Love and Anarchy

Love and Anarchy ★★★★★

Love and Anarchy may have the most muted color scheme of any film I've ever truly loved. It almost feels like it was planned to be shot in black and white, which would give the film more visual pop. But pop would be the wrong choice to elevate this film's plot and themes. It's a film about a culture in tatters. Its aesthetic drabness mirrors the glorious ruins that are scattered throughout the film and surround the main action. The filmmakers create an impression of Italy as a culture past its prime. There's a grayish tone to most of the scenes that somewhat recalls the color scheme of a corpse. I'm at a loss exactly how to describe how something that can appear so bland can be so emotionally resonant for me.

Perhaps, given that most of my cinematic exposure to Italy is through the eyes of Fellini and Antonioni who tend to create existential fashion shows, Lina Wertmüller's dead eyed and desperate look at Italy is something I wasn't prepared for. Somewhat like Sam Peckinpah's Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid, the aesthetic of Love and Anarchy ascribes a feeling of meaningless to the actions of the film, as if Italian culture died before the events of the film even starts. Perhaps why I enjoy it slightly more (although both made my personal canon) is the strength of emotion in Wertmüller's film. While both films feel like funerals, Love and Anarchy has a level of grief and gnashing of teeth that Peckinpah's film doesn't which ripped me open by the film's epilogue.

Perhaps this aesthetic is a way to underline the meaningless of one person's feelings and actions compared to the weight of history while still underlining the importance of those feelings and actions. A lot of what I got from the film is right there in the title: it exists at the intersection between the personal and the political, between the survival of one and the survival of a people.

I always have trouble explaining my philosophy on the world, on the importance of accepting that your actions are meaningless but that you should act like they're not. But Love and Anarchy is exactly that somehow. It's both deeply depressing and a call to action at the same time. It's a love story and a critique of the selfishness of romantic love. It's a beautiful film, created using the power of ugliness.

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