Review: Two Women
Blu-ray: Two Women (1960)
Italy in World War 2, widowed Cesira (Sophia Loren) leaves Rome with her devoutly religious daughter Rosetta when the city comes under attack by Allied forces. The pair escape to a small village, where they meet various people including Jean-Paul Belmondo’s Michele Di Libero.
Throughout Sophia Loren’s career she’s made some cracking films (and will forever be my Dad’s favourite ‘sexy lady’. Good choice Dad), though I do think that her looks have sometimes blinded a lot of people to her acting talent. Two Women is without a doubt one of her finest performances. There are two films I remember having an impact on me as a kid, one starred Sammy Davis Jnr as a cowboy and it made me cry, and the other was Two Women. I could never get the look on the young girls face out of my head, after she’d been attacked. It deeply disturbed me.
The story centers around her as a widowed Roman shopkeeper, who tries desperately to keep her twelve-year-old daughter, Rosetta, safe during World War II. To escape the Allied bombing of Rome, Cesira and her daughter flee southern Lazio for her native Ciociaria, a rural, mountainous province of central Italy. The night before they go, Cesira sleeps with Giovanni, a neighbouring coal dealer who agrees to look after her store in her absence. After they arrive at Ciociaria, Cesira attracts the attention of a young local intellectual with Communist sympathies named Michele. Rosetta sees him as a sort of romantic Father figure and develops a strong bond with him. However, Michele is eventually taken prisoner by a company of German soldiers, who hope to use him as a guide to the mountainous terrain.
Cesira decides to return to Rome once the Allied troops end the German occupation. On the way home, stopping at a bombed out church, Cesira and Rosetta are gang-raped inside a church by a group of Goumier. This occurance was well known in Italy and called ‘Marocchinate’ (meaning ‘women raped by Moroccans’). So many women were raped and killed, the monument ‘Mamma Ciociara’ was erected in remembrance of the Marocchinate women, particularly those who were killed during the military campaign.
This is the sort of film that demands an essay be written about its content, gender roles, women having to sell themselves to get what they want or need, stereotyping (unfortunate in one way that the rapists are black men, but this IS based on truth), it’s a very deep film, and probably as shocking (but obviously NOT as graphic) as Irréversible. A classic film that despite its ‘difficult’ content is a worthwhile watch.
- Original Italian Version, with optional English subtitles
- English Version of the film, with original dubbing by Sophia Loren