Mediterraneo epitomises the difference between Hollywood and the demands of a largely US audience and the subtler approach of the European director/writer who seeks simply to express him/herself through the medium. I read two reviews in the Washington Post both of which managed to misunderstand the film completely, one going so far as to characterise the cast as "Marx Brothers". In fact, they are probably the finest ensemble of characters I have ever seen in film - a completely disparate group of individuals who nearly all manage to find spiritual (and sexual) fulfulment in the sensuality of Aegean island life.
The film is multi-layered and, the more obvious ones, such as the powerful anti-war message and the venality of post-Fascist Italy are often mentioned. But no-one has ever picked up on the phrase "una face, una race" which is repeated throughout the film. This is the nostrum that Italians and Greeks have a common Mediterranean heritage (come on Washington Post hacks - didn't the title give you a clue?) and that there is an enormous irony in the Italians - who rightly pride themselves on the antiquity of their civilisation - seeking to subdue another culture whose origins are 2000 years older.
This is underlined by the easy participation of the soldiers in both high and low Greek culture, .....the painting of the frescoes in the church (n.b. the Orthodox Church predating the Holy Roman Empire by centuries - clever eh!) and the wonderful unifying theme of football, which only a European or South American viewer could truly appreciate.
The group's ambivalent attitude to sexual mores adds to the sense of the place as essentially a home for Greco-Roman sensuality - a fact which is gloriously exposed with the later juxtaposition of our band of heroes with the starched British Royal Navy officers who arrive to remove them from the island.
I have not seen any mention in other reviews of the beautiful cadence of the Italian dialogue - as lilting as the bazouki music which accompanies much of the film.
The sense of disillusionment that takes over the film at the end is very powerful and it is no accident that Salvatore shows us the Lieutenant returning to the island on a ferry full of burnt-pink tourists.
This is a film that can only truly be appreciated if you have a feeling for, and understanding, of European culture. This is a film for grown-ups.
Mediterraneo demonstrates that though box-office grosses for European films are small (unless it is something produced explicity for a US audience, like the truly dreadful Four Weddings) our directors have managed to stay true to their craft.
Everyone's seen Saving Private Ryan. One of the greatest WWII films of all time, and yet a big part of this war is left out. The Italians. They were one of the reasons that the UN failed and they also caused one of the two crisis before the beginning of the war.
And yet a hadn't seen a WWII film with the Italians in, until Mediterraneo and even though it's mainly based on love and very light humour throughout it still held strong views about what happened to the Italians as the war progressed.
As always Italian films try to get the lighter side of anything that is harsh or wrong, and Mediterraneo is no different. With the beautiful Greek landscapes mixed in with superb photography and camera work it certainly shows a certain lighter side to the war and destruction happening around the world.
The humour throughout is extremely Itailian and easy for everyone to understand, and long running jokes also kept me involed in the film for the entire running time.
But since this is a film about war there had to be some despair, and as the film comes to the end the characters state there views on what they will do as the English come to rescue them. And eventually the survivors realise that it was best to stay on the island and not gone back to italy for there was nothing good or decent to do back there. It was no different to Mussolini's reign of facist terror.