Tuesday, 23 August 2016

The Iron Nun

"I've learned other life lessons along the way, but the ones that I'd look back and tell my twenty something self now are: It's not what you say, it's what you do; don't pay attention to how old you are, only focus on how old you feel (...)"
Madonna Buder



Marie Dorothy Buder, also known as Madonna Buder and the Iron Nun (a title she earned after completing the 2005 Hawaii Ironman at 75 years old), is a Catholic religious sister and Senior Olympian triathlete. She was born in 1930 and currently holds the world record for the oldest person to ever finish an Ironman Triathlon, i.e., for finishing the Subaru Ironman Canada in 2012 ... when she was 82 years old.
Madonna Buder started training when she was 48 after Father John had told her that it could improve "mind, body, and spirit". When she was 52, she completed her first triathlon; at 55 her first Ironman (via and via). But more about her in Nike's clip.



"I don't know what I'd do without running! I love the feeling I get when I whiz past people younger than me and they say, I want to be like you when I get to your age!"
Madonna Buder

Nike's wonderful new clip with/about Madonna Buder:



Behind the scenes:



"During those days, there wasn't any organized races, (including marathons and triathlons) for women. Those races came out for women eventually, but what she had was just organized by schools. Sister Madonna was 48 when she started running for fun — "Father John told me it would be good for my body and mind" — and it wasn't until 1977 that she actually ran her first race who wasn't really sure if it was OK for her to be running races, since she was the only nun doing so realizing the public wasn't used to a nun running. So to avoid creating slanderous conditions, she checked this all out with the bishop in advance. She told him she wanted to run for the cause of Multiple Sclerosis (MS), but that she wasn't sure how the media would handle it, so she wanted his blessing. He said, "Sister, I wish some of my priests would do what you're doing." (via)

"Asking how she trains for these triathlons, she says she runs to church every day and bikes 40 miles to swim in a lake near her home. She also jogs to her regular visits at the local jail, when it's nice out to talk to the inmates about Jesus and read scriptures to the them - an activity which she says makes her feel "so blessed" to come home from. As for her diet, Sister Buder sticks to a mostly raw diet of fruits and vegetables, but incorporates carbs and protein powder into her meals, and she says she 'listens' to what her body tells her it needs. Last year she had a biking accident where she fractured her pelvis, so while her body heals, she has been water jogging at the YMCA and going in the hot tub to let the jets and heat treat the nerves that are tender, and then she does the elliptical even though her doctor probably wouldn't advise that." (via)



Images via and via and via

Monday, 22 August 2016

Superman says...

"And remember, boys and girls, your school - like our country - is made up of Americans of many different races, religions and national origins. So...
... if YOU hear anybody talk against a schoolmate or anyone else because of his religion, race or national origin - don't wait: tell him THAT KIND OF TALK IS UN-AMERICAN."



The origin of this poster in not known; the fine print on it says that it is from 1956, according to an auction listing the copyright date is 1949. The poster was distributed by the Institute For American Democracy, an offshoot of the Anti-Defamation League and other organisations, such as the Council Against Intolerance (via).

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Image via

Saturday, 20 August 2016

I'm glad I'm a boy! I'm glad I'm a girl!

US-American "witty, gently satiric" cartoonist Whitney Darrow, Jr. (1909-1999) worked most of his career for The New Yorker and printed about 1.500 cartoons in his 50-year-long The-New-Yorker-career (via and via). In 1970, he published what at first glance appeared to be one of the most sexist books ever printed. A great many people are convinced that it was not sexism but satire that inspired Darrow (via). Darrow, in fact, never stated his intentions. Let's sincerely hope that this book was intended to be satirical.



"I'm glad I'm a boy. I'm glad I'm a girl" is based on clear gender binarism and illustrates what makes boys happy versus girls. The examples range from eating habits to career choices ("Boys are doctors." "Girls are nurses."). While today this book is mostly regarded as satire, there is also the criticism that regardless of Darrow's intentions, the book was read by children narrowing the option of who they think they can be (Gazda, 2015).



"According to one coworker, Lee Lorenz, former art director of The New Yorker, “Mr. Darrow was known for his sense of humor and for being shrewdly observant of the contradictions of human behavior (Gussow, 1999).” Whitney Darrow Jr., the author of “I’m Glad I’m a Boy, I’m Glad I’m a Girl,” was a satiric cartoonist from The New Yorker, meaning that he used humor to ridicule people’s stupidity or vices (Satire). So, that being said, in light of the social changes that were taking place during the time of the books creation and release, I conclude that the author wrote the book as a satire on gender roles." (via)

Boys have trucks. Girls have dolls.


Boys are Cub Scouts. Girls are Brownies.


Boys are strong. Girls are graceful.


Boys are handsome. Girls are beautiful.


Boys are doctors. Girls are nurses.
Boys are policemen. girls are metermaids.


Boys are football players. Girls are cheerleaders.
Boys are pilots. Girls are stewardesses.


Boys are heroes.
Girls are heroines.


Boys are Presidents. Girls are First Ladies.
Boys fix things. Girls need things fixed.


Boys can eat. Girls can cook.
Boys invent things. Girls use what boys invent.


Boys build houses. Girls keep houses.
Boys are grooms. Girls are brides.


Boys are fathers. Girls are mothers.
I'm glad you're a girl. I'm glad you're a boy.


We need each other.


- Gazda, C. a. (2015). Once Upon A Time: Exposing Sexism in Children's Literature. Senior Honors Theses, Paper 112
- Images via and via and via and via and via and via and via and via and via and via and via and via and via and via

Thursday, 18 August 2016

"Most husbands, nowadays, have stopped beating their wives, but what can be more agonizing to a sensitive soul than a man's boredom at meals."

The things women have to put up with. Most husbands, nowadays, have stopped beating their wives, but what can be more agonizing to a sensitive soul than a man's boredom at meals. Yet, lady, there must be a reason. If your cooking and not your conversation is monotonous, that's easily fixed. Start using soups more often, with lighter, more varied dishes to follow. Heinz makes 18 varieties. You can serve a different one every day for three weeks. Use them in your cooking too, and strike some new flavours that will lift ordinary dishes out of the commonplace.



Image (National Home Monthly, January 1950) via

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Tintin in the Congo

"I portrayed these Africans according to ... this purely paternalistic spirit of the time."
Hergé



Georges Prosper Remi (1907-1983), known by the pen name Hergé, was a Belgian cartoonist who became famous for creating "Tintin". His first Tintin adventures were published in the conservative Catholic newspaper "Le Petit Vingtième" whose editor-in-chief was Norbert Wallez (1882-1952), a great admirer of Mussolini whose signed portrait he had on his office wall, supporter of the far-right Catholic, nationalist political Rexist Party, a man who was sentenced to four years prison for having collaborated with Germany (via), and who had advised Hergé to create "The Adventures of Tintin" (via). Later, Hergé regretted his early work that was very much influenced by his editor-in-chief's nationalist and racist attitudes.
“The fact is that while I was growing up, I was being fed the prejudices of the bourgeois society that surrounded me. It’s true that Soviets and Congo were youthful sins. I’m not rejecting them. However, if I were to do it again, they would be different.” Hergé


Tintin in the Congo shows blackface Africans resembling monkeys, people who were savage before the arrival of white men, hence grateful for being colonialised.

Colonialism, by the way,  knows no limits. The 1939 Portuguese version of "Tintin in the Congo" was turned into "Tintin in Angola" (Tim-Tim em Angola) as the "Portuguese publisher clearly felt that their country's superiority over its colony Angola was identical to Belgium's superiority over the Congo" (via). Angola was decolonised and became an autonomous state only in 1972 (via).



The following geography lesson was later changed into a maths class. In the original version (Hergé made several changes before publishing a colour version of the album in 1946), Tintin said:
"My dear friends, today I'm going to talk to you about your fatherland: Belgium!"




"I do not want to risk...losing a fine chance to secure for ourselves a slice of this magnificent African cake."
Leopold II

The glorification of colonisation becomes extremely bizarre when considering the greed-induced atrocities and genocide in Congo. Leopold II of Belgium (1835-1909) was the founder and sole owner of the Congo Free State (1885-1908) and its people. The Belgian government lent him money to acquire a colony as a private citizen and after failing to acquire the Philippines, he shifted his aspirations of colonisation to Africa. Leopold II organised "a private holding company disguised as an international scientific and philanthropic association, which he called the International African Society, or the International Association for the Exploration and Civilization of the Congo". Fourteen European nations and the United States recognised him as sovereign of an area 76 times larger than Belgium and Leopold II "promised to bring civilisation to the so-called dark continent". What he did, in fact, was to extract an enormous personal fortune (a fortune he left to Caroline Lacroix who was a 16 year-old sex worker when he started a liaison with her aged 65) by the collection of ivory and rubber and the unfree labour from the natives enforced by two thousand white agents. Beatings, mutilations, enforced public incest and widespread killing were methods to ensure production quotas were met. Estimates of death toll are up to fifteen million, about half the population was killed directly via shootings or indirectly via imported epidemics and starvation. Public pressure and diplomatic manoeuvres led to the end of his rule and to the annexation of the Congo as a colony of Belgium in 1908 (via and via and via and via). When Leopold II died, the king's funeral cortege was booed (via).
"The rubber question is accountable for most of the horrors perpetrated in the Congo. It has reduced the people to a state of utter despair. Each town in the district is forced to bring a certain quantity to the headquarters of the Commissary every Sunday. It is collected by force; the soldiers drive the people into the bush, if they will not go they are shot down, their left hands being cut off and taken as trophies to the Commissary. The soldiers do not care whom they shoot down, and they most often shoot poor helpless women and harmless children. These hands -- the hands of men, women and children -- are placed in rows before the Commissary, who counts them to see the soldiers have not wasted the cartridges. The Commissary is paid a commission of about a penny per pound upon all the rubber he gets; it is, therefore, to his interest to get as much as he can."
Mr. Murphy
"If the rubber does not reach the full amount required, the sentinels attack the natives. They kill some and bring the hands to the Commissary. Others are brought to the Commissary as prisoners. At the beginning they came with their smoked hands. The sentinels, or else the boys in attendance on them, put these hands on a little kiln, and after they had been smoked, they by and by put them on the top of the rubber baskets. I have on many occasions seen this done."
Mr. Sjoblom 
"The former white man (I feel ashamed of my colour every time I think of him) would stand at the door of the store to receive the rubber from the poor trembling wretches who after, in some cases, weeks of privation in the forest, had ventured in with what they had been able to collect. A man bringing rather under the proper amount, the white man flies into a rage, and seizing a rifle from one of the guards, shoots him dead on the spot. Very rarely did rubber come in but one or more were shot in that way at the door of the store -- 'to make the survivors bring more next time.' Men who had tried to run from the country and had been caught, were brought to the station and made to stand one behind the other, and an Albini bullet sent through them. 'A pity to waste cartridges on such wretches.'"
Mr. Scrivener
"I was shown round the place, and the sites of former big chiefs' settlements were pointed out. A careful estimate made the population, of say, seven years ago, to be 2,000 people in and about the post, within a radius of, say, a quarter of a mile. All told, they would not muster 200 now, and there is so much sadness and gloom that they are fast decreasing..... Lying about in the grass, within a few yards of the house I was occupying, were numbers of human bones, in some cases complete skeletons. I counted thirty-six skulls, and saw many sets of bones from which the skulls were missing. I called one of the men, and asked the meaning of it. 'When the rubber palaver began,' said he, 'the soldiers shot so many we grew tired of burying, and very often we were not allowed to bury, and so just dragged the bodies out into the grass and left them. There are hundreds all round if you would like to see them.' But I had seen more than enough, and was sickened by the stories that came from men and women alike of the awful time they had passed through. The Bulgarian atrocities might be considered as mildness itself when compared with what has been done here....
Mr. Scrivener
"Having claimed, as I have shown, the whole of the land, and therefore the whole of its products, the State -- that is, the King -- proceeded to construct a system by which these products could be gathered most rapidly and at least cost. The essence of this system was that the people who had been dispossessed (ironically called "citizens") were to be forced to gather, for the profit of the State, those very products which had been taken from them. This was to be effected by two means; the one, taxation, by which an arbitrary amount, ever growing larger until it consumed almost their whole lives in the gathering, should be claimed for nothing. The other, so-called barter, by which the natives were paid for the stuff exactly what the State chose to give, and in the form the State chose to give it, there being no competition allowed from any other purchaser. This remuneration, ridiculous in value, took the most absurd shape, the natives being compelled to take it, whatever the amount, and however little they might desire it. Consul Thesiger, in 1908, describing their so-called barter, says: 'The goods he proceeds to distribute, giving a hat to one man, or an iron hoe-head to another, and so on. Each recipient is then at the end of a month responsible for so many balls of rubber. No choice of the objects is given, no refusal is allowed. If any one makes any objection, the stuff is thrown down at his door, and whether it is taken or left, the man is responsible for so many balls at the end of the month. The total amounts are fixed by the agents at the maximum which the inhabitants are capable of producing.'"
Arthur Conan Doyle
More:
::: King Leopold's Soliloquy, by Mark Twain, 1918: DOWNLOAD
::: The Crime of the Congo, by Arthur Conan Doyle, 1909: DOWNLOAD
::: Heart of Darkness, by Joseph Conrad, 1899: LINK
::: Leopold II of Belgium: Racism, Slavery, and Genocide in Congo, BBC: WATCH
::: Nsala of Wala in Congo looks at the severed hand and foot of his five-year old daughter, 1904: LINK



Due to the racist depictions, in 2007, the Borders chain of bookshops moved "Tintin in the Congo" to the adult graphic novels areas, Waterstones followed their example. Other retailers sell the album with a label saying that it is unsuitable for readers under the age of 16. The book's publisher Egmont UK placed a protective band around the book with a warning about the content and included an introduction explaining the historical content. The album was not published in English until 1991 and is the only Tintin album that has never been published in the United States. Some libraries have restricted public access to the album and render it available only upon request and appointment (via and via). After complaints, the South African publisher of "Tintin in the Congo" said it would cancel plans to release an Afrikaans translation of it (via).

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images via and via and via and via and via and via

Thursday, 11 August 2016

The Backlash Blues

"Backlash Blues" is one of Nina Simone's civil rights songs. The lyrics were written by poet, novelist and social activist James Mercer Langston Hughes who was one of the most important thinkers of Harlem Renaissance and a close friend of Nina Simone's (via).



Mr. Backlash, Mr. Backlash
Just who do think I am
You raise my taxes, freeze my wages
And send my son to Vietnam

You give me second class houses
And second class schools
Do you think that alla colored folks
Are just second class fools
Mr. Backlash, I'm gonna leave you
With the backlash blues

When I try to find a job
To earn a little cash
All you got to offer
Is your mean old white backlash
But the world is big
Big and bright and round
And it's full of folks like me
Who are black, yellow, beige and brown
Mr. Backlash, I'm gonna leave you
With the backlash blues

Mr. Backlash, Mr. Backlash
Just what do you think I got to lose
I'm gonna leave you
With the backlash blues
You're the one will have the blues
Not me, just wait and see

Nina Simone



The song:
::: Backlash Blues (Montreaux, 1976): WATCH/LISTEN
::: Backlash Blues (Paris, 1968): WATCH/LISTEN



The following text was also written by Langston Hughes (for the liner notes to Nina Simone's album "Broadway-Blues-Ballads).

The One and Only Nina Simone, a tribute by Langston Hughes:

She is strange. So are the plays of Brendan Behan, Jean Genet, LeRoi Jones, and Bertold Brecht.

She is far out, and at the same time common. So are raw eggs in Worcestershire and the CONNECTION.

She is different. So was Billie Holiday, St. Francis, and John Donne. So is Mort Sahl. So is Willie Mays.

She is a club member, a colored girl, an Afro-American, a homey from Down Home. She has hit the Big Town, the big towns, the LP discs and the TV shows–and she is still from down home. She did it mostly all by herself. Her name is Nina Simone.

She has a flair, but no air. She has class, but does not wear it on her shoulders. Only chips. She is unique. You either like her or you don’t. If you don’t, you won’t. If you do–wheee-ouuu-eu! You do!

Some folks never did learn to like Billie Holiday. Some folks don’t like Eartha Kitt. To some Edith Piaf never meant peanuts. To others Mabel Mercer could come for free, and Jackie Mabley is not worth a dime. Bert Williams may be drug your mama and Valida Snow your papa. Tastes differ. For some tastes Ethel Waters was and Pearl Bailey is, Bing Crosby was and Frank Sinatra is, George Walker was and Sammy Davis is. But Elvis, No! Ornette Coleman, not Barbara Dane, not Jacob Lawrence, never! And don’t mention Lotte Lenya.

Everybody has a right to like whoever he likes and whatever he likes in life and in the arts. Some folks in religion like the Rev. Howard Thurman, some like Father Divine, others prefer Benjamin Mays and some Mother Horne. In literature many read Frank Yerby and some read James Baldwin.

In politics some like Goldwater and some like Nasser. In food some like chitterlings, some caviar.

In entertainment some like Nipsey Russell, some like Charles Aznavour, some like Dorothy Donegan, and some like Nina Simone.

Why should anyone like her because she plays piano well? So do lots of other people. But she plays piano FLUIDLY well, SIMPLY well, COMPLICATEDLY well, THEATRICALLY well, DRAMATICALLY well, INDIVIDUALLY well, and MADLY well. Not just WELL.

Why should one like Nina Simone because she sings a song differently? Plenty of singers sing songs differently. But many singers strain so hard to be different, pay arrangers so much money to make their songs sound different, but have no convictions themselves about what they are singing, and so seem hollow, artificial, fake, and wrong when they sing a song. Nina Simone is as different as beer is from champagne, crackers from crepes suzettes, Eastland from Adam Powell, Houston from Paris– each real in their way, but Oh! how different– and how fake it is if it is not Houston you want but the “city of light.”

The letters l-i-v-e that spell LIVE mean exactly the same as the letters N-i-n-a that spell NINA. As for that word SIMONE–be cool, Jack, be cool! And listen to this album.

Langston Hughes

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Related postings:
- The day Nina Simone's skin grew a little more black
- Nina Simone

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photographs of Nina Simone (BBC TV Centre, 1968, by David Redfern) via and via and via, copyrights by the respective owners

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples: The Right to Education

This year's International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples is devoted to the right to education.
“Indigenous peoples have the right to establish and control their educational systems and institutions providing education in their own languages, in a manner appropriate to their cultural methods of teaching and learning.” (United Nations)

Photograph: School children stand on the deck of boat near St. Michael's Indian Residential School, Alert Bay, B.C. (National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation Archives) (via)

- The present:

"Barriers to education for indigenous students include stigmatization of indigenous identity and low selfesteem of indigenous learners; discriminatory and racist attitudes in the school environment, including in textbooks and materials and among non-indigenous students and teachers; language barriers between indigenous learners and teachers; inadequate resources and low prioritization of education for indigenous peoples, reflected in poorly trained teachers as well as lack of textbooks and resources."

"In Nunavut, the northernmost territory in Canada, Inuit high-school graduation rates are well below average, and only 40 per cent of all school-age indigenous children are attending school full time.
In Australia, participation of indigenous 15-19 year-olds in higher education stood at 60 per cent in 2013, well below the 80 per cent participation for all Australians in the same age group.
In the Latin America and Caribbean region, on average, 85 per cent of indigenous children attend secondary education, but only 40 per cent complete that level of education."
(United Nations)

- The link:

"The present plight, in terms of health, employment, education, living conditions and selfesteem, of so many Aborigines must be acknowledged as largely flowing from what happened in the past. The dispossession, the destruction of hunting fields and the devastation of lives were all related. The new diseases, the alcohol and the new pressures of living were all introduced. True acknowledgment cannot stop short of recognition of the extent to which present disadvantage flows from past injustice and oppression …"
(Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Australia, 1997)

- The past:

"The aim of education is to destroy the Indian."
Nicholas Flood David Report, 1879

"Canada’s residential school system for Aboriginal children was an education system in name only for much of its existence. These residential schools were created for the purpose of separating Aboriginal children from their families, in order to minimize and weaken family ties and cultural linkages, and to indoctrinate children into a new culture—the culture of the legally dominant Euro-Christian Canadian society, led by Canada’s first prime minister, Sir John A. Macdonald. The schools were in existence for well over 100 years, and many successive generations of children from the same communities and families endured the experience of them."

"In justifying the government’s residential school policy, Canada’s first prime minister, Sir John A. Macdonald, told the House of Commons in 1883:
When the school is on the reserve the child lives with its parents, who are savages; he is surrounded by savages, and though he may learn to read and write his habits, and training and mode of thought are Indian. He is simply a savage who can read and write. It has been strongly pressed on myself, as the head of the Department, that Indian children should be withdrawn as much as possible from the parental influence, and the only way to do that would be to put them in central training industrial schools where they will acquire the habits and modes of thought of white men.
(Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, 2015)

As Missionary Hugh McKay put it in 1903, the Indian residential school system was established to "kill the Indian in the child" (via).

- The future:

"Efforts should be made to ensure that indigenous peoples have access to education that is culturally and linguistically appropriate and that does not aim at or result in unwanted assimilation.
Instruction in the mother-tongue language is recommended for indigenous children, youth and adults. Where indigenous language is not the mother language (i.e. where the language is not being transmitted), language revitalization programmes should be integrated into the education system.
The educational attainment of indigenous women and girls often lags behind that of other segments of the population. Special priority must be given to ensuring that indigenous women and girls have access to and benefit from education.
Second chance, vocational training and adult literacy education programmes are an important element of inclusive education with many long-lasting benefits for indigenous peoples."
(United Nations)


Photograph: Girls brushing teeth in residential school (via)

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- Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Australia (1997) Bringing them home. National Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children from Their Families, 524 pages (pdf)
- Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (2015) Honouring the Truth, Reconciling for the Future. Summary of the Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, 536 pages (pdf)

Sunday, 7 August 2016

Born this day: Elinor Ostrom

"We've already entered a new era and we recognise that women have the capabilities of doing great scientific work. And yes, I appreciate that this is an honour to be the first woman but I won't be the last."
Elinor Ostrom


Photograph: Elinor Ostrom (Manitoulin Island, 1968, Elinor Ostrom Collection, The Lilly Library)

Elinor Claire "Lin" Ostrom (7 August 1933 - 12 June 2012) was the first - and so far only - woman to be awarded the Nobel memorial Prize in Economic Sciences (2009) and the first woman to receive the William H. Riker Prize in political science (2008). Ostrom was awarded several other prizes ... years after struggling to be admitted to the PhD programme:
"That was an entirely different picture. It was in this hostile environment where a lot of the faculty did not like it that there were women in the programme. Economics just said 'no' and part of the reason they said that was because I had not had any math in college. And much of the reason for that was that in my high school they didn't let girls take trigonometry unless they got an A in algebra and geometry." Elinor Ostrom
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More:
::: Elinor Ostrom's Prize Lecture, 8 December 2009 (37 pages): Beyond Markets and States: Polycentric Governance of Complex Economic Systems
::: Elinor Ostrom (29 pages): Understanding Institutional Diversity

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photograph via

Thursday, 4 August 2016

Quoting Anna Magnani

"Please don't retouch my wrinkles. It took me so long to earn them."
Anna Magnani



"A divorcee is a women who got married so she didn't have to work, but now works so she doesn't have to get married."
Anna Magnani



Photograps of Anna Magnani (1908-1973) via and via

Monday, 1 August 2016

Una giornata particolare | A Special Day

When Ettore Scola, Carlo Ponti, Sophia Loren and Marcello Mastroianni work together, something very special is about to be created. "A Special Day" is a 1977 Italian film directed by Ettore Scola (1931-2016) who - according to Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi- had "an ability that was as incredible as it was razor-sharp in reading Italy, its society and the changes it went through" and whose death left "a huge void in Italian culture" (via), a film produced by Carlo Ponti (1912-2007) who had also produced "Marriage Italian Style" and Federico Fellini's "La strada", a film starring often awarded Marcello Mastroianni (1924-1996) and often awarded Sophia Loren. "A Special Day" is on the list of the "100 films that have changed the collective memory of the country between 1942 and 1978".



Antonietta (Sophia Loren) is a resigned and overworked homemaker, mother of six, wife of vulgar fascist husband Emanuele (John Vernon). She is barely literate and keeps a scrapbook of Mussolini's life who she enthusiastically supports. Gabriele (Marcello Mastroianni) is an intelligent, charming, sensitive and sardonic man who lives alone. He is a radio broadcaster, a critical opponent of the regime, who has been dismissed from his job and is soon to be deported to Sardinia where homosexuals "couldn't contaminate the Fascist culture" (via and via).

In the virile regime of fascist Italy, homosexual men undermined the image of Italian manhood Mussolini wanted to project. The regime did not pass discriminatory laws but created a climate that supported the suppression of open manifestations of homosexuality. Gay men were sent to Sardinia where they were locked inside dormitories under the supervision of the police. "Unwittingly, the Fascists had created a corner of Italy where you were expected to be openly gay." Ironically, they were free of stigma and could be themselves. While openly gay men could not leave their homes without being arrested, on the island the arrival of someone new was celebrated. In 1939, the men were returned to the places they had come from and stayed in a kind of house arrest (via).



On the day Hitler visits Mussolini in Rome, Antonietta stays home and starts a day like all other days doing domestic tasks. She is alone, her husband and six children follow the fascist parade. In fact, the whole building is empty as almost everybody seems to be participating in the rally and hysterically receiving the dictators.
That day, Antonietta and Gabriele meet in the empty apartment block when she tries to find Rosamunda, her escaped mynah bird that flies to the other side of the courtyard.
"This is the device that brings Antonietta and Gabriele together for almost two hours of comic and touching confidences, arguments and self-searching that lead, eventually, to a love scene that is simultaneously ecstatic and forlorn. It's something, I suspect, that only Miss Loren and Mr. Mastroianni could bring off so triumphantly." The New York Times
"The film stresses how repression can be a common bond between two very different people." The Guardian


At first, Antonietta does not know about Gabriele's homosexuality, flirts with him and confides to him her troubles with her unfaithful husband. They spend intimate hours with each other. At the end of the day, Antonietta sits near the window reading a book Gabriele has given her. From the window she watches him leaving the complex in the dark, escorted by fascist policemen. She turns off the light and goes to bed where her husband is waiting to patriotically produce the seventh child for Italy (via and via). "A Special Day" is one of Ettore Scola's masterpieces.



images via and via and via and via