Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Rocco and His Brothers|
Actors: Alain Delon, Renato Salvatori, Annie Girardot, Claudia Cardinale, Katina Paxinou
Director: Luchino Visconti
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama
In sweeping epic style, the prize-winning Rocco and His Brothers tells the story of four poor Italian brothers and their mother who leave their country home and move to bustling Milan with hopes of improving their bitter f... more »
Member Movie Reviews
Lewis P. (Turfseer) from NEW YORK, NY
Reviewed on 12/26/2010...
Excellent acting but tale of misguided filial obligation doesn't ring true
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
'Rocco and his Brothers' begins as the Parondi clan move from their rustic life in Lucania, in the southern part of Italy, to the bustling northern metropolis of Milan. Head of the clan is the mother, Rosaria, a loud, obnoxious woman who can be best described as a worry wart. She brings her four sons, Rocco and Simone (in their early 20s), Ciro, a teenager, and Luca (about eight), to visit Vincenzo, the older brother who is engaged to Ginetta (played by Claudia Cardinale before she became famous). The expectation is that Vincenzo has arranged for his in-laws to put his mother and siblings up until they can obtain permanent lodging. Unfortunately, Rosaria and Ginetta's mother don't get along and Vincenzo is forced to find other quarters for them. Vincenzo consults a maintenance man who advises him that the family can move into an expensive apartment, stop paying the rent after a month and have the City of Milan then put them into decent housing since anyone who has officially been evicted, must be provided with social services by the City.
'Rocco' is divided into four segments, focusing each on the older brothers. The first segment involves Vincenzo whose character appears in stark contrast to his younger siblings. Whereas the newly arrived Parondi's are very unsophisticated (they've never seen snow before) and regarded as country bumpkins by the residents of Milan, Vincenzo is a virtual cosmopolitan. While he has a small part in the film, Vincenzo serves two important purposes: 1) He is held up as less stable than the the younger and more together domestic pillar, Ciro, in that he is never able to facilitate a reconciliation between his mother and in-laws and ends up marrying Ginetta, more out of obligation than complete love, after she accidentally becomes pregnant; and 2) He ends up bumping into Nadia, the prostitute, in the hallway of the family's apartment building, introducing her to his other brothers.
The next segment focuses on Simone who is the film's evil antagonist. All good melodramas need a good villain and Simone fits the bill to a tee. He dates Nadia for only a short time before she becomes sick of him; despite dumping him, in Simone's mind, Nadia has become his possession. Despite his professed love for Nadia, Simone has no guilt feelings about seducing the cleaning store manager where Rocco works. This is after he borrows (without permission) an expensive shirt from the cleaners to go on his date with Nadia. What's more he steals a broach from the store manager and gives it to Nadia as a gift; only to have it returned by Nadia to Rocco with a message to Simone that she doesn't want to see him ever again. For a short time, Simone has some success as a local boxer but soon falls from grace.
The next segment focuses on Rocco who can best be described as an 'enabler'. At the end of the film, Ciro describes Rocco as a 'saint' but criticizes him for forgiving everyone for their transgressions. Rocco's character is the linchpin of the film and he's not a convincing character at all. At first, he wants nothing to do with boxing as he regards it as sleazy. Rocco eventually wants to return to the South where his kind-hearted nature might flourish. After joining the Army, he runs into Nadia and they develop a hot and heavy relationship. This leads to the most dramatic moment in the film, when Simone rapes Nadia in front of Rocco out of jealousy and Rocco in turn orders Nadia to 'go back' to Simone out of some kind of misguided filial obligation. If you believe anyone would have been so attached to his brother after spending so much time trying to show a downtrodden prostitute a new life (and actually ending up transforming her), then perhaps I can sell you the Brooklyn Bridge. I know it's supposed to be an example of a 'family tragedy', but I just don't believe anyone would have done such a thing, especially after he's a direct witness to his girlfriend being raped. Equally unbelievable is the subsequent scene where Nadia is about to spit in Simone's face and tells him she'll never go back to him—and then ends up kissing him and agrees to be his concubine.
The last segment focuses on Ciro who is held up as the only well-adjusted brother in the clan. He is in effect, Rocco's better half. After Simone steals thousands of dollars from his former manager, Rocco (now a successful boxer himself), has his manager guarantee money to pay Simone's debts in exchange for a contract which will obligate him to fight for another 10 years. After Simone kills Nadia, Rocco keeps playing the part of the enabler by insisting that everyone in the family keep quiet. But Ciro wisely informs the police who pick Simone up for Nadia's murder. Ciro serves to restore order to the out of kilter Parondi clan. It's Ciro who also wisely tells Luca in the concluding scene that even returning to the south, the supposed fount of innocence, is not a panacea to life's problems since things are constantly changing and no one can predict the outcome of what life has in store for us.
'Rocco and his Brothers' is very well-acted coupled with excellent cinematography. It should have all the ingredients of a masterpiece but doesn't. That's because its main character is not believable. Sure there are plenty of people like Rocco who would bail their brothers out financially even with the knowledge they had done something wrong; but to order their true love back into a destructive relationship with their brother after he just raped her, that's something I couldn't believe.
One sad addendum: Annie Giardot (Nadia) who was married to Renato Salvatori (Simone) in real life, is still alive but has Alzheimer's and has no memory of her former life.
Film=5 Stars, DVD=3 Stars
mackjay | Cambridge, MA | 11/13/2001
(3 out of 5 stars)
"The long-awaited DVD release of Visconti's great novel-like film is here. Sad to report, it is something of a disappointment.
The film itself looks quite good, transferred from a well-preserved source. But this is the 168-minute version of "Rocco e i suoi Fratelli"--12 minutes of the original 180 minutes have been cut. To be fair, this version has been the "standard" on VHS for some time, presumably Image derived it from the source of earlier releases. It is really unfortunate that a full-length print could not be used here. Moreover, there are zero extras on the disc: just a static, hastily-produced menu. The English-only subtitles are removable.Visconti's film is traditional. It is a contemporary of "Shoot the Piano Player", "L'Avventura" and "La Dolce Vita", yet it has virtually nothing in common with them. Watching "Rocco" is like reading a 19th century novel, with chapters devoted to the five brothers of the title. All characters are well-drawn, the film is beautifully shot, acting is often brilliant. There are many unforgettable moments in what feels like a vast, panoramic view of several years in one family's history. One element Visconti shares in this film with Antonioni is the great Italian theme of transition from the old world to the modern world. Characters are forced to accept change, change themselves, or perish.In spite of these limitations, the DVD is recommended. If you don't watch it, you will miss a powerful cinematic experience."
JOHN D THOMPSON | NEW YORK, NY United States | 07/22/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Luchino Visconti's Marxist take on the changing Italian society circa 1960 was one of the most controversial and influential movies of the early 60's. Like LA DOLCE VITA it caused a sensation in the US and made an instant, international star of Alain Delon. Visconti mixes Old Testament themes starting with the expulsion from Eden & Cain and Abel, throws in lots of Dostoyevsky & even some of Bunuel's VIRIDIANA. It's quite a stew but I never heard anyone say they were bored. As the mother Katina Paxinou who was Jean Simmons' vile governess in THE INHERITANCE chews up enough scenery for 10 movies. Annie Giradot playing a prostitute gives such a vibrant performance that you wonder why she appeared here in only 2 or 3 movies over the next 30 years. Alain Delon's Rocco is a beautiful Prince Myshkin but he's very bland. As Simone his immediate older brother Renato Salvatore exudes so much animal magnatism he may have you jumping out of your skin. When he seduces Rocco's middleaged employer (to rob her) half the audience wishes they were she. Giuseppe Rotunno's beautiful black & white cinematography often acts as a commentary on the action especially in the scenes of more than graphic violence. Nino Rota wrote the fine score."
mackjay | 04/23/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Archetypal epic involving a Sicilian peasant family forced by poverty to move to the big city -- in this case, Milan. There, the mother and her four young sons join the oldest son, who's got a steady job and a steady girl. From this description thus far, you might feel inclined to pass on the movie because you've seen all this before . . . and you'd be right. Mario Puzo and -- later -- Francis Ford Coppola borrowed heavily from *Rocco and His Brothers* when they created their respective *Godfather* epics. Indeed, Rocco, his mother, his brothers, the prostitute, all begin as "types". There's a lot of "Mamma mia!" and hands raised in prayer; there's a lot of sweaty machismo; there's a lot of "amore". I think director Luchino Visconti had wanted to say something about proletarian post-War Italy with his stereotypical Porondi family. But he must have fell in love with them, because they burst free from their tedious Neo-Realist origins and become whole characters capable of change and inner growth. We are certainly grateful for that: all too often, the "realism" in Italian Neo-Realism becomes merely politics . . . and politics dates pretty quickly. Instead, Visconti lavishes his settings and characters with Dickensian detail to the point that by movie's end, they no longer seem like stereotypes, archetypes, or any other types. For a director noted for Neo-Realism, Visconti had a flair for bombastic grand tragedy and earthy good humor, which he's able to pull off so brilliantly in this movie because of the inexorable logic of the plot and the fastidious piling-upon-piling of detail and deep understanding of his creations. *Rocco and His Brothers* was an important movie for Visconti to make: from here, he dropped the pointy-headed dogmas of then-current Italian cinema, and, along with Fellini and others, struck out in a direction entirely his own, culminating in other masterworks like *The Damned* and *Death in Venice*. Sure, *Rocco* is a serious-minded social document, but it also has thoroughly engrossing melodramatics to spare . . . and that's what seems more important to us, 42 years later. [For the 2nd time in one month, I'm forced to gripe about "Image Entertainment"'s DVD presentation. Onerous enough is that there's no features, and the print is clearly from unrestored celluloid . . . but if what a reviewer below said is correct, 12 minutes are STILL missing from the movie, despite the claim on the box that it's fully restored and uncut. Can they get away with lying like this? Don't food products have to be truthful on their list of ingredients --? why are entertainment products any different? And why on earth do companies like Image and Fox-Lorber have a catalog of masterworks when they clearly have no interest in presenting them with the attention and care that they deserve? All that said, get the movie anyway, because who knows when a more scrupulous company will buy the rights and do Visconti's classic justice.]"