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185 - Rocco and his Brothers 
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Post 185 - Rocco and his Brothers
Prior to my journey, the only contact with Luchino Visconti had been Dirk Bogarde in “Death in Venice”. In the top 100 I had my first encounter with Burt Lancaster in his tale of the decline of Italian aristocracy in “The Leopard”. I since purchased the Criterion Blu Ray. In all, there are nine Visconti movies in the top 1000 and after meeting “Rocco and his Brothers” I can’t wait for more.

A mother and her four sons arrive in Milan to escape poverty. Her eldest son is already established and getting married. Over the 177 minutes that follows, a hugely influential epic, noir, melodrama unfolds. Don’t fret, the time will fly by.

Image

I don’t want to say too much about the story, as it would be easy to spoil the twists and turns that follow. Rocco is played by a young Alain Delon (can he really speak Italian?) and you might also recognize the impossibly gorgeous Claudia Cardinale. Best of all though is Annie Girardot, as the girlfriend, torn between two brothers.

I used the word melodrama carefully. The film has an almost musical or stage like feeling with reactions and emotions played up to the max. At times I felt we were in the territory of an American New York based musical with fighting gangs. There are major Shakespearean themes at play here.

Don’t get me wrong, I simply loved Rocco and his Bros. The black and white camera work is perfect with lovely use of shadow and silhouette, adding an Italian realism that wonderfully contrasts the tone of the film. In fact the music often seems designed to heighten the melodrama. Maybe this is part of the fun of Rocco? What exactly are we watching? I’m convinced that there are also strong gay themes in here that make the film even more interesting. Combining all this together the film veers into the realm of Douglas Sirk at times, without dazzling color, of course.

I began to wonder how many times Scorsese, Leone and Coppola watched this epic tale of multiple brothers in an Italian family? There are many scenes featuring the matriarch at the center. Boxing is the sport that provides the escape from reality and poverty. The sexual tension laced with bouts of shocking violence. There are, of course, scenes talking in the family kitchen. I have no idea if this was an influence, but the parallels are striking. Sadly, there was no commentary on the DVD for us to learn more.

I would love to see this film in a packed smoky cinema, with people who love great movies, then sit around and chat about the very obvious, almost campy themes. Sadly, most people will never meet Rocco. After all, it’s a fifty year old, 177 minute, black and white film from Italy and someone they have likely never heard of. Their loss, as they are missing a great film and alot of fun.

8/10
Rob


Wed May 18, 2011 9:46 am
Post Re: 185 - Rocco and his Brothers
I wrote about this some time ago right here:

viewtopic.php?p=80987#p80987

If you aren't feeling particularly lazy and/or righteous you (and by you I mean anyone) might want a second, less positive opinion. The movie wasn't particularly good and I attempt to make that case:

Quote:
Alain Delon is a perfect little angel in Luchino Visconti's hugely disappointing Rocco and His Brothers, currently the 161st Greatest Movie of All Time.

This one came to me via my admiration of Mr. Delon (see: my avatar) and his acting chops in any number of French classics + Francis Ford Coppola's admiration for the film + the influence this had on such classics as The Godfather and other tales of Italians in America. In Rocco he's there because he's pretty (and looks just like the little Saint he's supposed to be) but Delon, native French speaker that he is, has his entire vocal performance dubbed by Someone. Add to this the shitty transfer on Image's disc, the poor subtitles (spelling, grammar mistakes aplenty) and the fact of 90 minutes of story packed into 176 minutes of movie and you get one of the bigger let-downs of the past six months. For me, not necessarily for you.

The story concerns the Parondi family, country folk that make their way to the big city of Milan after the death of patriarch. Vincenzo, the eldest, is already in Milan and it's his mother and four younger brothers (Rocco, Luca, Ciro and Simone) that are the ones that have 176 minutes to adapt to life in the city. Much is made about how the family has "escaped" the effectively-indentured servitude of living off the country soil and how, to catapult themselves into the modern era, they must conquer the city and the affectations it forces upon this tidy lot.

Guess who wins? The city. Simone aims to become a boxing champion, Ciro gets a job building Alfa Romeos, Vincenzo is barely a character (one of a handful of great scenes has him squabbling with his future wife; she slaps him, defends her honor, he plays the part of country boy... it's an early promise that the movie fails to deliver on. GAH!), and Luca is a little kid that has more symbolic significance than anything else. Oh, I'm joking. All the characters are more symbolic significance than anything else! Simone is The Corrupted, Rocco is The Saint (and Delon played Tom Ripley the very same year...), Luca is The Future, Vincenzo is The Past Grappling With The Present. Forgive me for being so glib.

It doesn't take a keen eye to see how this one influenced The Godfather and it doesn't take but a semblance of sanity to say that, no matter how influential this may have been and no matter how controversial it was at the time of its release, this story was improved upon many times over the past fifty years. There's a cheap soap operatic feel to Rocco with its high highs and low lows. That it still manages to earn its tragic final 10 minutes is more a testament to the power inherent in watching a family dissolve than Visconti's sloppy execution.

If it was Visconti's sloppy execution. This movie suffered from many alterations that Visconti was apparently unhappy with; the violence was toned down, a full 30+ minutes were completely edited out, and none of this is aided by Image's terrible disc. The video looks washed-out, the audio is more often than not out-of-sync and there's the glaring problem (what can you do? Delon was French.) of some rogue actor dubbing all of Rocco's lines. The film just doesn't have much power to it -- boxing, prostitution, flirtations with homosexuality, domestic drama... all are the stuff of potential greatness but nothing comes together with any triumph in Rocco and His Brothers. And it's so choppy! Nobody should have been happy with the edit job this one got.

But in Annie Girardot's excellence performance as love-interest/prostitute/family-destroyer Nadia I saw what the movie would have been in 1960. Simone's downfall is certainly dramatic but, as presented, too abrupt. Rocco is a dullard, Luca is a bookend... this isn't the same movie that Visconti wanted to give audiences, I'm sure of it. It was re-released a few years back in a restored 35-mm print and I would one day like to see that version of the film. Until that version is widely available I'm advising you skip right ahead to the 162nd Greatest Movie of All Time: Cries and Whispers.


Wed May 18, 2011 1:41 pm
Assistant Second Unit Director

Joined: Mon Mar 08, 2010 10:41 am
Posts: 78
Post Re: 185 - Rocco and his Brothers
Robert Holloway wrote:
Rocco is played by a young Alain Delon (can he really speak Italian?)


From a fundamental opus on L'Eclisse:
http://www.davidsaulrosenfeld.com/
We do not even know whose voice truly issues forth from the mouth of Piero. The character Piero is himself an amalgam of a visual representation of the actor, Alain Delon, and the disembodied voice of an uncredited native Italian speaker who provides the auditory representation of Piero, an act of dubbing Delon’s accented Italian in post-production of L'eclisse. Delon’s voice in the original Italian soundtrack of L'eclisse was in fact dubbed by the Italian actor, Gabriele Antonini, a photograph—a “pure” visual image—of whom is on page 28 of Vol. 3, Part 1, of the Dizionario del cinema italiano. When Vittoria and Piero recite their lines of eternal fidelity to one another in Piero’s office, it was actually Gabriele Antonini who was speaking into a microphone in the dubbing stage of the post-production facility.

If you wish to hear snippets of Delon actually speaking Italian see (viz. “listen to”) the horrible American film, Once a Thief [1965]. In this latter film Delon plays an Italian immigrant to America from Trieste whose accented English is disconcertingly French and whose brief Italian dialogue is not the perfectly unaccented Italian of Piero in L'eclisse. Or listen to and watch a brief video clip of Delon attempting to adopt a southern Italian accent in his performance in The Yellow Rolls-Royce [1964]; (vide infra, blue hyperlink towards the conclusion of Endnote 29 of this book). An uncredited Italian actor, Achille Millo, had dubbed Delon’s Italian dialogue for Rocco e i suoi fratelli (in which Delon played an Italian from Lucania) made shortly before L'eclisse in 1960. In the case of the Sicilian prince, Tancredi Falconieri, who Delon played in Il gattopardo [1963] shortly after L'eclisse, Delon’s Italian was dubbed by Carlo Sabatini, again an uncredited attribution. We will never know the “pure” Piero (at least in the present Criterion Collection version of L'eclisse which contains only the original Italian sountrack), but only his visual and auditory mosaic. I am in personal possession of a Pioneer Ldc., Inc. (Japanese) DVD of L’éclipse (“Cinemadict Coollection” [sic]) in which the audio is curiously, only in French with optional Japanese or Chinese subtitles; it is my estimation that the audio of both the actors Vitti and Delon is spoken in French by themselves based on the degree to which I recognize the distinctive voices of both actors, particularly Vitti, and their manner of speaking French. (I am not a good lip-reader, but it appeared to me that at times Delon was mouthing from a visual analysis some dialogue in French.) It is also theoretically possible that in some countries the voice of Delon-Piero in L’eclisse was dubbed into languages other than Italian or French, i.e. English or Greek; I have personally not seen (“heard”) such versions of L’eclisse, which does not mean that they do not exist.


Wed May 18, 2011 3:42 pm
Profile
Post Re: 185 - Rocco and his Brothers
majoraphasia wrote:
I wrote about this some time ago right here:

viewtopic.php?p=80987#p80987

If you aren't feeling particularly lazy and/or righteous you (and by you I mean anyone) might want a second, less positive opinion. The movie wasn't particularly good and I attempt to make that case:

Quote:
Alain Delon is a perfect little angel in Luchino Visconti's hugely disappointing Rocco and His Brothers, currently the 161st Greatest Movie of All Time.

This one came to me via my admiration of Mr. Delon (see: my avatar) and his acting chops in any number of French classics + Francis Ford Coppola's admiration for the film + the influence this had on such classics as The Godfather and other tales of Italians in America. In Rocco he's there because he's pretty (and looks just like the little Saint he's supposed to be) but Delon, native French speaker that he is, has his entire vocal performance dubbed by Someone. Add to this the shitty transfer on Image's disc, the poor subtitles (spelling, grammar mistakes aplenty) and the fact of 90 minutes of story packed into 176 minutes of movie and you get one of the bigger let-downs of the past six months. For me, not necessarily for you.

The story concerns the Parondi family, country folk that make their way to the big city of Milan after the death of patriarch. Vincenzo, the eldest, is already in Milan and it's his mother and four younger brothers (Rocco, Luca, Ciro and Simone) that are the ones that have 176 minutes to adapt to life in the city. Much is made about how the family has "escaped" the effectively-indentured servitude of living off the country soil and how, to catapult themselves into the modern era, they must conquer the city and the affectations it forces upon this tidy lot.

Guess who wins? The city. Simone aims to become a boxing champion, Ciro gets a job building Alfa Romeos, Vincenzo is barely a character (one of a handful of great scenes has him squabbling with his future wife; she slaps him, defends her honor, he plays the part of country boy... it's an early promise that the movie fails to deliver on. GAH!), and Luca is a little kid that has more symbolic significance than anything else. Oh, I'm joking. All the characters are more symbolic significance than anything else! Simone is The Corrupted, Rocco is The Saint (and Delon played Tom Ripley the very same year...), Luca is The Future, Vincenzo is The Past Grappling With The Present. Forgive me for being so glib.

It doesn't take a keen eye to see how this one influenced The Godfather and it doesn't take but a semblance of sanity to say that, no matter how influential this may have been and no matter how controversial it was at the time of its release, this story was improved upon many times over the past fifty years. There's a cheap soap operatic feel to Rocco with its high highs and low lows. That it still manages to earn its tragic final 10 minutes is more a testament to the power inherent in watching a family dissolve than Visconti's sloppy execution.

If it was Visconti's sloppy execution. This movie suffered from many alterations that Visconti was apparently unhappy with; the violence was toned down, a full 30+ minutes were completely edited out, and none of this is aided by Image's terrible disc. The video looks washed-out, the audio is more often than not out-of-sync and there's the glaring problem (what can you do? Delon was French.) of some rogue actor dubbing all of Rocco's lines. The film just doesn't have much power to it -- boxing, prostitution, flirtations with homosexuality, domestic drama... all are the stuff of potential greatness but nothing comes together with any triumph in Rocco and His Brothers. And it's so choppy! Nobody should have been happy with the edit job this one got.

But in Annie Girardot's excellence performance as love-interest/prostitute/family-destroyer Nadia I saw what the movie would have been in 1960. Simone's downfall is certainly dramatic but, as presented, too abrupt. Rocco is a dullard, Luca is a bookend... this isn't the same movie that Visconti wanted to give audiences, I'm sure of it. It was re-released a few years back in a restored 35-mm print and I would one day like to see that version of the film. Until that version is widely available I'm advising you skip right ahead to the 162nd Greatest Movie of All Time: Cries and Whispers.



and I can totally understand Major's opinion here. I had alot of fun with this film
Rob

and yes, Cries and whispers happened to be my next film. Strange coincidence :-)


Wed May 18, 2011 5:10 pm
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