Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Two-Disc Collector's Edition
Actors: Robert De Niro, Gérard Depardieu, Bernardo Bertolucci, Vittorio Storaro, Dominique Sanda
Director: Bernardo Bertolucci
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama
Bernardo Bertolucci's massive epic, a history of Italy from 1900 to 1945 as reflected through the friendship of two men across class lines, is one of the most fascinating, if little seen, of his films. After beginning with... more »
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Bertolucci's epic masterpiece restored....one of the finest
Grigory's Girl | NYC | 11/02/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is, in fact, Bertolucci's original cut of 315 (!) minutes. Having seen both the 255 minute version and the director's cut, one may actually say what kind of difference can there possibly be between these 2 versions? One is 4 1/4 hours, the other is 5 1/4 hours. They are both incredibly long versions, so what's the point? The point is that there is a huge difference. As incredible as it may sound, the shorter version seems longer, as it doesn't have the same narrative flow as the longer version does. There are subtle differences between the versions that make certain scenes different. For example, there is a scene where the leaders of the town go duck hunting (warning! Bertolucci shows the actual killing of ducks here, along with animals being slaughtered for food). They then go into a church to discuss bringing a new fascist order to the town. In the short version, the church scene only consists of the men talking. In the longer version, Bertolucci intercuts the dead ducks with the men talking, giving the scene a graver effect. The sex scenes are longer and more explicit in the longer version as well. I saw this long version at a Bertolucci retrospective, and there were college kids in the audience who were laughing at the sex scenes! The sex scenes, like in all of Bertolucci's work, are meant to be serious and natural, which they are. I suppose the young people of America have a difficult time taking sex seriously after a decade or so of lowbrow, childish, teenage "comedies". Some of the magnificent camera work got lost in the shorter version, because Bertolucci cut some of the beginnings and ends of scenes, where they would be a wonderful camera move opening or closing the scene. As for the film itself, it is incredibly ambitious and amazing to behold. Bertolucci just came off the amazingly successful Last Tango in Paris, and did something grandly ambitious. He should be commended for that. Many current day filmmakers would probably do a sequel to their already successful film to fill their pockets, and not give a hoot about anything else. Bertolucci originally wanted to release it in 2 parts, but the producer Alberto Grimaldi, who was reeling from the financial failure of Fellini's Cassanova (a film he produced), wanted no part of a 2 part film. So Bertolucci compromised. He only cut one entire scene. He made cuts within scenes (a technique that Terry Gilliam used on his film Brazil, when he had to trim his film from 142 minutes to 131). While this film is magnificent, it took a ton out of Bertolucci. He never worked with Grimaldi again (Grimaldi had produced Last Tango in addition to this film), and he didn't really recover his reputation as a great filmmaker until 10 years later with another epic, The Last Emperor. Since then, he's been erratic, but he can still make great cinema (watch The Dreamers, one of Bertolucci's best films). Since this is in fact the director's cut, by all means see it, rent it, buy it.
This is arguably one of the finest, most ambitious, and unique epic films ever made. When it was made in 1977, it was met with derision, confusement, and indifference. Many people are now able to view this film, and appreciate it for the masterpiece that it is."
A big project overwhelmed by its own intentions
G. Shkodra | Montreal, Canada | 01/06/2002
(3 out of 5 stars)
""Novecento" was one of the most eagerly awaited movies of the seventies. It was meant to be, as Bertolucci himself intended, the Italian "Gone with the wind", an epic story about what happened in the "bel paese" during the first half of the twentieth century, the political turmoil between WW1 and WW2, the rise and fall of the fascism, the birth and widespread of the communist and socialist movements as a response to social injustice. There was a big project, the financial means to carry it out (American studios financing communist propaganda - can you believe that?), some of the world's best actors at the time. And what maybe matters the most there was Bernardo Bertolucci himself, whose political ideas have never been in glaring contradiction with the "Communist Manifesto". So who else could make this movie better than him? Having put this fabulous international team together the standards were set very, very high.
As much as I love Italy and Italians, as much as I love Bertolucci, and as much as I adore De Niro, Depardieu, Lancaster and Sutherland, I have to say this movie let me down a little bit. I mean it's a good movie, but it could have been much better. The problem is that one has to know what happened in Italy during that period of time to fully understand what the movie is really about. Bertolucci knew it beforehand, which probably explains his need to have the best French actor, the best American actor, some other excellent American actors besides his Italian actors troop (some of them are excellent by the way) to be in this movie. I think I can say that I know pretty well the Italian twentieth century history, and yet I think this movie is a little bit of a mess.
The Italian landscape, the countryside, the photography and the colors are really breathtaking. The director really knows how to suit the locations and paysage to almost every moment and particular scene of the movie. But to me, what misses the most in this movie is the dialog. You sit and watch scene after scene and you have the feeling that the movie is finally about to take off, but it doesn't, it quite never does. Yes, there are many excellent scenes, some of them being very explicit in a way or another, but this is the classic example of the total being too inferior to the sum of its separate parts.
As far as the acting is concerned, Lancaster is undoubtedly the one who gives the best performance here, and he seems really lucky to have played a relatively small part. Some of the scenes he's in are among the best of this movie. Depardieu is excellent too. Donald Sutherland is good, but every time he's on-screen one can't help wondering if he's frustrated because of the bizarre acts he has been told to perform or simply because he knows he has to act someone who, whatever the reason, seems to be constantly angry.
But to me the most disappointing is my all time favorite actor, the man himself, De Niro. He comes in and goes out, makes faces, smiles, chuckles, moans, groans and never seems to really be in this movie. Anonymous, that's the word that occurred to me while watching this film, as far as De Niro's acting is concerned. Luckily enough, this movie didn't harm that much his reputation at the time, and he went on later to give absolutely mesmerizing performances in gems like "The last tycoon", "The deer hunter" and "Raging bull".
I have only watched the original 6 hours long version, both in English and Italian, and I have to say I don't have any problems with the accents. I still keep watching this movie 25 years after its release, just to make sure I haven't missed anything before and to see if I can appreciate it more now. And I still keep thinking that this is a somewhat messy movie which failed to deliver the message and the promises it was supposed to deliver to the Italian public, and to a greater extent to the international public. To me this movie is a big project overwhelmed by its own intents.
If you're new to the Italian cinema you'd better try "Il conformista", "The last emperor" and "The last tango in Paris" by the same director, and try also the best of Fellini, Scola, Visconti, De Sica, Antonioni, Tornatore, and... oh yes, how could I forget, the master of the masters, Sergio Leone!"
About the different lenght versions of Novecento
Rafael Chinchilla | Costa Rica | 10/06/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Let me clarify the question of the different versions of this masterpiece.
The first cut (never released) was 6:15. The European released version was 5:25. In the meanwhile, Alberto Grimaldi (the film's producer) was negociating with Paramount a 3:15 version, betraying Bertolucci, who didn't know a word about.
After the European succes, Fox offered Bertolucci to work on a 4:15 version for the U.S. market. He accepted, and made a second 4:40 version. But Grimaldi's opposition take the case to a court. A judge viewed all three 5:25, 4:40 and 3:15 versions. He concluded that Grimaldi's short version was detrimental and incoherent. So he invited Bertolucci to work in a 4:15 version.
Bernardo did a third cut to 4:10, that had its premiere in the New York Film Festival. There, critics were very negative, since they already knew the european 5:25 version, and compared so. But Bertolucci once declared that this was simply another film; no a single sequence was missing, it just had another pace. For a given moment, he even prefered this version. But years later, he recognizes the short version lacks the "inexorable passing of time" of the full one.
Let me recall this is the only film in history that has put toghether -for the production- all three major studios then, Fox, United Artists and Paramount.
All this information was taken from the book Bertolucci por Bertolucci, the spanish version of Scene madri di Bernardo Bertolucci, from Enzo Ungari, based on the interviews by Donald Ranvaud about The Last Emperor.
I definitely agree with the people asking for a remastering and release on DVD of the 5:25 original version."
105 years later! Release the DVD already!
Iconoclassicist | NYC, NYUSA | 12/11/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I'm still awaiting the American release of this magnificent epic. I've had this on VHS for over 15 years and have seen the film over 10 times. What a great way to spend five and a half hours!
There are magnificent performances by Deniro and Depardieu, by Dominique Sanda, Sterling Hayden, Burt Lancaster and others, including chilling performances by Donald Sutherland and Laura Betti. There are many memorable scenes as we travel through the 20th century captured by the always amazing cinematography of Vittorio Storarro which was at its apex in this film and il Conformisto.
While I appreciate Bertolucci's Socialist bent and his brilliant attacks on Fascism, the only down side to the film (if you don't mind the length) is Bertolucci's Socialist didacticism which is the only times the film loses its subtly and sinks to levels of propaganda.
Still this film compares favorably with other great epics of film history like the Godfather I & II and Lawrence of Arabia. Release it on DVD already!"