Films in Venice: Summertime
“Summertime”, also known as “Summer Madness”, is an award-winning bittersweet romantic motion picture directed by David Lean in 1955. The movie, set in Venice, is about a middle aged unmarried American woman, Jane Hudson (played by Katharine Hepburn) and a dashing Venetian antique shop owner, Renato de Rossi (played by Rossano Brazzi). Jane falls in love with Renato over the purchase of a red glass goblet. The red antique glass goblet represents Jane’s own hidden passion, which can only be appreciated by a connoisseur like Renato. It also symbolizes the Holy Grail which Jane has been seeking all her life.
Attending a music concert in Piazza San Marco, Jane chooses to wear a simple gardenia instead of an orchid, hinting that her love affair in Venice is going to be sweet but short-lived. Jane falls passionately in love with Renato even after she finds out that he is married and already a father. However, Jane is unwilling to stay in this relationship which she believes is destined to fail. She decides to leave both Renato and Venice. In a dramatic final scene, Renato runs after Jane’s departing train as it pulls out of the station. He wants to give Jane a gift of a gardenia but to no avail. Like the sweet tropical gardenia, Jane realizes that she has no place in Venice.
The window covering “Venetian Blinds”, contrary to their name, are not from Venice. They may have originated in Persia, since the Italian term is “le persiane” and the French, “les persienes”. They may even have their origin in ancient Egypt where similar things made out of Nile reeds had been found. The Chinese also used strips of bamboo to block out light long before the blinds were used in Venice.