Poor Little Rich Girl
by Ayla Kanbur
During the era when money governs, having money seems to be an advantage, but luckily there are other people as seen in Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi’s film “It Is Easier For a Camel”. The film won the Fipresci award at the 7th. International Flying Broom Women’s Film Festival 2004 in Turkey.
The way Tedeschi tells her story is quite ironic. In fact, the theme of the film could be expressed as: If you have revolutionary feelings and, morever, behave like a socialist, it would not be a handicap to have lots of money with which you do not know what to do?
For Federica, who was born into a wealthy family, this handicap emerges as guilt. Unlike the rest of her family members, she does not interpret her wealth as natural. She is bothered with her possessions and her surroundings which raise some conflicts deep inside her. Her brother never works, only travels around the world. Her mother has characteristics of a typical bourgeois women, her sister is always depressed and dissatisfied with life. Finally, her father is about to die. In contrast to the family, her boyfriend, Pierre, has a working class background and he does not miss the chance to express his opposition to her family.
Opening with the Internationale sung by Federica and Pierre, the film shows Federica at the church confessing to the priest about her wealth. However, the priest can not help her but reminds her of a Bible saying that it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter heaven.
Since she is unable to allay her confusion, she can not find a position for herself in this world. Her sensitivity also prevents her from figuring out what she wants to do. The only valuable thing in which she believes is to write plays. However, her boyfriend considers this a hobby rather than real work.
Tedeschi wonderfully reveals the impasse in our current society from the point of view of a woman who is on the lucky side of the conflict. The well-planned structure of the script supports the director’s perspective with subplots referring to general living standards. For instance; living under the rules of marriage in appearance and having a passionate lover at the same time, as in her and her mother’s case, can raise a debate on morality. Because there are differences between those who do not have a chance even to think of a lover, as in the case of Pierre’s cleaner mother, or those who have never worked like her brother and Pierre’s father who died of fatigue after working over 10 hours a day. Therefore, the interests of people in life seems to be relative to their conditions.
The most impressive scene which exposes Federica’s and the director’s point of view is the kidnapping of Federica by the Brigate Rosse and the following dinner at her house where all of them sing a march implying that they are unified. This perception is opposite to what the mother said in her childhood as a reason to move from Italy to France. With this daydream, it seems that only in her imagination can her conflicts be reconciled.
After her father dies, the money she inherits puts her in a more ironic situation. To get rid of money becomes impossible, even though she is advised to spend it extravagantly. Even the institutions of society such as laws, the church, and family do not suggest any means of distributing the money in justice, since the system is established to keep these conflicts. Realising that to feel guilty or responsible for others is not enough to change the world she is left only to dream about equality but understands herself better.
Unfortunately, for the hope of the heaven she will be on the rich side as is seen in the last sequence. All the family can not do is watch the coffin of the father which is not able to fit into a plane, even after every effort made by carriers.
Overall, with its story, characters, style and connotations, It Is Easier For a Camel is a complex film. The subject of the film does not only represent a woman but also makes us face up to the world and conceive it from a woman’s point of view.
© FIPRESCI 2004