I knew her well

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German title I knew her well
Original title Io la conoscevo bene
Country of production Italy , Germany , France
original language Italian
Publishing year 1965
length Italy: 115 minutes,
Germany: 97 minutes
Director Antonio Pietrangeli
script Antonio Pietrangeli,
Ettore Scola ,
Ruggero Maccari
production Turi Vasile ,
Luggi Waldleitner
music Piero Piccioni
camera Armando Nannuzzi
cut Franco Fraticelli

The 1965 feature film I knew her well ( Io la conoscevo bene ) is often cited as the best work by Italian director Antonio Pietrangeli . The precisely observing narrative is a critique of superficial society during the economic miracle and at the same time a portrait of a personality. The carefree country girl who meets man for man in the big city is one of the most important roles in the career of the then 19-year-old leading actress Stefania Sandrelli . Initially not very popular, the film by the lesser-known Pietrangeli, who died early, gained more recognition over the decades. The acting and photography are also valued. Yet it is rarely performed.


Adriana is a country girl who moved to the big city, Rome . Sometimes she works as a hairdresser and beautician, sometimes she earns something as an instructor in a cinema. Men constantly succumb to their carefree nature and charms. It is by no means calculating; she does not sell or prostitute herself, although that would have been obvious. It is in their nature to fall fleetingly in love with one man at a time. One of them is the fellow Dario, who will soon let you sit down again.

There is Cianfanna, who photographs and interviews young women hoping for an acting career and places them on the catwalks of second-class events. After such an occasion on the verge of a boxing match, he would like to couple her with an old commander, whereupon she goes home alone. There she meets the boxer Emilio Ricci, a kind-hearted guy with whom she spontaneously feels comfortable, but with whom she has no further contact. Another bedmate is a writer who tells her about a girl whose life consists of listening to records and dancing - she realizes that he means her.

While visiting her poor family in the country, she learns that her younger sister went to the monastery, fell ill and died there.

She receives insignificant little roles in sandal films and meets the handsome industrialist son Antonio. However, he soon fell in love with someone else and used Adriana to call the girl who was guarded by her parents. One day the police questioned her about a bracelet Dario gave her. It turns out he originally stole it from an elderly lady. When she found out that she was pregnant, she spoke to her neighbor Barbara, who dispelled her doubts about the correctness of an abortion: She could not lead any other life than this one.

The Rome film scene meets at a glamorous party organized by the press agent Paganelli. In addition to the successful and arrogant star Roberto, the no longer in demand actor Baggini is among the guests. He begs Roberto for at least a supporting role and is unable to resist Roberto's urging to tap on a table, which at his age leads him to the brink of collapse.

Roberto becomes aware of Adriana and sends Baggini to her to ask if she would like to spend the night with Roberto. She refuses and instead gives an interview in front of the camera. Days later she saw the result in the cinema - a report that she mocked as a stupid would-be star - and was shocked.

Once again she runs into Dario, who now has a different one. After a few more days of forced exuberance with a black man, Adriana realizes that the life she leads does not fulfill her. She drives aimlessly through the streets. In the apartment she takes off her wig and falls to her death from the balcony.

To the work

Some see Pietrangeli's film primarily as a critical mirror of a society, a superficial living class that enjoyed the period of the economic miracle of the 1950s and 1960s. The economic miracle turns out to be an imagination, a dream that finally bursts. In this perspective, the main character appears as an unsuspecting victim of a cynical society. The men, as "traders of feelings and illusions", use Adriana, benefit from her sexual openness, without being able to give her much in return.

But I knew her well is also the portrait of an individual personality. Adriana has not yet found her social purpose and position, the image of her is not stable. She can be seen with a wide variety of hairstyles and dresses that change from scene to scene. Her everyday life is filled with dreams of belonging to the glamorous world of film. She is someone who feels little, thinks little and speaks little, who is benign in dealing with other people “to an already criminal extent” and because of her “stupidity” does not notice that the film people are pounding her. Inside, empty, she has an unfulfilled, “great need for love”, is looking for sincere affection. The main actress said of the character that Adriana was ready to believe in love again and again.

Pietrangeli began with the co-authors Ettore Scola and Ruggero Maccari in 1961 to develop the material in a journalistic way. The project dragged on because the producers hesitated because of the sad ending of the story and Sandra Milo, who was originally intended for the lead role, had lost her favor. Also in discussion was the Belgian Catherine Spaak , who had appeared in several Italian comedies. In the meantime, Pietrangeli realized two other works about women to whom men play badly, The Girl from Parma and The Candidate for Marriage .

Stefania Sandrelli, who was ultimately entrusted with the role, later revealed that her then partner Gino Paoli would have preferred it if she had not accepted the role. He feared that audiences might equate her with the unconventional Adriana, and that the role might stick to her. She said of the director that Pietrangeli was a perfectionist who could repeat a scene dozens of times. In addition to the film music by Piero Piccioni , many contemporary hits can be heard. Mina sings E se domani , E troppo tardi and Eclisse twist , Sergio Endrigo Dimmi la verità and Mani bucate , Ornella Vanoni Abbraciami forte , and Peppino di Capri Roberta . The chansonist Gilbert Bécaud gives an Italian version of Toi .

Awards and critical appreciation

I knew her well received the award of the Italian film critics, the Nastro d'Argento, in three categories : for best director, best screenplay and best supporting actor Ugo Tognazzi . In addition, there was the directing award at the Argentine film festival in Mar Del Plata . The film generated sales of Lire 521 million in Italian cinemas.

The filmdienst presented in 1966 found that Pietrangeli practice no social criticism, and that he forbear when you draw the milieu simple effects and exaggerations. In addition to the "haunting photography", the work offers a psychologically precise figure representation. “The film is monotonous in a way. Basically, only one situation is varied over and over, and not even significantly. But it is precisely because of this that he succeeds in precisely drawing a mental state in which many young people find themselves today. "

In 1999 the film enjoyed a restoration funded by Progetto cinema. On this occasion, Sandrelli said that the film scene seemed to have become more serious. Young women need manual skills to pursue a career, but they could more easily achieve fame by watching television. Overall, the film is rarely shown, including in 2009 by the Austrian Film Museum . In the same year it was released on DVD in Italy.

The newspaper La Stampa called I knew you well 2008 Pietrangeli's best film. "Sharp-sighted and with a subtle style, with his way of grasping inner motives, his preference to illuminate details and to describe the surroundings precisely, give the film an unusual strength, especially compared to other comedies of those years." Because this comedy is a assuming an increasingly dark color, their social criticism is anything but superficial. A year later, the Corriere della Sera wrote that the fame of the then rather poorly attended masterpiece had grown over the years. Sandrelli's Adriana remains one of the most memorable portraits of women of the 1960s, victims not only of society but also of a certain mentality.

Olaf Möller from the Austrian Film Museum emphasized on the occasion of a program in 2009 that the film does not provide a complete picture of Adriana: “Thus a masterpiece about images, projections, clichés, preconceptions and reflections, Pietrangeli-according to women and the violence with which men’s society takes them want to make it manageable. A monument, no less. ” The press described Pietrangeli as“ still rather neglected ”and the film as“ presented in many facets ”.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. a b c d Olaf Möller: Io la conoscevo bene (I knew you well) , January 2009
  2. a b Die Presse , January 27, 2010: Strange chaos and boom dreams
  3. a b Dirk Manthey, Jörg Altendorf, Willy Loderhose (eds.): The large film lexicon. All top films from A-Z . Second edition, revised and expanded new edition. tape III . Verlagsgruppe Milchstraße, Hamburg 1995, ISBN 3-89324-126-4 , p. 1379-1380 .
  4. ^ A b Gianni Rondolino: Sandrelli, tragica provinciale , in: La Stampa , November 17, 2008, p. 38
  5. a b c d e f g h Maurizio Porro: «Paoli mi disse :; non fare quel film ti danneggerà » , in: Corriere della Sera , February 25, 2009, p. 29
  6. a b c film-dienst No. 30/1966, drawn by "Mg."
  7. a b c d La Stampa , March 30, 1999, p. 27: Sandrelli: io, tra Pietrangeli e Paoli
  8. ^ Roberto Poppi, Enrico Lancia, Mario Pecorari (eds.): Dizionario del cinema italiano: I film. Volume III, A-L, pp. 316-317. Gremese, Rome 1991-2002, ISBN 88-7605-593-2 .
  9. ^ The New York Times, July 6, 2007, p. 24: Movies