It is a beatutifully shot film with touches of both humour and tragedy in its story. Ennio Morricone was nominated for an Oscar for the original music and Lajos Koltai nominated for the Best Cinematography.
On the day Italy enters the Second World War in 1940, Renato (Giuseppe Sulfaro) gets his first bike and also his first look at Malèna Scordia (Monica Bellucci), the beautiful, silent outsider who has moved to a small Sicilian town to be with her husband, Nico.
But when Malèna's husband leaves for she becomes subject to the lustful eyes of the men and sharp tongues of the women. During the next few years, as Renato grows toward manhood, he sees Malèna suffer and struggle and face loneliness, grief, slander, poverty and humiliation simply because she is beautiful.
|SPOILER: full story|
| Renato gets his first bike on the day Italy enters the Second World War and with it can finally join the local gang.
Malena's husband has gone off to fight and she soon learns he has been killed. In the meantime, she is adored and idolised by every man and boy in the town, including Renato who skips off school to hide and watch her. He begins then to fantasize, masturbating furiously to mental images of her.
As time goes on, the townsfolk begin to despise Malena and her beauty. A slanderous letter destroys Malena's relationship with her Father (who is also Renato's Latin teacher) and in an air raid he is subsequently killed.
Malena is then taken to court by the wife of a local dentist, accused (unfairly) of having an affair with him. Malena is shown to be innocent but the army officer with whom she is actually having an affair is sent away much to her distress. Finally, however, Malena's poverty causes her to sleep with men for food and favours. She openly joins the town's high-class prostitute in sleeping with German officers and when Renato sees them together, he faints.
Convinced her son is possessed, Renato's mother (and the other old ladies) take him to church for exorcism. His father, however, takes him to a brothel to get the sex out of his system; it is here that he has sex with a prostitute who resembles Malena, fantasizing all the time he is with her.
The war ends; the women of the town exact their revenge and drag Malena into the street and cut her hair and publicly humiliate her. Malena then leaves the town and her house becomes overrun by refugees. A few days later Nino Scordio, Malena's husband, returns; he was not killed in the war but lost an arm instead. He begins to search for Malena but the town remains silent except for Renato who, despite his love for Malena (or perhaps because of it) sends him an anonymous note telling him where she is. Scordio leaves on the train soon after.
The film moves on one year. Nino Scordia and his wife, Malena, return. She is beautiful once more and the two of them walk silently through the town together. They townswomen call her Signora and treat her with respect and curry favour with her (although behind her back they still find fault). In the final scene Renato manages to speak with her - the one and only time he does; he picks up her fallen oranges and wishes her "good luck" before riding off.
Selected Cast & Crew
- Giuseppe Tornatore - director
- Ennio Morricone - music
- Lajos Koltai - cinematography
- Francesco Frigeri - production design
The official trailer (in English) for the film.
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