Boccaccio ’70 (1962) | Italian sexual mores as seen through the eyes of Fellini, Visconti, De Sica and Monicelli
Italy’s greatest directors bring four stories of Italian post-war sexual mores and morality to cinematic life in the 1962 big-screen anthology Boccaccio ’70, which gets a brand-new remaster on Blu-ray, DVD and digital from CultFilms in the UK.
Federico Fellini directs his first colour work, the wild fantasy, Le tentazioni del dottor Antonio, which perfectly illustrates why Fellini is Fellini. Starring Anita Ekberg, who beguiled cinema audiences as the lady in the Trevi Fountain in 1960’s La Dolce Vita, Fellini’s surreal play sees a prudish man driven insane when a giant billboard featuring the ravishing Ekberg comes to life.
Luchino Visconti provides some serious melodrama with Il lavoro, a play in which Romy Schneider’s aristocratic housewife shows her independent side when her husband’s affairs make front page news. This one features what Time Magazine described as ‘surely one of the most provocative stripteases to be recorded on film’.
Vittorio De Sica’s story, La riffa, sees screen siren Sophia Loren putting her sexual favours up for auction in a bid a to pay off her taxes. While the portraits conclude with director Mario Monicelli’s once lost segment, Renzo e Luciana – a sweet, funny play about two working class lovers (Marisa Solinas and Germano Gilioli) who keep their impending marriage a secret in order to keep their jobs.
With an exciting soundtrack from the legendary Nino Rota and Armando Trovaili and outstanding camerawork, Boccaccio ’70 is a slice of cinematic history past that deserves multiple viewings.
For the first-time ever, the film is presented here in both its original language with new, improved, English subtitles and alternatively with an English audio track. The new Blu-ray release also features previously the unseen documentary, Sophia, Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow, a candid, intimate interview with Sophia Loren with contributions from Woody Allen, Giorgio Armani and other close friends and collaborators.
Boccaccio ’70 is available on Blu-ray, DVD and digital from CultFilms in the UK from 26 June 2017
Rocco and His Brothers (1960) | Lucino Visconti’s working class melodrama is a gritty, gripping masterpiece
From Eureka Entertainment comes the worldwide Blu-ray release of Luchino Visconti’s melodramatic 1960 masterpiece Rocco and His Brothers.
In 1950s Italy, recently widowed Rosaria Parondi (Katina Paxinou) and her four sons, Simone (Renato Salvatori), Rocco (Alain Delon), Ciro (Max Cartier) and Luca (Rocco Vidolazzi), leave their impoverished home in Bari in the south for metropolitan Milan where they hope to lodge with their eldest brother Vincenzo (Spiros Focás). But, on discovering he is to be engaged to young Ginetta (Claudia Cardinale) without her consent, Rosario makes a scene that insults his potential in-laws.
Finding temporary housing in the basement of an unheated block of flats, the family struggles to fit into a city where southerners are treated with the utmost disdain. Simone and Rocco soon begin to train as boxers, while Ciro sets about studying, and Vincenzo begins a family with Ginetta. Over time, however, Rosaria finds her southern values challenged, while her sons’ tight-knit bond becomes sorely tested…
Taking inspiration from the novel Il Ponte della Ghisolfa by Giovanni Testori, Lucino Visconti weaves a working class melodrama that might seem grim, grey and angry on the surface, but it’s full of intensity and energy borne out by the sublime performances of Alain Delon, Renato Salvatori and Annie Girardot, whose characters are at the heart of this powerful, often violent tale of love, passion and morality.
Delon delivers one of his finest roles as the noble Rocco, a gentle soul who will go to the ends of the Earth to save his boxer brother Simone from the moral abyss that confronts him. Playing Caine to Delon’s Abel, Salvatori is a standout: raw, rough and the epitome of wounded pride; and as the spirited prostitute in love with both brothers, Girardot is totally captivating and makes for a truly tragic screen heroine. (Incidentally, Girardot and Salvatori married two years later).
But watch out for Katina Paxinou, her protective matriarch Rosario is the Italian mother personified. Her scene unleashing her wrath (complete with southern dialect profanties and gestures) on Girardot’s Nadia is one of the film’s most memorable, and identifiable, moments.
The film’s social statements may walk a thin line at times, but Visconti brings a neo-realist eye and an operatic sensibility to his episodic epic that grips you until the bittersweet end. But kudos go to cinematographer Giuseppe Rotunno’s film for bringing Visconti’s powerful imagery to luminous life. From the framing of the film’s four male stars in all their masculine beauty to the sweeping city vistas; and from the dark side-streets and shadow-lit boxing ring to Milan’s deserted Ravizza park where the film’s most violent scenes play out, Rotunno’s monochrome camerawork is breathtaking, while Nina Rota’s hypnotic jazz score is an atmospheric highlight.
Eureka’s Blu-ray, released as part of The Masters of Cinema series, features a HD presentation of the film (which reinstates two scenes cut by the censors) from a new 4k restoration, which also feature the following extras…
- Optional English subtitles
- Two audio choices; the original Italian, and the French dub
- Les coulisses du tournage, a 2003 French documentary about the film
- 1999 interview with cinematographer Giuseppe Rotunno
- Interview with actress Claudia Cardinale
- 2002 interview with actress Annie Girardot
- Luchino Visconti: A 60min documentary about the director’s life and career
- Two vintage newsreels
- Original Italian trailer
‘This picture will be a science fiction… a trip back in time… into an unknown dimension’. ‘There is no end, no beginning. There is only the infinite passion of life. Everything is divine… if one looks with innocent eyes’.
Rome. Before Christ. After Fellini.
Fellini-Satyricon isn’t about some crazy cosplay convention for mythical goat-like creatures, but a visionary 1960s satire in which the legendary Italian director was at his most Fellini-esque. Having played a Dantesque pilgrim exploring Rome (aka his ‘city of illusion’) in his septimal 1960’s masterpiece La Dolce Vita, and going all self-reflexive and avant-garde in 1963’s 8½, Fellini’s next Rome epic went back into a distant age, a time when excess was the ‘piatto del giorno’. Visionary, vulgar, phantasmagorical, and very queer indeed, Fellini-Satyricon is a fantastical spectacle that brings to exuberant existence the kind of frescos that would be unearthed (ever so briefly) in Fellini’s 1972 surreal travelogue, Roma and indeed appear in Satyricon‘s closing scenes.
‘Man standing alone before the fascinating mystery of life, all its terror, its beauty, and its passion’ is at the heart of Fellini’s episodic dream tapesty, loosely based on Gauis Petronius’ late 1st-century AD Roman novel. The story, for what its worth, follows student Encolpio (Martin Potter) and his lover Ascilto (Hiram Keller) encountering a series misadventures involving a pirate ship packed with attractive young men, the disastrous abduction of a hermaphrodite demi-god, and a gladiatorial fight with a minotaur – in between our strapping heroes bedding prostitutes in local brothels and getting drunk at bacchanalian orgies.
Fellini combines Petronius’ fragmentary novel with other mythical tales to weave an allegorical satire about the world in which he himself was becoming an outsider – Rome in the 1960s. One that was as degenerate and crazy as the Roman world described by Suetonius in his twelve Caesars biographies, and one that was also in revolt from the youth of day. For Encolpio and Ascilto, who are hippies from out of time and space, this was a world where total self-fullfilment was the Roman way under the reign of Nero.
Fellini’s free-flowing, hallucinatory myth restored is a film that is to be experienced rather than understood. Indeed, early-1970s audiences found Fellini’s far-out Roman feast a weird and wonderful acid trip and a stoner favourite. The dialogue, for the most part, maybe gibberish, but the visuals are simply intoxticating, with Fellini making full use of the ‘Scope frame (as he did with La Dolce Vita) by filling the screen with a richly textured colour palette and superb composition. In fact, looking at his grand operatic set pieces, you can see how Derek Jarman and Peter Greenaway were influenced by Fellini’s most Fellini-esque of films. And what better way to watch it, than in glorious full widescreen HD.
THE MASTERS OF CINEMA RELEASE
Featuring a brand new 4K restoration, provided by Hollywood Classics/Criterion Collection, Fellini-Satyricon gets its first-time UK Blu-ray release from Eureka! as part of their Masters of Cinema Series. The special features include the following…
• Optional English dub track (If you choose this, you’ll notice that the English actors speak in their tongue – but don’t worry if it looks out of synch, as that’s how Fellini wanted it to be).
• Optional Italian track without subtitles.
• Theatrical trailer.
• Collector’s booklet featuring the 1968 Federico Fellini essay, Preface to the Treatment, about the mythic aspects of the director’s film (fascinating!); Sabrina Marques’ 2015 essay Fellini: Subversion by Excess (which I didn’t understand); Pasquale Iannone’s 2015 essay, Fellinscope, on the director’s use of widescreen (hugely informative); and the 1968 Vogue article Fellini-Satyricon-Dossier, again with Fellini (also very interesting).
Did You Know?
There was another film called Satyricon, by director Gian Luigi Polidoro, that was also released in 1969, but the producers claimed the title first – hence the use of Fellini’s name to distinguish between the two.