Sunflower (1970) - full transcript

At the end of World War II, Giovanna, a war bride living near Milan refuses to accept that her husband, Antonio, missing on the Russian front, is dead. There's a flashback to their brief courtship near her hometown of Naples, his 12-day leave to marry her, ruses to keep from deployment, and the ultimate farewell. Some years after the war, still with no word from Antonio, Giovanna goes to Russia to find him, starting in the town near the winter battle when he disappeared. Armed with his photograph, what will she find?

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SUNFLOWER

Would family members

and those here to inquire
about men missing at the Russian front

from 1 942 to 1 944

please line up on the right

at counter number 1 4.

On the right.

I repeat:

Counter number 1 4.

Ma'am, ifyou have not received
notification from the War Ministry...

it means that your husband's death
has not been verified.



So he's alive.

Well, he could certainly be alive.

We consider him missing.

What does that mean? Missing?

Does that mean he's alive?

He could be alive.
But we know absolutely nothing.

Neither do l!
Neither does his mother!

How is it possible?

Ma'am, officially,
he's not dead, as l explained.

So he's alive then!
l want to know if he's alive!

You have to tell me!
Do you understand?

ls he alive?

Just tell me! He's alive!

l'll find him, ma'am.



You'll stop wearing black.

l'll bring back your son.
l'll bring him home.

l'm sure of it.
Even if l have to search all of Russia.

l will.

Anto, Anto!

Anto, are you okay?

Are you okay?

Where's my earring?

Did you swallow it?

What will l do? lt was gold!

What about me? l'll get an ulcer!

Get a drink.

Drink!

Where will l find water?

Over there.
There's a whole sea ofwater. Drink.

- lt's too salty.
- The sea is salty.

Okay, l feel better.
Let's hope l can digest it, and then-

You're so cute.

What's that, Arabic?
l don't understand a word. Translate.

Where are you from?

l'm from northern ltaly,
400 miles from here.

Yes, but where exactly?

From Sguardo, a tiny village.

So you're from the countryside.

Are you a farmer?
Tell me the truth.

A farmer? l'm an electrician.

lf it weren't for the war,
l'd have my degree in electrical engineering.

Do these look like the hands of a farmer?
Feel how soft they are.

Really.

What's this with farmers?
Wasn't your father a farmer?

No, he was a barber.
That's something else.

Wouldn't you know.

While he was alive, things were good.

Our life was pretty good.

Now l live with my sister.
She married a guy who's well-off.

But l pay my way.
l have a sewing machine.

Good.

The sand is so hot.

- Who knows how hot the sand in Africa is?
- For sure.

When do you ship out?

Day after tomorrow.
Don't make me think about it or...

So you're just gonna go to Africa?
You won't try to get out of it?

What should l do?

There's a way.

l've been thinking about it all day.

Oh, really? What way?

- Don't laugh when l tell you.
- l won't laugh.

Let's get married.

lt doesn't have to be me.
Marry somebody, whoever you like.

That way they give you
1 2 days matrimonial leave.

ln 1 2 days, the war could be over.
Who knows?

Or maybe they won't send you to Africa
and you can stay here in ltaly.

Just get married.
l'm telling you for your own good.

Everybody's doing it here in Naples.

Look, didn't we already get married?

When?

- Half an hour ago, right here.
- Don't be silly.

Look, l'm 32.
l've never been married...

and l never will.

You haven't found a woman
who would want you.

l've already found dozens of girls.

Pretty, ugly, blondes, redheads.

Rich and poor.

But the minute they try to haul me
into a church, l take off.

Are you kidding?
Me marrying a Neapolitan?

Then go to Africa, to the war,
the heat and the scorpions!

You know, those yellow ones that bite.
Farewell!

Let me tell you something.

l'll take the scorpions over marriage.

Who the hell would marry you?

Oh, what a fool l am!

l forgot to give you your present.

- For me?
- Yes.

They're so nice.

- You like them?
- Very much.

Thanks.

Your mother could have
come to the wedding.

You don't do such things.

lt bothers me more
on your account than mine.

Don't worry about it.
My mother is old and stubborn.

Actually, Mama got the idea
you married me for money.

Money? What money?

Tell her l didn't make out very well.

Have a little patience.

When we have a baby,
she'll love the baby...

and you too, you'll see.

l want more than one baby.

l want to have a big family.

Where are you taking me?
So many mosquitoes!

Mamma mia!

You naughty girl!

What are you doing, beating me?

Anto?

Why are all those bells ringing?

Anto.

Why are all the bells ringing?

What time is it?

6:00.

6:00 a.m. or p.m.?

Who can tell?

lt's raining.

lt's good for the mosquitoes.

lt's raining hard.

l can't tell if it's morning or night.

People are leaving the church.
It must be Sunday.

What do we care what day it is?

What do we care?
Didn't we get here on Thursday?

So it's Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday.

Sunday was yesterday.

So today's Monday.

Tomorrow's Tuesday.

Only eight days left.

What is it?

lt's a wedding,
and the groom is wearing a uniform.

Good God! l forgot!

That's Alfredo,
a guy who works with me!

He invited us to the wedding.

How could l forget?
Who knows how much money he spent.

Did this Alfredo get married
for the 1 2-day leave as well?

l don't know. Could be.

Tell me the truth.

You didn't marry me
just for that, did you?

Silly! l married you because l love you.

But you weren't sure.
You were afraid.

You said the idea of
getting married scared you.

- Yes.
- And it still does.

lt still does!

Giovanna, we have to put
blackout paper on the windows.

Otherwise we'll get a ticket.

They say there was
an air raid around here.

Still 6:00?

lt's stopped.
lt's night, the moon is out.

Anyhow, we're on time off, remember?

You know, l'm starving.
l'll go make some pasta.

Don't you move.
l already lit the fire. l'll cook.

- You know how to cook?
- Nobody told you?

- l'm a magician in the kitchen!
- Come on.

The soup is done
The soup is done

Come and eat

The soup is done
The soup is done

Come and eat

Hey, what are you making with all those?

- A frittata.
- With how many eggs?

Twenty-four.

Who can eat 24 eggs?

My grandfather.

That's what he and my grandmother ate
the morning after their wedding night.

Got it?

Butter.

Nobody has any butter these days.

Besides, for a frittata, you use oil.

- My mama makes them with butter.
- She's wrong. Back home, we use oil.

By the way, she's sick.

She's in bed with bronchitis.

She got it on purpose
so she wouldn't have to meet me.

Don't say that.

- What do you need?
- Salt.

This is empty.
Where is the salt?

- Over there.
- Salt.

- Pepper.
- Pepper.

Beautiful.

Set the table.

Here you go.

l haven't made a frittata
since l've been in the army.

Look at that! Pure gold!

My poor papa
was the best of all of us.

A world-champion frittata maker.

l'm making you a delicacy, Giovanna.

A plate for you. One for me.

This one's for the frittata.

These are for you.
These are for me.

And bread.

A piece for you.

A piece for me.

And a nice bottle ofwine.

l'm done.

Me too.

Here we are.

The glasses.

lt weighs a ton.

lt's beautiful!

- You like it?
- Yes.

Here.

Smells good.

To us!

Taste it.

No, not now. Not now.

Translate.

Not now!

Well, all right.

Only because l love you.

What heat.

lt's suffocating in here.

l need air.

My grandfather makes me sick.

How did my grandfather do it?

l don't want to see another egg
for a month.

For a year.

lt's a damn good thing
l didn't put onion in it.

Listen, l'm going to throw it away.

Yes, get it out of my sight.

Where did these eggs come from?

From my mother.

She probably knocked,
but we didn't hear her.

- What are you doing?
- Nothing.

You're not leaving them outside, are you?

They're eggs from my mama.

l don't want to see another egg
for as long as l live!

Let's go out.

Where will we go?

We need some air.

Oh, look. lt's dawn.

At this hour, my father
would already be in the fields.

What's the matter,
can't stand on your own two feet?

What are you saying?
l'm stronger than you are.

Want me to show you?

Put your arms down.

What are you doing?

Let me go!

Damn.

l didn't think you were so strong.

- What are you laughing about?
- Those eggs.

Don't make me laugh,
my stomach will explode.

- When l close my eyes, l only see eggs.
- So don't close them.

Even if l open my eyes, l still see eggs.

They're dropping flares.

They'll bomb the bridge!

lt's all right.

lt's all over.

l wasn't afraid.

You made me realize so many things, Anto.

Antonio, l love you.
l want to spend my life with you.

Love you until l die.

How many days have passed, Anto?

Eight.

No, 1 0.

Two days.

Only two more days.

- Anto, no!
- l'm going to kill you!

Help!

Shut the door!
Help me, Antonio's gone crazy!

Poor thing.

l'll kill everyone.

Anto. Stay there!

- What happened?
- Nothing, nothing.

What do you mean?

Nothing.

l don't know what's gotten into him.

He seemed all right this morning.

Then he became pale
and his eyes started bulging.

Yesterday, he grabbed me
around the neck like this.

lt hurt so much.

l must have fainted.
l fell on the ground.

The neighbors threw
a bucket of cold water on me.

He'd locked himself in the kitchen
and refused to come out.

He shouted,
"Damn the day l married you!"

Why did he say such things?

lt was awful.

Brigadier, he's here!

Wait!

Wait a second.

l'll bring him out.
Wait, l'll get him out.

No, l'll get him. Wait a minute.
He won't hurt me.

Stay here.
Be good. Don't hurt him.

Antonio, come out.

They won't do anything to you, l swear.

Anto, come out.

Antonio, can you hear me?

Let me go!

Don't hurt him!

l want to know why!

- And you!
- Get the director down here!

l want to know why l'm in here!

Doesn't that idiot know
that l'm St. Joseph?

Yes, he's St. Joseph. l guarantee it.

Come here, ma'am.

- You're as "crazy" as l am.
- Doctor.

The choice is up to him.

lt's either a court-martial,
or volunteering for the Russian Front.

First platoon get in the car on the right.

Second platoon on the one to the left.

You have 1 5 minutes.

Break ranks!

Giovanna, we have 1 5 minutes.
Come, come.

- Giovanna.
- Yes?

- l'll come back very soon. You'll see.
- Yes.

l'll bring you a nice fur.

Yes.

The war's over!

lt's over!

Hey, come here!

What did you say? What's over?

The war!

MlLAN SALUTES lTS HEROES
RETURNlNG FROM RUSSlA

- Mama!
- Gianni!

Maria!

Do you know him?

This is Antonio.

He's alive then?

We fought together.

He's alive?

Maybe. l don't know.

How can you not know?

Stop.

l can barely walk.

l've been waiting so many years
for this moment.

Waiting to find somebody who can tell me
something about Antonio.

Someone who's seen him,
who knows him.

Sit down.

l can't stand anymore.
Come here, sit down.

He's alive?

You spoke to him?

Where did you see him?

Where did you last see him?

Tell me where it was.

- We were together.
- Where?

We were on the River Don.

lt was January, a wicked month.

The Russians had us surrounded.

We were ordered
to break through at all costs.

You can't even begin to imagine
what snow is-

damn it to hell-
ifyou've never been to Russia.

Stop moving for three minutes
and you freeze.

The Russians were coming at us
from every side.

lt was hell.

We were in hell.

The snow, the ice,
the wind cutting into our faces,

thirst, hunger

and never any sleep, day or night.

It was a hell.

l can't feel my hands.

l can't feel my hands anymore.

Hey! Give me a hand!

lt's all been burned down.
Where can we go?

Look!

Shut the door, for Christ's sake.

l can't.
l can't anymore.

Come on, get up.

Let's go. Walk.

After we left that cabin,

we still had to walk
many miles in the snow.

Antonio.

Come on, get up.

Be strong.

Anto, come on, walk.

My feet.

Leave me here.

Anto, you have to walk or you'll freeze.

When I turned back toward him,
he waved for me to go on,

not to worry about him.

l never saw him again.

You never saw him again?

You left him there in the snow?

Without giving him a hand?

ln that cold? Unconscious?

- What could l do?
- Wasn't there someone to help you?

What kind of person are you?

l don't know.

Maybe someone helped him.

Listen...

Come in.
l'll make some coffee.

No.

Coffee is bad for me.

l can't drink it.

l'm happy to see you.

Want a glass of milk?

No, thanks.

- Would you like some cherries?
- No, thanks.

Have a seat.

He's alive.

l know he's alive. l can feel it.

But if he's alive,
why hasn't he written?

Neither to me, nor to you?

Why didn't Antonio
return with the others?

l want to go there. l'll try.

The papers all say
things have changed in Russia.

Stalin is dead and buried.

lt can't be completely
impossible to get in. l'll try.

Even if it is impossible, l'm going to try!

- You're going to Russia?
- Yes, Russia.

So many years have passed.

This was...

the last picture he sent me.

Look, ma'am.

He must have been warm
with all those clothes on.

What do you think?

A soldier who's bundled up
like that won't die.

He's alive.

MlNlSTRY OF FORElGN TRADE

"Spasibo."
ls that how you say it?

There were ltalian soldiers
and civilian Russian prisoners.

The Germans made them dig their own graves.

You see, ma'am.

Every sunflower,

every tree,

every field ofwheat

covers the bodies of Italian soldiers,

Russian soldiers, German soldiers,

and even the bodies
of many Russian farmers,

old people, women and children.

l'm certain my husband isn't here.

Antonio is alive.

You must come to terms with this.

There are no ltalians left alive in Russia.

That's not true.

There are ltalians left alive here.

The wounded.
The ones who can't remember anything.

Why not? lt happens.

l know a man who went to Moscow
for a soccer match.

He met and spoke to one of these ltalians.

What did he say?

l can't answer that.
How should l know?

l know it's true.

My God.

This is a memorial to your compatriots.

lt was written by a Russian poet,
Mikhail Svetlov.

"Young sons of Naples,

what brought you
to the fields of Russia?

Were you not happy
by your native coasts?

When l met you near Vostok,

l thought of Mount Vesuvius,
so far away."

You're ltalian.

You are ltalian.

l can tell by your hair,
your eyes, everything.

Why are you ashamed
to admit you're ltalian?

What is there to be ashamed of?

You are.

l've come to find my husband,

but l can't find out if he's alive or dead.

You are ltalian.

Where are you from?

l was ltalian.

Now l'm Russian.

Why?

Because.

lt's a very long story.

Besides, there isn't always a reason.

lt just happened.

No, l don't know him.

l was in the alpine division.
lf l knew something, l swear l'd tell you.

Why don't you go back home?

What home?

You know him?

Do you know him?

You know him?

Hello.

Just a minute.

Katusha!

No grandmother.

And it's hard to raise a child
with no grandmother.

l'm so tired.

Antonio was really dead.

Almost dead.

He was...

frozen.

Antonio forgot.

Everything forgotten.
Name too. Understand?

l always with him.
Always, until he better.

Wait, let me on!

l never want to see you again!

lt's not fair!

lt's not fair.

lt's not fair!

You can't do this!

lt's not fair!

What is it? Are you scared?

No, l'm freezing.

- Want to go through town?
- Yes.

How long have you been
driving a motorcycle?

Since l was a kid.

Are we going downhill?

No, it's flat here.
Nothing to be afraid of. l'm an ace.

- Want to go to the river?
- Yeah, turn here.

Like an arrow.

Damn it!

Are you crazy?

The damn thing wouldn't stop.

Did you have to go and aim
straight for the river.

Are you stupid? Where are we?

Be glad that we weren't hurt.

l knew l never should have come.

You said you'd never been
on a motorcycle.

What a way to start!

There it is.

Here.

- Where are you going?
- Home, on foot.

- Wait!
- For what, a broken leg?

You want to come in?

You want to sit down?

That's where Antonio's picture used to be.

Yes.

So it's better...

it's better that he's dead?

Better for me,
for you, for everybody.

He's alive.

He has a house, a woman...

and a child.

To Giovanna, with all my love.
Antonio.

Antonio, is it the one on the fourth floor?

Cheese?

Not even our nice apartment...

has made you smile.

You don't ever say anything.
Not a word.

Do you still want me?

Help us, Valentina lvanova.

l absolutely must go. l must.

You see, Antonio's mother
is very old and sick.

l understand, Antonio.

No more seats are left, l'm afraid.

The waiting list for ltaly is long.

Two seats are hard to find,
almost impossible.

No, only one.
l'm going alone.

l'd like to go.

But l can't because...

well, there's Katusha
and the new apartment.

l'll wait for you.

l'll do what l can.

With luck, we can get a seat.

A cancellation is easier for a single seat.

All l can tell you is to keep in touch.

- All right?
- Thank you.

We both thank you very much,
Valentina Ivanova.

- Good-bye.
- Good-bye.

You think an ltalian lady
would like this?

Would she be pleased?

lt's a beautiful fur.

l'm sure she would love it.

- Does it cost a lot?
- 2,000 rubles.

Anything less expensive?

l have this for a very good price.

They'd better put you
in the wigs department.

Otherwise, who knows
what you'll be up to next?

Hello?

Hello, Giovanna.

Who is this?

Giovanna, it's me. Antonio.

It's Antonio.

Where are you?

I'm here in Milan.

Yes, but...

Giovanna.

l came to see you.

Giovanna, when can l see you?

How did you find me?

I went to the village.
They gave me your phone number.

Anto, l don't want to see you.

l never want to see you.

No, only for a moment.

Just one moment.

l've come from so far away.

l also traveled far, by day, by night.

And what did l find?

What's the use?

Anto...

l'm not alone anymore either.

You're with someone else?

Yes.

He works in a factory.

This week they put him on night duty.

So we won't meet? l leave as if
l'd never heard from you again.

ls it better that way?

We have nothing to say to each other.

You're with her.

l'm with him.

Let's leave it that way.

So, good-bye, Giovanna.

Good-bye, Anto.

Good-bye.

Pardon me. Does the strike affect
even the international trains?

- Where are you going?
- Vienna.

The next train leaves tomorrow
at about 6:00 a.m.

Otherwise?

What do you mean?

l saw there's a bus service.

Yes, but they only go
to Turin, Verona,

Novara, Bologna.

lt's not worth it.

These strikes are such a nightmare.

Well, there's a bus service
for some of the trains. They're leaving.

l'm not going anyplace.

l'm sorry. l thought-

l saw you buying a present.

The baby doll?

No, it's for me. l like them.

Don't you?

Listen, would you happen to know
of a small hotel around here?

There's the Gallia, but...

No, just a cheap hotel or an inn.

No.

Would you like to sleep with me?

- Where?
- lt's very close, just around the corner.

Where are you from?

- Do you have a phone?
- Yes, by the door.

Yes, listen.

There's a train strike
and l can't leave until tomorrow.

l want to see you for a moment.

l must speak to you.
Tell me where you are.

42 Piazzale Ambrosio Giovagnoli.

Just a minute. Let me write it down.

Sorry, have you got a pencil?
Would you mind writing something down?

Well, l have an eyebrow pencil.

What was it again?

42 Piazzale Ambrosio Giovagnoli.

Apartment 8, third floor.

Thanks.

Say, how do l get a taxi?

What do you mean a taxi?

Why? You're leaving?

Yes.

What?

l got all undressed.

l even messed up the mirror.

How much?

The lights have gone out.

l have to meet you in the dark
after all these years.

Let me in forjust a minute.
l won't be long.

Sure, sorry.

l'll go find a candle.
Who knows where l put them.

- You're all wet.
- No, it's okay.

l still can't believe you're really here.

Listen, Giovanna.

l have to explain it to you.

l wanted to kill myself.

But l found that you can exist
without love.

lt's true.

lfyou only knew what l went through.

l had a thousand miles of snow
in front of me.

When l opened my eyes,

l found myself in a house...

that l didn't know...

with a woman l'd never seen before.

l didn't remember anything.

For a long time,
l didn't remember anything.

Why tell me things l already know?

That woman saved your life,

she cared for you, fed you,
gave you anything you wanted.

You should have thanked her
and gone away.

But you stayed with her.

And now you have a little girl.

lt seemed like that house...

was the only safe place in the world.

And you stayed with her.

Because...

it was...

as if l had died.

And then l was someone else.

Death, coming so close,
changes people.

lt changes...

the way they feel.

l don't know how to explain it to you.

With her...

l found a little peace.

But how can l make you understand?

When l came here, l thought
it would be easy to make it all clear.

War is cruel.

lt was-

Everything was so cruel, Giovanna.

lt was hard.

l don't know why it happened.

Well-

The candle.

Don't look at me like that.
I've aged.

And you look older too.

All those wrinkles on your forehead...

So many white hairs.

- Antonio-
- Come back with me.

l still love you.

And l can tell you do, too.

How could l go with you?

How could l?

Giovanna.

l have a baby.

Now you understand, Anto?

l can't leave you like this.

l'll take you with me.

We'll have a new life somewhere.

Where can you take me
with this tiny creature?

And what about your little girl?

Are we supposed to ruin their lives?

Darling.

What's his name?

Antonio.

Like me?

No, like St. Antonio.

l brought you a...

l promised you.