Lina Wertmüller (born Arcangela Felice Assunta Wertmüller von Elgg Spanol von Braueich on August 14, 1928) is a famous Italian film director of aristocratic Swiss descent.
Wertmüller began her career as an actress, performing for over a decade before, in 1962, working as an assistant director on Federico Fellini's 8½. The following year Wertmüller made her directorial debut with The Lizards, a film whose subject matter (the lives of impoverished southern Italians) would become a recurring motif in her later work.
Several other moderately successful films followed, but it was not until 1972 that Wertmüller achieved lasting international acclaim with a series of four movies starring Giancarlo Giannini. The last, and best-received of these, was 1976's Seven Beauties, which earned 4 Academy Award nominations and was an international hit.
Though Wertmüller has had a prolific career since, and is still actively directing, none of her later films have had the same impact as her mid-1970s collaborations with Giannini. Wertmüller is married to Enrico Job, an art designer who worked on several of her pictures.
In general, Wertmüller's films are highly reflective of her own political commitments, with the main characters either dedicated communists, feminists (or both), and the main action centered on conflicts which are political or socio-economic in nature. Despite this, Wertmüller's films are rarely didactic, and often reflect her own iconoclastic sensibilities. Swept Away, for example, tells the story of a rich, liberated industrialist's wife finding erotic fulfillment only after being "tamed" by a macho, communist deck-hand. The film earned the ire of orthodox feminists, one of whom asked in a review whether Wertmüller had now become "one of the boys".
- known for her whimsically prolix movie titles, for instance, the literal translation of the Italian title of Swept Away is "Swept away...by an unusual destiny in the blue sea of August." These titles are invariably shortened for international release.
- first woman ever to have received an Academy Award nomination for Best Director. Jane Campion and Sofia Coppola are the only other female directors to have been nominated.
Select Filmography (as writer and director)
- IMDB: Lina Wertmüller (http://us.imdb.com/Name?Wertm%FCller,%20Lina)