Friday, December 4, 2015

Gabriele Ferzetti.

17 March 1925 – 2 December 2015

Gabriele Ferzetti, the man who single-handedly got high school Millie to watch '60s Italian cinema. 

(I actually have a distinct memory of sitting and waiting for my driver's ed class to start, while screen-shoting Le Amiche on my laptop.)

As a repeat collaborator with Michelangelo Antonioni, he starred in one of the most iconic films of Italian cinema (and a genuine classic): L'Avventura. Rereading my earlier review of the film has me both chuckling and shaking my head, oh millie

What does stand out to me, however, then, as well as now, is that Gabriele Ferzetti is captivating, charismatic, and so wonderfully fluid and natural in his work. 

Oddly, he is perhaps most compelling when playing depressed, unsuccessful, and unfulfilled men. His performances of quiet desperation are impossible to look away from, but he was not a showy actor by any means. Instead, he relied on a gravitas of charm and giving character's unexplained personal depth. This is likely what makes each of his characters so indelible. They appear to function and exist naturally within each narrative's world.  

However, just as he compelled in existential roles, he could also be legitimately fun and light. 

NOTE: This is definitely serious stuff in a serious movie, but I can't help but cackle at the delivery.

In fact, the first thing I ever saw him in was Jessica. It is, well, not a great movie--BY ANY STANDARD. But, I was so charmed by Gabriele and his interactions with Angie Dickinson that is has lived on in my memory for far longer than I could have expected (it is the definition of forgettable). This is directly tied to his natural and fluid acting: even in the the slightest of films, he brings character.

On a similar note of fun, I just adore him in On Her Majesty's Secret Service. It is routinely considered to be one of the best James Bond films (albeit with the least favorite James Bond actor), and his performance is vital. Commanding and witty and just a little bit on the sketchy side, he enlivens the film considerably. 

And, perhaps, that is the key to Gabriele Ferzetti's acting greatness: life. In every role, no matter how bleak or how ridiculous, he portrayed life. The quietest of performances still spoke of the rolling and moving eccentricities of human existence. He gave particular perspectives, and for that he will be missed.

This screencap is everything to me.


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