The true richness of Italian cinema is such that forgotten classics are still being rediscovered; Vittorio De Seta's Almost a Man is one of them. Shot in 1966 in striking black and white, it has been called the first Italian psychoanalytic film, made at a time when going into psychoanalysis was a cultural taboo in Italy and could result in excommunication from the Catholic church or expulsion from the Communist Party. The film explores a young man's neurosis from the inside, through the filmic equivalent of a Jungian analytic process, and is dedicated to the memory of the famed Italian Jungian analyst Ernst Bernhard. Jacques Perrin plays the handsome Michele, who is unable to love or construct a happy life. Only through careful reflections of his past, his cruel, castrating mother (Lea Padovani), "perfect" brother (Gianni Garko), and relationships with women does he come to terms with his illness and the traumas that have paralyzed him. The film is constructed around a number of shocking memory and fantasy sequences-birds shot out of the sky, a trident through the foot-that are not separated from "reality." At the time it was released, the film was ignored by audiences and panned by critics, who were outraged at De Seta's supposed betrayal of his documentary style and social themes. (Fellow filmmaker Pier Paolo Pasolini, however, was one voice outside the chorus who praised this exceptional work.) De Seta defended his film by saying, "There aren't just political or social problems, but individual ones which, when added together, become collective problems." The film's tragic, post-modernist score was composed by Ennio Morricone. Print from Filmoteca Regionale Siciliana email@example.com
Italian filmmaker Vittorio De Seta, born in 1923 in Palermo, Sicily, is probably best known for his many documentaries and fictional features that were set in his native Italy. First renowned in the 1950's for a series of short documentaries that focused on the fisher folk, farmers, and other working class people of his native lands, by 1961, he graduated to completing his feature debut Bandits of Orgosolo. De Seta's other films include In Calabria (1993) and L'Invitata (1969). De Seta, whose work has been championed by director Martin Scorsese, continues today to make films in his 80s.