Film Scouts Diaries

2004 Taormina BNL Filmfest Diaries
Rififi Women

by Philipp Hoschka

Taormina, June 14, 2004 - Whatever will happen in "Ocean's Twelve", the sequel to "Ocean's Eleven" currently being filmed in Rome, we can be quite sure that George Clooney will not take his belt and use it to whip Julia Roberts for betraying him. Times have changed. In 1955, this sort of thing was still standard procedure in heist movies, as could be seen today in "Rififi", Jules Dassin's classic film and the model for nearly every robbery movie made ever since, including all TV features and movies with "Mission Impossible" in the title, and, of course, "Ocean's Eleven" and "Ocean's Twelve".

Shown in the "50-years of cinema in Taormina" retrospective today, "Rififi" has of course the seminal safe-cracking scene where not a word is spoken for 28 minutes (no music either, all we here is the sound of the tools used to execute the robbery), and that could occur in a similar way in a movie today. It has the overall bleak and existentialist outlook on the world that is also typical for modern "film noir".

What is strikingly not modern about "Rififi" is the portrayal of women in the movie. They are forced to stand by and watch anxiously while the men do what they have to do. The Hollywood dream machine's take on feminism seems to have all-but-eliminated these sort of passive women's roles in modern movies which, as we all know, don't necessarily reflect reality either, but maybe Hollywood role models will have an impact on real life at some point.

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