Bearded woman’s husband

Do not cry, monkeys do not cry.” (extracts from Bearded Wife’s Husband)

A hairy woman is a virtuous woman

IN Bearded woman’s husbandMarco Ferreri renews the inconsistent grotesque bestiary he began in The marital bed. This time, he freely transposes with Rafael Azcona, his screenwriter, Julia Pastrana’s meteoric and tumultuous life course, a young exploited Mexican woman of the 19th century, hybrid between man and gorilla suffering from hypertrichosis, a genetic deformity that develops an anarchist hair system on all parts of the body. The metaphorical charge is all the more virulent as it takes shape in a disgraced being.

Often accused of provocative subversiveness in his films, almost all of which without exception are satires that perpetuate the societal flaws of his time, Ferreri could make Richard Dawkins’ phrase his own: “Our species is the only one who does not have the right to go to the vet to escape his misfortune without suffering.. “

Virilism and voyeurism

Trained as a veterinarian, he dissects the soul as much as the body with a scalpel. It is part of his duties as a satirist here to condemn the man’s greed, which compels him to exploit the woman in the name of a patriarchal virilism. He metaphorizes the galloping capitalism of his time, which exploits women for the sole purpose of satisfying men’s voyeuristic perversions. Here, an unscrupulous comedian dedicates the discovery of a monkey woman to make it a lucrative attraction even after her death and in the company of the child they gave birth to.
In the same way as the elephantias ofelephant man or that the petrified smile from Gwynplaines jokes in Ilaughing manMaria’s monstrosity evokes a strong voyeurism, which she manages to expel in fair shows of the greatest triviality.

Animal regression and buried femininity

Transposed to the Neapolitan region in the violence of economic change, teeming with life and on the surface of the small, wise people, the fate of Julia Pastrana takes a tragicomic turn. Ferreri engages in a study of human nature in which Maria / Annie Girardot shows all her humanity under her abundant hair as well as Antonio / Ugo Tognazzi under his shell of catastrophic and unjust ridicule.

The glossy character of this trade show exhibitor is somewhat reminiscent of the Zampanos in la strada however, without this circus hint specific to Fellini’s world, apart from the legend in the copper-like accents of Teo Usuelli’s music, which puts an end to the degrading episodes of Mary’s animal regression. His harsh fate does not fail to move. She was content to be a novice in the shadows, preparing minestrone for the needy at the hospice, where Antonio saw her better at misleading her and ultimately causing her to lose her virginity, which, however, was the guarantee of her “annuity in the situation”. Despite his modesty, which is only a form of Neapolitan cunning, Antonio Foccacia is the one who inhibits the timid woman of her deformity and opens up opportunities for liberation by revealing her hidden femininity.

Ferrari’s tour de force was to disgrace Annie Girardot, the highest paid actress at the box office at the time. Under the makeup of the “beast” shines through the intoxicating mouth and the classic profile of the “beautiful”. Primitivism is
summarily marked by the dressage of Antonio in a explorer’s costume beating his whip to impress the barge in a deliberately outraged pantomime that parodies monkey-like mimicry.

Ferreri suggests an inconspicuous “cannibalism” in the opening scene of the hospice, where he caricatures himself during a slide show, in which he fleetingly appears in a missionary who has gone to evangelize the African people. Carved, his head is triumphantly displayed by a scarified young native with bare breasts. One imagines the sequel, where it will be consumed in a huge boiler according to the images of Epinal that were conveyed in colonial times.

The woman is descended from the monkey

The director of supposed surplus pushes anthropomorphism to its climax in a scene where Annie Girardot finds herself climbing awkwardly up a tree by mimicking the behavior of a chimpanzee observed in a zoo, which she reluctantly monkeys to boil the pot to the heterogeneous couple she forms with Antonio.

There is nothing monkey-like about Mary except extreme hairiness, which characterizes her, and she has no disposition for the wild condition. Even less for a naughty or gross sensational desire, which she reluctantly puts up with. She is very aware of her unorthodox appearance and longs only for a life of normalcy.

Annie Girardot’s armhole is hampered by makeup that hinders her movements. His hairy face is not so striking that it appeals to the audience’s worst instincts. In addition to her supposed virginity, which is the subject of all fantasies, she delights the male audience with a very suggestive striptease number arranged by a libidinous impresario in a Parisian cabaret. At the time of the film, the good society came into slums in naughty shows, and temples of stripping were in search of postcolonial exoticism. Ferreri dares to parody this somewhat unhealthy voyeurism to dampen the surrounding unrest in a scene with a strongly proclaimed exoticism that leaves nothing unnoticed by the actress’ anatomy. Before the filmmaker accidentally lost his innocence in a bed that was too cramped to hold the couple, the filmmaker shows her, adorned in her finest wedding decorations in an immaculate white dress, clumsily singing “the novia” under the lazy spectators crowding around the couple. wedding ceremony.

Ugo Tognazzi: between shrewd greed and cunning benevolence

The lack of seriousness, the seeming frivolity gives way to a biting humanistic critique. Ferreri offers Ugo Tognazzi a two-headed role tailored to him in his clever duality. Sometimes he impresses with his cunning and oily ways of being a greedy and unscrupulous showman. Sometimes it is part of a chafouin benevolence that penetrates a decorative nonchalance of facade.

Combining professional actors and extras in colorful sequences, the film sacrifices ambient neo-realism by revealing the working population through bursts of images of Neapolitan streets and the popular fauna that animates them.

Basically, Ferreri is not fooled by the spectacle he gives to see, through Antonio’s ambivalent character. He himself is this mess man who sells raw images to condemn simulacrum and get attention. The whole world is a traveling circus, and this carnival microcosm is on a global scale.

Bearded woman’s husband is theatrically distributed by Tamasa. The restored 4K version reproduces all three endings attributed to the film in its entirety for the first time: the gloomy end to the original Italian editing, arguably the most
integrates, the long Italian ending and the diluted ending desired by producer Carlo Ponti, happy ending, intended for France and the United States.

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