Italian diva Sophia Loren still firing on all cylinders in ‘The Life Ahead’

Italian diva Sophia Loren still firing on all cylinders in ‘The Life Ahead’
‘The Life Ahead’ stars Sophia Loren. Supplied
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Updated 25 November 2020

Italian diva Sophia Loren still firing on all cylinders in ‘The Life Ahead’

Italian diva Sophia Loren still firing on all cylinders in ‘The Life Ahead’

CHENNAI: Sophia Loren has been part of a league of actresses who brought a new meaning to cinematic performance and the Italian diva who has not been seen in a feature film in more than a decade, makes a rare appearance in the latest Netflix streamer, “The Life Ahead,” interestingly directed by her son, Edoardo Ponti.

With masterpieces such as Vittorio de Sica’s “Two Women” under her belt, 86-year-old Loren gives a breathtakingly moving performance as Madam Rosa in “The Life Ahead.”

As a former sex worker, she takes a street urchin from Senegal under her care, showering him with love which becomes a life changer for the boy who has been committing petty crimes.

Adapted from Romain Gary’s novel, “The Life Before Us,” the movie is high on emotions, a tearjerker in fact, and is set in the southern Italian port city of Bari.

It also stars Ibrahima Gueye as orphan Momo who is under the guardianship of the sweet Dr. Coen (Renato Carpentieri).

“The Life Ahead” begins dramatically with Momo snatching Rosa’s handbags as she is out on the street shopping. When Coen finds this out, he forces the boy to meet Rosa and offer an apology. The boy does so very, very reluctantly, and realizing that the elderly woman would be an excellent ward for Momo the doctor cajoles Rosa to take him in.

There are moments of beauty as there are of tension and conflict. Momo is at first hostile to Rosa, clearly unhappy at the loss of his freedom which he enjoyed under Coen.

He still manages to sneak out and sell drugs on the streets, but as time goes by, begins to get fond of Rosa, and she too, despite her initial reluctance, veers around.

Scenes such as when Rosa suffers from temporary memory losses or when the boy smuggles her out of her hospital bed are lovely. And Loren’s nuanced performance is Oscar worthy — she is as regal as she is vulnerable.

Ponti does not let his work turn despairing or dark, although the subject of abandoned children is heavy. He offers variety as well, of a parent fighting to keep their child and a shopkeeper who never ceases missing his wife.

All the time, Momo watches them and discovers a sense of belonging while the audience watch him blossom.

Egypt announces ‘major discoveries’ at Saqqara archaeological site

Egypt announces ‘major discoveries’ at Saqqara archaeological site
Updated 17 January 2021

Egypt announces ‘major discoveries’ at Saqqara archaeological site

Egypt announces ‘major discoveries’ at Saqqara archaeological site
  • Egyptian archaeologist says discoveries will rewrite history of region

CAIRO: An Egyptian archaeological mission working in the Saqqara area near the pyramids of Giza in Egypt has discovered dozens of archeological finds, including a Pharaonic funerary temple.

The Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities announced that the discoveries —  made by the joint mission between the council and the Zahi Hawass Center of Egyptology — include wooden wells and coffins from the New Kingdom, dating back to 3000 B.C.

Mostafa Waziri, secretary-general of the council, said that the discoveries are located at the Saqqara necropolis, near the pyramid where King Teti, the first king of the Sixth Dynasty of the Old Kingdom, who ruled Egypt between 2323 and 2291 B.C., is buried.

Zahi Hawass, Egyptian archaeologist and head of the mission, said that these discoveries will rewrite the history of the region, especially during the 18th and 19th Dynasties of the New Kingdom, during which time King Teti was worshiped.

Hawass said that the mission found the funerary temple of Queen Nearit, wife of King Teti, part of which was uncovered in the years prior to the mission, as well as three mud-brick warehouses on the southeastern side, used to store offerings and tools that were involved in a revival of the queen’s creed.

The mission also discovered 52 wells, ranging in depths between 10 to 12 meters and containing more than 50 wooden coffins from the New Kingdom era. This is the first time that coffins dating back to 3000 B.C. have been found in the Saqqara area.

The surfaces of the coffins depict various scenes involving the gods who were worshipped during this period, in addition to texts from the Book of the Dead that help the deceased pass on to the other world.

Inside the wells, the mission found numerous artifacts, such as statues of the deity Ptah, as well as a four-meter-long papyrus, representing chapter 17 from the Book of the Dead, with the name of its owner recorded on it. The same name was found on four statues.

Other finds included a set of wooden masks; games for the deceased to play in the other world, one of which is similar to chess; and statues and a shrine of Anubis, the god of death.

The mission also discovered a bronze ax, indicating that its owner was one of the leaders of the army in the New Kingdom era, and paintings inscribed with scenes of the deceased and his wife and hieroglyphic writings.

A large amount of pottery dating back to the New Kingdom was found, including pottery establishing trade relations between Egypt and Crete, as well as Syria and Palestine.

Hawass explained that this discovery confirms that the Saqqara antiquities area was not used for burial during the Late Period only, but also in the New Kingdom.

The mission studied the mummy of a woman who was found to be suffering from a disease known as Mediterranean fever or swine fever, which comes from direct contact with an animal and leads to a liver abscess.

Hawass asserted that the archeological discovery is one of the most significant ones of this year and will make Saqqara an important tourist and cultural destination. It will rewrite the history of Saqqara in the era of the New Kingdom and will confirm the importance of the worship of King Teti during the 19th Dynasty.