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 »ortune. The family is thrown into chaos when two of the brothers are torn apart by their love for the same woman and their struggles to succeed in a viciously competitive world. French heartthrob Alain Delon is the gentle, idealistic Rocco, and Italian movie star Renato Salvatori is the undisciplined, savagely jealous Simone. Internationally renowned director Luchino Visconti (Senso, The Leopard, Death in Venice) combined keenly realistic observations and strong passions to create one of his most satisfying and deeply affecting films -restored and unedited!« less
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.]"
The Boxer, the Saint and the Prostitute
Charles S. Tashiro | Agoura Hills, CA USA | 12/12/2001
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Alternately striking and tedious, "Rocco and His Brothers" is an awkward blend of social realism and operatic melodrama. Presumably an attempt to dramatize the social consequences of Italy's internal Diaspora from South to North, the film suffers from the contradictory aims of trying to make one family socially typical while also individually compelling. All of the characters are at one level "types," whose dramatic function is to reveal aspects of social transformation. Most, however, are also burdened with "individual" character touches that seem both contrived and overwrought.Nowhere is this more the case than the central conflict between the unbelievably saintly Rocco (Alain Delon) and his wastrel brother Simone (Renato Salvatori) over the love of a prostitute, Nadia (Annie Girardot). The hackneyed triangular situation is compelling thanks to the strength of the performances and the larger-than-life passions it unleashes. Unfortunately, none of it feels very "Realistic," in the sense of revealing aspects of experience through observed behavior and detail. We are far too aware of the broad brush strokes for the situation to work as anything other than heavy-handed, if undeniably effective, manipulation. The emotions are so out of keeping with the film's social goals as to tear the film apart. Or, to put it differently, there are no doubt many love triangles among the working class, and some may well result in the tragedies "Rocco" dramatizes. It is simply that this situation as depicted is not convincing as typical, nor does it reveal as much about social reality as it does about the filmmaker's desires and ambitions.Visconti was one of the "Big Three" of Italian NeoRealism (the others being Roberto Rossellini and Vittorio de Sica). His work usually demonstrated a tension between his social realist interests (he was a member of the Italian Communist party) and his experience as a world renown opera director steeped in the Western aesthetic tradition. (He was also a Duke with a family lineage going back to Charlemagne's era.) These contradictions are at work in varying degree in all of his work, but are rarely as apparent as in "Rocco." The film is never anything less than a committed work of art. It may not make much sense, but it certainly isn't sloppy or shoddy. It is, however, almost fatally uneven, the perhaps inevitable result of a director uncertain where he wanted to go. Visconti's greatest work, "The Leopard," his next film but one after "Rocco," finally resolved that question. So when can we look forward to that appearing on DVD?"
All In The Family
Alex Udvary | chicago, il United States | 03/02/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"For years now my favorite Luchino Visconti film has been "Ludwig". His grand sweeping epic. I've always felt that was his most ambitious film. True, Visconti has made other film that are great in their scope like "The Leopard", or "The Damned". But, none has touched me on such a personal level as "Ludwig", and then I saw this film. While, I admit, I don't think it's as grand as "Ludwig", "Rocco and his Brothers", is a powerful, emotional, saga. Luchino Visconti is a director whom I've always had wonderful things to say about. He is one of my favorite directors of all time. And I always feel there is something to admire about all of his films, even those I may not be crazy about, I still found something good to say about them. "Rocco and his Brothers" is a story about a family of five brothers and their mother who move from the country into the city. The brothers are played by Alain Delon (Rocco), Renato Salvatori (Simone), Spiros Focas (Vincenzo), Max Cartier (Ciro), & Rocco Vidolazzi (Luca). The movie creates little episodic chapters for each brother. Telling you briefly something about them, in about 30-40 minutes. Now, the only fault I have with the film is, I feel it doesn't devote enough time to all the brothers. For instance characters like Ciro or Luca are not given much depth. Very little is known about them. The role of Vincezo is so-so, over-all, it is better than the other two brothers. What really makes the movie so wonderful are the three focal characters; Rocco (Delon), Simone (Salvatori) & Nadia (Annie Girardot) a woman of the streets who begins a love affair with Simone, and then starts a rival between two of the brothers, I honestly don't want to give too much away. But they have the best parts. It is because of them the movie has as much heart as it does. Visconti does an amazing job directing them. And it is because of the story-line concerning these three characters that I can "forgive" the film's short comings with the other characters. Though the film is hard to find, just keep looking. It will all be worth it. I personally wouldn't recommend buying the film on vhs...if you have a dvd player, your better off buying the dvd... . I was lucky and saw the movie on TCM. "Rocco and his Brothers" is a film Visconti fans should be pleased with. Those of us who have seen will never forget the impact it left on us the first time we saw it. The rest of the cast includes; Katina Paxinou (Rosaria, the mother), Alessandra Panaro (Ciro's fiancess), and Claudia Cardinale (who plays Ginetta, Vincenzo's wife. She of course would be a major star appearing in other Visconti films like "Conversation Piece", and "The Leopard", also "Big Deal On Madonna Street" and Fellini's "8 1\2") Bottom-line: One of Luchino Visconti's most absorbing dramas. A film of tremendous heart and passion. With standout performances by it's three lead stars."