Oscar Movies: Mediterraneo (1991)–Italy’s WWII Fable

Gabriele Salvatores’ Oscar-winning Mediterraneo is set during World War II on a deserted island in the middle of the Aegean Sea.

After their ship is sunk by the British, a unit of Italian soldiers finds refuge on the island, where they realize that the area is not deserted; its citizens have gone into hiding after believing they were under German attack. The Germans have already imprisoned all of the village’s young men.

As the brigade of soldiers, led by one Lt. Montini (Claudio Bigagli), becomes ingrained into island life, they begin repainting the church’s frescoes, start soccer teams, and find time for romance.

Things change, when an Italian pilot (Antonio Catania), who lands on the island, relates the news of the world since the soldiers’ arrival in 1941.

In the end, a British rescue party comes for the soldiers, bringing with them the men who were captured by the Germans years before.

Four decades later, Montini returns, rejoining the few men who could not bring themselves to leave their island refuge.

Many critics hoped that Zhang Yimou’s stunning film, Raise the Red Lanterns, would win the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar.

MPAA: R

Running time: 90 minutes.

Directed By: Gabriele Salvatores

Released: September 9, 1991

DVD:  March 17, 1993