HOW TO MAKE AN AMERICAN QUILT

This post is also available in: Italiano (Italian)

Translation by Marina Dlacic

A movie all about women, from director Jocelyn Moorhouse to the protagonists, Winona Ryder, Anne Bancroft, Ellen Burstyn, Kate Nelligan, Jean Simmons, Maya Angelou, but the list does not end here because the story unfolds through the lives of the protagonists from adolescence , played by other actresses, to a later age and the time of the story narrated in the movie.

Poster of the original film

Cover of the book

From the novel, written by a woman !, Withney Otto, was made a movie version of enormous success in the USA. Unfortunately, there is no translation  and book in Italian, as it would be interesting. In addition to the stories of the protagonists, all compelling, it is full of instructions and advice on Quilting with many practical sewing tips to make quilts.

Elettra Caporello, translator and adapter of dialogues that I know well, a spearhead, expert like few others in the profession of dubbing, had no other choice.

In 1995, we talk about 25 years ago, in Italy  we knew almost nothing of what we naturally call Quilting and quilt; there was the “trapunto” and the “trapunta” of italica, classic tradition, which resembles it but is quite different. You will not find the English terminology that unites us today and makes us speak a single language…                                             

It is a very personal collective Quilt in Baltimore style, not very courtly but colorful and perfect. Each block represents a memory-remembrance of each individual author.

The plot. Finn, a student in Berkeley, spends the summer in the home of her grandmother Hy and her great-aunt Glady Joe, in California. Her grandmother’s house, surrounded by orange groves, is a perfect peaceful refuge for Finn who has to complete her thesis on rites of female craftsmanship in tribal cultures. But the real reason is to reflect on Sam’s marriage proposal. The two landladies, who have had various experiences in their life, will help her decide wisely.

In their beautiful home Hy and Glady Joe host the “Quilt Circle”, formed by a group of women who will work with needle and thread on the “Finn wedding quilt”. Each block will tell a personal story, central to the life of each of them. Betrayals, happiness, escapes, broken hearts. Each story is “unique” as the protagonists are: there is Anna, the imposing black woman who is “master of quilts”, heir and witness of the time of slavery; Marianna, her daughter, romantic and sophisticated, who comes from Paris; Em, wife aged alongside a husband, a loyal artist; there is Sofia, and the others.

The life of each is remembered through flash-backs that alternate with the work sessions first on the blocks and then in the end, when they are all gathered around the large double blanket to be quilted.

In the end love, the one with the capital L,will win over everything, and the young Finn, despite her doubts, will run to meet her future husband wearing the large blanket under which she will welcome Sam in a “quilty” embrace.

It is a beautiful movie, perhaps a little dated, but to be revisited. I have reviewed it with great pleasure appreciating some details of the stories in addition to the images of the objects collected and loved (thimbles, yo-yo, etc.). I invite you to watch it or see it again if you have already, you will have fun and love it too.

 Tullia Ferrero, June 2020

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