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Maladolescenza (1977)
Director: Pier Giuseppe Murgia

Laura and Fabrizio have been meeting every summer in the forest by her parent's summer home. Fabrizio is a solitary boy with only his dog for company; Laura a sweet but unconfident child. This summer new aspects enter into their story as both are growing up. Laura is falling in love with Fabrizio, while he displays a new sexual awareness of her masked by his malice. Things develop further when they meet Sylvia who, unlike the innocent Laura, is confident and assertive. Fabrizio develops a fascination with her, eventually bribing Laura to fetch her to the forest to join them in play.

Maladolescenza (1977)

Tame Stuff

I think I saw this when it was new. Hard to remember, because I don’t think it had much effect on me. If it did, it has far less now.

The idea here is that we see creeping malevolence made crisp by showing it among preteens and setting it in a sort of ruined forest-city. There’s nudity, sex and murder placed so that we will fall into a pattern of being shocked, and walk away disturbed. The filmmakers at the time said that the intent was to let that disturbance seep in for a few days and bond with the notion of exploitation of humans by other humans. Here it is men of women, but their intent was more universal (if you can believe it). The reference to the “Blue Mountain” seems a deliberate reference to national socialism.

The problem is that it just doesn’t work. It is too blunt. Sure, some of the settings have power, and it is novel seeing young people having sex. But the basic qualities that could creep under our skin are missing. The three kids here just don’t have the talent they needed to make this really disturb. The director muffs the ending. The sex, which is supposed to be so controversial is clumsily fake.

So I cannot really recommend this. You may have a hard time finding it in its original version, and that fact is more interesting than the movie itself. When this was made, it was (and still is) arguably on the “redeeming art” side of the pornography equation. It doesn’t matter that many folks suck at this for its prurient elements, the fact is that it should exist and be seen and judged on its merits.

It will not be, at least not legally in my lifetime. That’s because since this was made, the internet has opened a whole new supply and demand ecosystem for child pornography, and draconian laws have been universally passed by a coalition of the merely outraged and those actually intent on protecting children. So even if these were “adults” (meaning over 18) pretending to be children, or cartoon figures, this is illegal.

But surely there is a difference between a serious film made with consent and fake sex, with pretensions to being worthwhile, and exploitive prepubescent pornography. And since when do 18 year old kids magically become less inept at life?

Anyway, I don’t think this is worth the battle. Others obviously do.

Posted in 2008

Ted’s Evaluation — 1 of 3: You can find something better to do with this part of your life.


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