The film Malena was released in 2000 under the direction of Giuseppe Tornatoro and was based on the short story of the same name by Luciano Vincenzoli. For some, the film will seem vulgar, vicious, for someone that neither is the truth of life. Nevertheless, the film is the owner of many nominations at various film festivals and is warmly received by critics.
The story is based on the memories of a 13-year-old boy named Renato about his youth and his first love. Actions take place during the Second World War. Renato and his family settled in a small Italian town, where everyone knows every ins and outs about each other, and if some details are little known, they will certainly think them out on their own.
The son joined the company of his classmates. Every morning they gathered near the house of Malena, the 27-year-old daughter of their deaf teacher of literature, and did not hesitate to stare at her chiseled and flawless body, sharing erotic fantasies with each other. The beauty of Malena haunted no one in this town. Her husband went to the army, she was left to live alone. Her attempts to get a job were not successful, as employers were afraid of the wives of their employees, because there was not a man left in the city who was not besotted by her beauty. Women invent and spread rumors about her availability and unbridledness, and every man dreams of being in bed with her. However, despite everything, Malena remains faithful to her husband. Renato also got into the habit of secretly watching her. He fell in love, dreamed at night about her beauty, while engaging in masturbation.
Soon the news of the death of Malena’s husband awards her the status of a widow. Men begin to court her with a vengeance, and women are even more alarmed for the fidelity of their husbands. The attitude of women in her direction became almost boorish, caustic and offensive, with vulgar jokes and hints. Malena was adamant about nothing.
For almost a year, the girl observed mourning. Later, she tried to establish a personal life with one officer, who once ran into a dentist at the door, who, being married, tried to name Malena as his bride. The dentist’s wife was vigilant and ambushed her husband with witnesses. Because of this incident, the widow was tried, but the lawyer managed to protect her honor. However, he was not conscientious, because he forced the girl to pay with her body.
The city soon comes under bombardment, resulting in the death of Malena’s father. The girl is left without a livelihood and she has no choice but to become what everyone considers her to be – a woman of easy virtue. Women hate her even more. When the English troops come into the city to replace the German ones, the distraught women drag her to the square by force, beat her, cut her hair and order her to leave the city.
After some time, a man appears in the town, in whom the old-timers recognize Malena’s husband. No one dares to tell him the truth and only Renato throws him a note where he explains everything and gives a guideline for finding Malena. And now, a year later, Malena and her husband appear in the city. Everyone is staring at them in amazement. Women who staged lynching over her with undisguised pleasure notice wrinkles around the eyes and fullness in the body and decide to speak. Malena responds to their greeting as if nothing had happened. One day, when she was returning home from the market, fruits were scattered on her. Renato was nearby and hurried to help, timidly touching her hands. He also timidly wished her happiness when he spoke to her for the first time, and at the same moment he hurried away from the object of desire of his whole life.
It is frankly shown that the crowd, driven by a single thought, is able to rewrite the reality of a person and trample him with their censure, rumors and thirst for revenge. A society of women can forgive intelligence and talent, but never overshadowing beauty and grace. Only when Malena turned into a gray and unremarkable city dweller did society accept her into their circles. The beauty of Malena was perceived by the public as a tumor on a healthy body, from which it was imperative to get rid of.
Renato was in the role of an eyewitness who could not influence the course of events in any way. His exaggerated love for Malena affects his own life and views on her. His humanism and understanding that love does not mean possessing an object of love help him turn the tide and help Malena reunite with her husband.