I streamed the movie Sunflower last Sunday. Sunflower stars Sophia Loren and Marcello Mastroianni as first lovers and then husband and wife. The movie is directed by Italian director Vittorio De Sica. It was released on March 14, 1970. Sophia Loren plays Giovanna, Marcello Mastroianni plays Antonio (Anto), Anna Carena plays Antonio’s mother, Lyudmila Savelyeva plays Masha (Maria). The movie is in Italian with English subtitles.
At the start of this film Giovanna tries to find out if her husband is still alive after the end of WWII. Giovanna is accompanied by Anto’s mother who is standing behind her in the above screen cap. Giovanna is frustrated because no one can tell her if Anto is still alive. he is simply among the missing in action. Giovanna returns home believing in her heart that Anto is still alive, even though it has been several years since the war ended. Giovanna promises Anto’s mother that she will not rest until she finds her son. From there the movie tells the story of how Anto and Giovanna got together in flashbacks.
Anto and Giovanna are very amorous lovers.
On the set and getting ready to film a scene in Sunflower.
After just getting out of bed Anto makes an omlette using twenty four eggs. Both devour the omelette with a glass of wine. While Anto and Giovanni are having a good time together WWII breaks out.
Giovanna and Anto get married to delay his having to go off and fight in the war. The delay is only for twelve says though.
Anto and Giovanna come up with a scheme to make people think he is crazy in order to keep him out of the war altogether. Anto pretends to be attacking Giovanna in the street in front of a huge crowd of people.
Giovanna tells military officers that Anto seems to have lost his mind. Anto is declared nuts and is sent to a sanitarium. While Giovanna is visiting Anto at the Sanitarium their scheme to discovered and Anto is given the choice of being court marshaled or Sent to the Russian front to fight.
The war is finally over but Anto has not returned from the war. Giovanna has remained faithful to him and never gives up the belief that her husband is alive. Since the military has not been able to tell Giovanna if her husband is dead or alive, she travels to Russia herself in search of him.
After Giovanna arrives in Russia she shows a picture of Anto to everyone in hopes that they have seen him.
Giovanna even checks all the names in a cemetery in Russia where Italian soldiers were buried. Eventually Giovanna shows Anto’s picture to two women who recognize him and knows where to find him.
Giovanna is devastated to find out that while she has been faithful to her husband all those years, Anto went on to marry and have a child with the woman who rescued him during the war. If it were not for Masha, Anto would have frozen to death out in the Russian fields. Feeling hurt, Giovanna returns to Italy without her husband.
Anto still cares for Giovanni and remembers his love for her, so years later he returns to Italy to explain what the war did to him and how it changed him. Anto also asks Giovanna to return to Russia with him. Anto learns that Giovanna finally moved on with her own life and had a child with another man. Giovanna is thankful to Anto for coming to explain why he did not return to her, but she tells him to go back to Russia without her for the sake of both of their children. Anto does return to Russia and his life with Masha and their daughter.
I enjoyed this movie very much. It showed very clearly how war can change you and the entire rest of your life. It was also very sad that Giovanna lost the love of her life too. The only thing that kind of threw me was the bond they supposedly had because to me their relationship seemed to be based on being lovers and not anything really concrete beyond that. Anto and Giovanna could not keep their hands off of one another. Strong relationship bonds usually go way beyond that.