US/Italy, 1969, 108 minutes, Colour.
Omar Sharif, Anouk Aimee, Lotte Lenya.
Directed by Sidney Lumet.
Sidney Lumet's film is a look at modern love. Deceptively designed like a woman's fashion romance (Rome, Omar Sharif and Anouk Aimee reminding us of A Man And A Woman), The Appointment finally emerges as a moving adult drama. What starts as the hero's fascination moves to a modern parallel of the Othello theme of loving jealousy. Our attention is held in suspense as well since many indications are given that the wife is a fashionable prostitute, a mystery which is not solved till the last few minutes of the film. I would like to draw adults' attention to this film, also those in their final years at school. The implications of marriage and the frightening power of jealousy are more real than glib arguments about sex.
1. Was this a good film? The critics were very severe on it. It was not popular. Yet it was directed by Sidney Lumet., who has great fame, had predominant stars. The overall impact?
2. The purpose of making the film? For what audience? In terms of interest, enjoyment, involvement and understanding of themes?
3. The Roman setting and its atmosphere, how particularly Italian was the film? The presentation of Row, the railways, Milan, the countryside and the lake? The lyric side of Row as well as the urban side?
4. The film was about Federico. How much involvement with his was there on the part of the audience? Omar Sharif in the role? A man who is handsome and young, wealthy, capable in his work, of great charm? Expectations of his being a good man? The introduction to him as a good man? And yet his destructive elements? Was this a credible portrait of a man?
5. How fearful is this capacity of an ordinary person, even a good person for evil and destruction? How credibly did the film portray this them?
6. The presentation of Federico and his character: his strengths of character, weaknesses? His involvement in his work. his living with his mother and her effect on him? His friendship with Renzo?
7. The impact of Carla on his life? The initial absorption and infatuation, his following her in the car, the happiness of the encounter at the meal, the device of not having the sound to show his absorption in her? The chance meeting her again and accosting her in the street? The chance request on her part for his help? The growing in love? He said that he wanted her as his wife. Why? What idea of wife did he have, what expectations?
8. Comment on the kind of love that developed in Federico: its possessive aspects, its particularly masculine dominance, the sensual and sexual side? The underlying jealousy and suspicions?
9. The preparation for Federico's destructiveness in the impulsiveness of his trip to Milan (and yet his charm to the old lady in the train carriage?), his believing Renzo's story, his accosting his cousin, actually seeking out the brothel, the various visits and the technique of ingratiating himself with the proprietor, his encounter with the girl in the room? Would he ever be satisfied? Why? Did he want Carla to be guilty? Was he devising situations to prove her guilt?
10. Audience interest in and sympathy towards Carola? What kind of girl was she, erratic in her emotions, her work,. her charm? The men in the audience sharing Federico’s fascination? The women sharing sympathy, and the sympathy of her friend? Her growing in love of Federico, sharing the meals, the walks,. the outings? The importance of the weekend and her being hurt by him? What was Federico trying to do at the weekend? Her sadness and depression, the significance of the overdose and its coincidence with the prostitute not arriving? The importance of the reconciliation scene in the hospital? A good basis for marriage?
11. The marriage and the possibilities for happiness? The importance of the trip to the island? The contrasted happiness with the other visit? The significance of their lovemaking in the field and the lengthening distance of the shot ~ with the camera in a helicopter. Carla presented at the fashion show and her not taking part? Accepting her marriage status? Trying to please her husband? Yet his questions about the magazines, where she drank coffee, her teeth? His treating her as a sex object in the bedroom? Was it credible that she should be driven to suicide? Did Federico's behaviour create a situation where this was inevitable?
12. How was Renzo a Iago figure? At the start with his story about Carla and the cousin and the pin, his hinting about the Milan trip, his asking about seeing Federico at the opera and the questions about identity and mistakes? What part did he play in Federico's jealousy?
13. The proprietor of the brothel, her way of life, the discussion about fascism, her arranging prostitutes? Her friendship with Federico? His fears at her place, her soothing him, offering him a drink, talking? Her arranging the appointment? The importance of Federico's parking the car and running to the appointment ?
14. The contrast with the impact of Carla's death? Her ringing her friend as the only one she could communicate with? What was the impact of the death on Federico? Was he still suspicious?
15. The impact on the audience as well as Federico of the proprietor's final call? The fact that he was wrong?
16. How much insight into men-women relationships, love, jealousy, hatred?