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Subverting rules and reinforcing stereotypes: Italianness in Madonna of the Seven Moons

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This article focuses on a key Gainsborough costume melodrama, Madonna of the Seven Moons (1944). Following the critical revaluation of the 'woman's film', feminist film scholars have celebrated Madonna's feminine aesthetics and extravagant Italian setting, seen as an alternative to the austerity of Britain's wartime self-definition. Using this position as a point of debate, I explore some hitherto ignored implications of the film's representation of Italianness, arguing that Madonna actually reinforces national boundaries by relying on long-established notions of 'Britishness' and 'Italianness', and owes its box-office success to the validation of Italy's ambivalent place in British fantasy.
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Keywords: British Film; Identity; Italianness; Melodrama; Postwar Britain; Stereotypes

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Queen Mary, University of London UK

Publication date: 01 July 2004

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