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The Sicilian Girl
La siciliana ribelle (The Sicilian Girl) tells of the real life story of a teenage girl suffering great emotional pain caused by one of the numerous Mafia organizations within Italy (Amenta, D’Agostino, Jugnot, & Mazzarella, 2010). This anti-mafia martyr film genre revolves about the life of Rita Mancuso whose father and brother were murdered by the Mafia and the efforts by Italy’s police to bring the organizations to justice. She was born into a family wholly in allegiance to the Mafia and sworn to a code of silence to keep the affairs of the organization to their hearts (Amenta et al., 2010). From a historical context, the secretive society works against the law resulting in crime to remain prevalent in all regions it exists (Dickie, 2004). Violence has historically been the adopted means for conflict resolution among these outlawed entities. Rita understands that her quest of revenge will result in an order from the Mafia dons to eliminate her. As Renga (2011) provides, females affiliated to the Mafia carried immense cultural and psychological burdens. Women in Mafia families had to support amoral and unethical viewpoints which were not necessarily their own a notion progressively held by Rita’s mother. As the film comes to a close, she becomes overly attracted to the prosecutor. One can relate this development to the notion that she was able to identify with a man with similar virtues as hers; one who fearlessly worked to ensure justice was sustained without fear or favor. She also comes to identify that being from a mafia family inadvertently makes her a mafia personality. The only difference is that she seeks justice for two close family members who are also criminals.
One overarching physical similarity amongst women in Mafia films is that they all exude extraordinary beauty. The movies, Goodfellas, the Godfather, and long running TV series, The Sopranos support this fact. Unfortunately, their lives before marriage cease being their own once married into a Mafia family. Those ideals they held regarding what they would like to do in life are pushed to the shadows once they become wives of criminals affiliated to secret entities. The three productions are indicative of the truth that despite the changing times, the role of the woman as a mother, sister, and wife remain the same. The Godfather I and II were produced in the 70’s yet Kay and Mama Corleone’s lives are overly similar to those of Karen and Carmella in Goodfellas and the Sopranos respectively. All these women have a common understanding that there is business and then there is the family. In many cases, the Mafia members hold meetings in their own homes thereby converting it into an office. In such situations, the wives immediately leave the house to them. They are portrayed as housewives who are expected to obey every instruction given by the husband and subjugated to the level of marionette. They are however, very loving and protective mothers though some are given to substance abuse. This can be traced to the fact that they have to endure the thoughts of their husbands being imprisoned or killed as well as the knowledge that their families are never secure.
Alyson Schmid’s work offers rich detail on The Sicilian Girl. Unfortunately, the student did not relate the film with the known historical viewpoints concerning the Mafia as expressed by Dickie (2004). This essay is a display of good understanding about the theme the director sought to express. Rita is indeed blind to the fact that she was born into a mafia family making her a criminal by association. It is only after offering her testimony in court that it dawns on her that her quest cannot be a means for revenge but rather one that demands justice. Schmid illustrates an understanding that daughters like Rita perceive their fathers to be angelic while wives and mothers as portrayed in films like Goodfellas and Godfather are privy to their distinct roles in the family.
Murwin offers an ideal summary of the film La Siciliana Ribelle. His essay shows a good understanding of women’s roles within Mafia families. He relates Rita’s mother seemingly hateful attitude to Rita as stemming from the traditional systems which revolve about allegiance to the organization. Though she destroyed Rita’s epitaph, she expresses a kind of love while grieving privately that only a mother can have for a daughter. This student does to associate the film with the Mafia’s historical traditions. However, Murwin relates the role of other women in mafia films well but does not associate them with Rita in La Siciliana Ribelle.
Amenta, M., D’Agostino, V., Jugnot, G., & Mazzarella, M. (2010). La siciliana ribelle. Chicago, IL: Music Box Films.
Dickie, J. (2004). Cosa Nostra: A history of the Sicilian Mafia. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan.
Renga, D. (Ed.). (2011). Mafia Movies: A Reader. Toronto, Canada: University of Toronto Press.