Gabriele Salvatores’ “Mediterraneo” won the Oscar for best foreign language film, along with a few David’s too. While it is a charming feel-good comedy, I could think of at least five worthy ones from the year that were not even nominated.
The story centres around a platoon of incompetent Italian soldiers who get themselves marooned in a remote Aegean island off Greece during World War II, with no contact with outside world for over three years – a period that also foresaw, unbeknown to them the fall of Mussolini and Italy’s switching of sides to the Allies. During the time, they settle among the Greek residents, some falling in love with local women, while some like the lieutenant take up their pre-war hobbies – he repaints damaged murals in the island’s only church. They finally get rescued one day – but not all of them are willing to leave. The lieutenant returns to the island after several years to discover the former comrades who’d stayed behind have lived full lives there all along.
The film is beautifully made with some stunning locations and great music. It is also mildly witty but you won’t find anything deep here. It also appears to be too sanitised a vision of those horrible times, and the soldiers hardly look like they’ve seen any action in battle. Recommended for those wanting some easy viewing. There’s also a nice deal going on Amazon now for those interested.