I was reminiscing about an Italian TV series that I used to watch back in my childhood in the 90s. Maybe you remember it? It was about a rebellious princess who fights her own battles and takes no prisoners. Actually, she does take prisoners to avoid violence and bloodshed, and she is nice even to humble creatures like earthworms. She spends more time talking to a goose than to real humans. That’s right, it’s Princess Fantaghiro!
Now, the first thing that’s interesting about these movies is that Fantaghiro’s hair. At various stages of the movie, it’s long, then short, then long again. Does she wear a wig for the long hair parts, or does her hair just spontaneously grow at a rapid rate when she’s feeling more feminine?
Anyway, it’s a fitting reflection of the movie’s feminist themes. Fantaghiro starts out like a typical second-wave feminist, disdaining her two sisters for playing with dolls. Then again, you can’t really blame her for being a little bit angry. I mean, in her kingdom it’s forbidden for women to learn how to read! But in later episodes, she seems to accept more of her feminine side, and she wears some really girly dresses, while still retaining her warrior princess status.
The other thing is… how sexy is this show? I mean, first there’s this handsome prince:
and this evil wizard who has the power to control anthropomorphic carrots (it makes sense if you see the show):
I even have a girl crush on Alessandra Martinez:
Retired Sexy Wizard
When Kim Rossi, who was playing Prince Romualdo did not want to appear in any more Cave of the Golden Rose movies, Tarabas replaced him as the male lead. It was kind of a weird situation because in the storyline, Fantaghiro is always unwaveringly in love with Romualdo. After all, he’s her fairy tale prince, but he’s not even in the movie anymore.
When Tarabas comes into the picture, he falls in love with Fantaghiro, and she claims not to feel anything for him, but I don’t believe her for a second. I think she’s just maintaining some decorum for the sake of the audience. As Shehanne Moore noted in her post, On Not being the Hero, sometimes it’s the non-hero that captures our imagination.
Nicholas Rogers, the australian model/actor who played Tarabas has now totally retired from show business, preferring to live the quiet life, despite thousands of disconsolate female fans. Now he’s the star of fan-made videos like this one:
Source of Inspiration
I was hugely inspired by these films not only because they featured a female heroine but also because of their unique aesthetic. It was a mixture of fairy tale earnestness and childlike wonder with some meta humour, and of course, cool animal creatures. Some would call it camp. I call it really awesome artistic choices which influenced my writing and thinking.