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Unrequited Love and Pure Evil: What Can a TV Drama Teach Us about Italian Culture?
AUGUST 8, 2004 – You can tell a lot about a culture from the television that turns on its people. Every Wednesday during the summer, RAI International is repeating the Italian drama Vento di Ponente, a soap opera that revolves around the Ghiglione and De Caro families as they vie for power in Genoa's rich and competitive shipyard business. Seen in Italy during the spring, this third season offers just the right amount of suspense and high drama. But the show is more than a delicious guilty pleasure; it also says something about Italian beliefs. Here are three themes from Vento that will give you insight into the Italian psyche.
Bella figura: It Matters What People Think of You
When Francesca starts falling in love with Marco, a De Caro and therefore arch rival to the Ghiglione family, Emma tells Marco that he and Francesca are actually siblings to keep him away. She strives to keep the vendetta strong, so her family is motivated to work harder and have nothing to do with the De Caros, a family she sees as being a weak enemy.
The superficial belief that a beautiful outside insures a beautiful inside is carried out in almost every character. They all play their parts well by being dressed in elegant, fine clothing with perfect make up and lots of bling-bling. In fact, the fashion show is half the fun for Vento viewers.
Love is Suffering
How do you know? The other couples in the show offer proof. Catherine, who marries Marco when he thinks Francesca is his sister, is really in love with some artist named Alessandro who lives in Roma. Sofia, Francesca's biological aunt and adopted mother, had had an affair with Giacomo, Marco's father, when they were young but it couldn't last because of the family's interference. When Sebastiano, Sofia's husband, finally finds true love with his mistress, he gets killed. How's that for a message? Black-hearted characters like Guido and Alberto who work for the Ghiglione family use relationships and sex as doorways to power and manipulation. The chance for true love in Genoa seems hopeless.
Life's Number One Battle is between Good and Evil
Of course, I hope that the series one day ends with Francesca and Marco living happily ever after despite the Romeo and Juliet foreshadowing. I want to believe that true love will win in the end and justice will be served. But I suppose that wouldn't make for good television.
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