I have been introduced to Anna Magnani by one of my voice and speech teachers during my first "Quarterly Reviews." I was encouraged to watch Anna Magnani in "The Fugitive Kind" (1960) with Marlon Brando, among other actresses. I was drawn into her work and later explored a scene from "Orpheus Descending" (the play from which the movie was based on by Tennessee Williams) for scene study class.
So when I learned that the Film at Lincoln Center was doing an Anna Magnani Film Festival "La Magnani" I was ecstatic. As a student on a budget I took advantage of their 3+ film package where you get to watch a film for $9/ticket (instead of the usual $11) if you buy three or more tickets for the festival. I saw The Golden Coach, The Passionate Thief and Bellissima.
Why I love her:
There aren't as many powerhouses of actresses with international careers who are bilingual (Magnani is Italian). To see someone move with ease from Italian to English in several films made me embrace my own bilingual nature. Both the Italian and Filipino (Tagalog) languages have crisp consonants which we tend to bite into especially in heightened states. Also, I've been navigating my way into the fact that I feel like a different person when I speak English from when I speak my native language. To see an actress move fluidly between two languages shows me that it is possible to integrate the two identities into a fluid whole.
2) Unapologetic Beauty
I love the fact that Magnani is not a "classical beauty." She has lines on her face, imperfect teeth, voluptuous, not that tall - a refreshing break from our beloved waifs, our blonde bombshells, or brazilian supermodels - and yet, she is considered one of the greatest actresses of Italian cinema (and she has a movie with Marlon Brando). The experience of watching Magnani goes beyond watching a great actress employ great technique. Watching Magnani is watching a full blooded human being onscreen, a beast even at times. She has played characters in which three men fall in love with her at the same time and why not? What made me think that human beings could fall in love with only one type of beauty?
The first movie I saw Magnani was in "The Fugitive Kind" so I immediately identified her as a dramatic actress. But when I saw her in "The Golden Coach" and "The Passionate Thief" I was thrilled to know she was also so funny. I don't think an actress has made me laugh as much as Magnani has in a film before. Often when I would watch a "romantic comedy" I would not really laugh. I would only be "amused." The guy chases after the girl, encounters some problems, the girl is being really cute. With Magnani, I laugh because the stakes are real, the experience honest, the obstacles palpable.
I am a Graduate Drama student at The Juilliard School from Quezon City, Philippines.