Chi l’ha vista? Reflections on the Montesi Case

  • Karen Pinkus
Part of the Italian and Italian American Studies book series (IIAS)


The Montesi scandal, sometimes called “the first modern mediatic case,” centers on the disappearance and death of a young Roman woman from the ceti medi (middle classes), a woman of no particular importance, a ragazza qualunque (Any-girl). In my book on the scandal, I have argued that the case cannot be known outside of the cinema of the period, and in the following brief essay I develop more precisely my thinking on the relationship of filmic narrative to questions of disappearance, (true) crime, justice, and closure.1 Justice for the “forgotten,” as Giorgio Agamben describes in The Idea of Prose is a tradition, a voice, rather than a form of revenge or a definitive endpoint. Such an idea of justice goes toward accounting for the explosion of narratives and films, especially in Italian culture, that attempt to rewrite (or re-cinematize) unresolved (and ultimately unresolvable) cases and mysteries from the past.2 In real life, families seek “closure,” even if in ending a narrative, or in punishing a criminal, the overall good of society—the Law—is not well served. This is why, for example, a family may bring a civil suit against a defendant in a democracy, outside the horizon of the Law. In fact, the Montesi family did, reluctantly, bring a civil suit that was quickly retracted for complex and contradictory reasons. In the end, the family received neither closure nor justice in the traditional narrative sense.3


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  1. 1.
    Karen Pinkus, The Montesi Scandal: The Death of Wilma Montesi and the Birth of the Paparazzi in Fellini’s Rome ( Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2003 ).Google Scholar
  2. 13.
    Catherine Clément, Syncope. The Philosophy of Rapture, trans. Sally O’Driscoll and Deidre M. Mahoney ( Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1994 ).Google Scholar
  3. 14.
    Michelangelo Antonioni, The Architecture of Vision, ed. Carlo Di Carlo and Giorgio Tinazzi (New York: Marsilio, 1996 ), 19.Google Scholar

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© Stephen Gundle and Lucia Rinaldi 2007

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  • Karen Pinkus

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