less than her complete physical, mental and emotional submission. At first, she resists, later she consents. Eventually, she comes to want - even love - his domination. It would be easy to dismiss Swept Away as pure male fantasy, until you remember that it was made by a woman and a feminist. Wertmüller asks us, with all the subtlety of a Howitzer, to look at the complex relationships between sex and power, and how easily those relationships can be flipped on their heads. You might not like what Wertmüller has to say. You'll probably hate the way she says it. Or not! But love it or hate it, Swept Away is - like the elephant - hard to ignore for long."