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Film / Mediterraneo

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Mediterraneo is a 1991 film from Italy directed by Gabriele Salvatores.

In June of 1941 a squad of eight Italian soldiers are sent to occupy the Greek island of Megisti, a flyspeck in the ocean that is said to be of absolutely no strategic importance. They're led by Lt. Montini, a schoolteacher in civilian life who likes to paint. His second in command is Sgt. Lo Russo, a macho, affable type. Among the rest of the little squad are brothers, Felice and Libero Munaron; Strazzabosco, who brought his donkey along and may like the donkey a little too much; and Farina, Montini's aide, who is quiet and sensitive.

The men are terrible soldiers. They fire at squawking chickens (which nearly gets Farina killed), they forget passwords, and mostly they just want to go home. The mission is four months of lookout duty, but no sooner are they dropped off than the ship which dropped them off is sunk by a British bomber. Soon after that Strazzabosco, in a fit of rage after his bumbling squad mates shoot and kill his donkey, freaks out and smashes the platoon's only radio. That rash act leaves the men totally cut off, unable to leave the island or call for help. So they settle in for the long haul. Megisti is revealed to have its perks, which include a sexy shepherdess as well as Vasillisa, the even sexier village prostitute.


  • Abandoned Area: The squad lands on the island to find it deserted. It turns out that the Germans arrived first, and arrested all the men. So the locals on the island hide in the interior for a while until they determine that the Italian soldiers are no threat.
  • Anguished Declaration of Love: More or less out of nowhere, one of the soldiers, Colasanti, confesses his love to Lo Russo. Nothing comes of it, as Lo Russo basically blinks and pretends like nothing happened.
  • Answer Cut: Subverted, in a Bait-and-Switch moment. Lt. Montini, visiting the island once more as an old man, wonders about Farina, thinking "Where did you end up?". Cut to Montini in a cemetery looking at a gravestone—but it's not Farina's grave, it's the resting place of his wife Vasillisa. Farina is alive and well and running a restaurant.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Verging on Sudden Downer Ending for what up to the end is a light comedy. Montini returns to the island to find Farina still there, running his restaurant, but Farina's wife Vasillisa died long ago. To his surprise Montini also finds Lo Russo, who says that he thought Italy could be rebuilt stronger and better after the war. But it wasn't, and nothing changed, so a disappointed Lo Russo left and came back to the island to work with Farina.
  • Camp Follower: While most of the locals are hiding, Vasillisa the local prostitute stays to offer her services. She later marries one of the soldiers.
  • Captain Smooth and Sergeant Rough: Sort of. Lt. Montini is the "smooth" type to be sure; he spends all his time on the island painting frescoes in the church. When Sgt. Lo Russo is yelling at the others not to fraternize with the locals, they ask him why he's screaming, and he says he'll scream whenever he wants to "because sergeants scream". But before too long he acclimated to the relaxed and easygoing island just as much as the other men do.
  • *Click* Hello: Without even a click, just Strazzabosco jamming the barrel of his rifle into Farina's neck, demonstrating how Farina is not exactly vigilant while on guard duty.
  • Comforting Comforter: The first sign that Farina is developing feelings for Vasillisa is when he pulls a sheet up over her, after the rest of the platoon has cycled through her bedroom.
  • Distant Finale: The last scene skips forward decades, to show Lt. Montini making one more visit to the island.
  • Going Native: The Italians on the little Greek island gradually integrate more and more with the locals. After the Turkish merchant steals their weapons, they don't even bother to wear uniforms anymore.
  • Italians Talk with Hands: Apparently they do, because this is an actual Italian movie which shows Italians talking with a lot of wild gesticulation, specifically in stressful/emotional moments, like when Farina nearly gets shot by friendly fire from his squad mates.
  • Mildly Military: Lt. Montini's heart isn't in soldiering, and his men are mostly incompetent. They forget the password and the counter password. They shoot Strazzabosco's mule while out on sentry. Finally a Turkish merchant gets them high on hash and then steals all their stuff while they're sleeping it off.
  • No Antagonist: There are no bad guys, except for the Turkish merchant who lands on the island and winds up stealing all the soldiers' stuff. In fact there is no conflict, as the men enjoy the delights of Megisti for nearly four years until a British boat finally shows up to take them away.
  • Polyamory: The lustful shepherdess spends the war having sex with both Munaron brothers. And everybody's perfectly fine with it.
  • Scenery Porn: A lot of stunning scenery of the little island and the Mediterranean.
  • Skinnydipping: The Munaron brothers go skinnydipping with the shepherdess.
  • A Threesome Is Hot: An extremely rare instance of this trope in which two brothers are paired up with one woman. The Munaron brothers spend World War II on the mountaintop lookout, having Three-Way Sex with the shepherdess.
  • Whatever Happened to the Mouse?: Noventa is desperate to get off the island, trying to hitch a ride with both the Turkish merchant and the Italian pilot. Eventually he finds a hidden rowboat, and sets off to row to the island of Rhodes. He's last seen singing happily as he rows, with no indication of whether he actually managed to make an extremely dangerous two-day trip in a rowboat.