|Page 1 of 4:||   |
|Index||32 reviews in total|
74 out of 76 people found the following review useful:
Much ahead of its time and still powerful, 3 November 2003
Author: debblyst from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Watching "Ossessione" today -- more than 6 decades later -- is still a
powerful experience, especially for those interested in movie history
and more specifically on how Italian filmmakers changed movies forever
(roughly from "Ossessione" and De Sica's "I Bambini Ci Guardano", both
1943, up to 20 years later with Fellini, Antonioni, Pasolini). Visconti
makes an amazing directing début, taking the (uncredited) plot of "The
Postman Always Rings Twice" as a guide to the development of his own
It strikes us even today how ahead of its time "Ossessione" was. Shot in Fascist Italy during World War II (think about it!!), it depicted scenes and themes that caused the film to be immediately banned from theaters -- and the fact that it used the plot of a famous American novel and payed no copyright didn't help.
"Ossessione" alarmingly reveals poverty-ridden war-time Italy (far from the idealized Italy depicted in Fascist "Telefoni Bianchi" movies); but it's also extremely daring in its sexual frankness, with shirtless hunk Gino (Massimo Girotti, who definitely precedes Brando's Kowalski in "A Streetcar Named Desire") taking Giovanna (Clara Calamai), a married woman, to bed just 5 minutes after they first meet. We watch Calamai's unglamorous, matter-of-fact undressing and the subtle but undeniable homosexual hints between Gino and Lo Spagnolo (Elio Marcuzzo - a very appealing actor, his face not unlike Pierre Clémenti's, who was shot by the Nazis in 1945, at 28 years old!)...In a few words: sex, lust, greed and poverty, as relentlessly as it had rarely, if ever, been shown before in Italian cinema.
All the copies of "Ossessione" were destroyed soon after its opening -- it was called scandalous and immoral. Visconti managed to save a print, and when the film was re-released after the war, most critics called it the front-runner of the Neo-Realist movement, preceding Rossellini's "Roma CIttà Aperta" and De Sica's "Sciuscià". Some other critics, perhaps more appropriately, saw "Ossessione" as the Italian counterpart to the "poetic realism" of French cinema (remember Visconti had been Renoir's assistant), especially Marcel Carné's "Quai des Brumes" and "Le Jour se Lève", and Julien Duvivier's "Pépé le Moko".
While "Ossessione" may be Neo-Realistic in its visual language (the depiction of war-time paesan life in Italy with its popular fairs, poverty, child labor, prostitution, bums, swindlers etc), the characters and the themes were already decidedly Viscontian. He was always more interested in tragic, passionate, obsessive, greedy characters, in social/political/sexual apartheid, in the decadence of the elites than in realistic, "everyday- life" characters and themes, favored by DeSica and Rossellini. In "Ossessione" we already find elements of drama and tragedy later developed in many of his films, especially "Senso" (Visconti's definitive departure from Neo-Realist aesthetics) and "Rocco e Suoi Fratelli"...Even in his most "Neo-Realist" film, "La Terra Trema", he makes his fishermen rise from day-to-day characters to mythological figures.
"Ossessione" is a good opportunity to confirm the theory about great artists whose body of work approaches, analyzes and develops specific themes and concerns over and over again, from their first to their last opus, no matter if the scenery, background or time-setting may change -- Visconti may play with the frame but the themes and essence of his art are, well, obsessively recurrent. "Ossessione" is not to be missed: you'll surely be fascinated by this ground-breaking, powerful film.
46 out of 50 people found the following review useful:
Fascinating retelling of a James M. Cain noir classic., 22 July 2003
Author: Infofreak from Perth, Australia
I'll be upfront - I know nothing about Italian neo-realism, and the only Visconti movie I'd seen prior to this was his silly but enjoyable nazisploitation classic 'The Damned'. But I'm a great fan of James M. Cain's pulp crime classic 'The Postman Always Rings Twice', and this superb retelling of it fascinated me from beginning to end. A few crucial plot points are changed, an interesting supporting character ("The Spaniard") has been added, and the movie has a very different tone from what Cain fans might expect. The original novella, and the subsequent Hollywood versions of it (in '46 and '81) are thrillers, 'Ossessione' isn't. It's more of a story of a doomed love affair. The basic plot is the same - a drifter has a passionate fling with an unhappily married woman and helps her murder her husband - but Visconti approaches the material in a very different manner. The movie is brilliantly filmed, and the acting by the three leads are first rate. You really get a genuine insight into 1940s Italian working class life. The character of The Spaniard adds an interesting touch to the story with a possible homosexual relationship between Gino and himself. It's very subtle but it's there if you look. I thought making Giovanna pretty but not a complete bombshell like Lana Turner added to the realism and credibility of the story. I also was impressed by the small role played by the dancer/part time prostitute Gino buys an ice cream for towards the end of the picture. She doesn't get much screen time sadly, but she is really wonderful. The movie is surprisingly frank for the time and period (Mussolini's Italy), much more realistic and earthy than Hollywood movies of the same period. If you are looking for a straight forward thriller then the Lana Turner/John Garfield version of 'The Postman Always Rings Twice' is probably the better place to start, but if you want to see a brilliant drama then this is the superior movie in my opinion.
27 out of 28 people found the following review useful:
A haunting tale of greed and desire., 12 May 1999
Author: Rigor from Chicago, USA
This is a haunting, powerful Italian adaptation of James M. Cain's novel The Postman Always Rings Twice directed by the great Luchino Visconti. What is so interesting about the film is that in every way it transcends it's source material to become something bolder and more original (interestingly Camus also credits Cain's novel as the key inspiration for his landmark novel The Stranger). The film has a greater power and intensity than the novel because Visconti is able to create the filmic equivalent of Cain's narrative structure but offer a more complex exploration of gender. Cain's very American novel is also uncritically fascinated with the construction of whiteness (the lead character Cora is obsessively afraid she will be identified as a Mexican and embarrassed that she married a Greek immigrant), which is not relevant to the Italian rural context that Visconti is working in. This allows the class antagonisms to take center stage and dance among the embers of the passionate, doomed love affair of the two main characters. This film is a complex, suspenseful, rewarding experience.
22 out of 24 people found the following review useful:
Marvelous, 21 June 2002
Author: zetes from Saint Paul, MN
Visconti's first feature, Ossessione is an adaptation of James M. Cain's The Postman Always Rings Twice. Now, I'm not familiar with that book or the other film versions, but I am a big fan of Cain's Double Indemnity (much more so than I am a fan of Billy Wilder's film version of it, in fact). The two novellas seem like they must be very similar. Both involve an illicit love affair where a ravenous wife complains to a morally weak man that her husband is worthless and mean to her. Giovanna, the woman in this Italian version, played very well by Clara Calamai, is not evil incarnate like the wife in Double Indemnity, but she seems very spoiled. Her husband (a great performance by Juan de Landa) is a bit cruel to her, but she strikes me like she is at least as uncompromising with him. He's older than her and unattractive, so she's rather fickle. When Gino shows up, a young, muscular man, it takes her about five minutes to get him into bed. She sweats she wants to be with him forever, but she's stuck with her husband. They break up at first, but when they meet again, they (apparently, although this is intentionally vague) plan to murder the husband. They are successful, and they move back to the woman's home town to run the bar that her husband owned. Gino is very unenthusiastic about this idea. He wants Giovanna, but the one thing that he certainly doesn't want is to sit around in one place for the rest of his life. Their relationship quickly crumbles. Ossessione is a very complex film with complex characters. It's always fascinating, but it does go on a bit too long. At two hours and twenty-two minutes, I can't, for the life of me, figure out how it took that long! This is partly due to the neorealist stylistics that Visconti was inventing within this film. It was, after all, the first film that won that label. We see a lot of the action prolonged as it would be in real life, without any hurrying to the next plot point. I've seen many of Visconti's films, and the only one I like better than this one is Rocco and His Brothers (1960). His direction is as great as it ever was, with the camera moving brilliantly and the editing perfect. I also feel the need to point out the film's best performance, by Dhia Christiani as a young (exotic) dancer and part-time prostitute named Anita whom Gino meets after he begins to try to break away from Giovanna. She's only in the film for maybe five or six minutes, and she has only a few lines. It's shocking how much Visconti and Christiani are able to do with this character in such a short time. She's absolutely heartbreaking. 9/10.
18 out of 21 people found the following review useful:
You could watch it ten times and still delight in its nuances., 26 May 2004
Author: Ben_Cheshire from Oz
Wow! The sort of movie you could watch ten times and still delight in its
nuances. Absolutely incredible! If this was Visconti's debut film, i
shudder to think what would happen if he got any better from film to film.
The only other one of his i've seen (at time of writing) is Death in Venice
- which was absolutely incredible: more dazzling visually than Ossessione
(Obsession). One of the most beautiful films i've ever seen, but its story
was not as involving as Ossessione. If you click on "miscellaneous" on this
page's links, there are stills from the movie on those websites. They won't
really do justice to the experience of the movie: such graceful camera
movements, such beautiful composition, such wonderful faces, such terrific
characters, such a great story development, the first movie adapted from
James M Cain's "The Postman Always Rings Twice."
I can't believe this was made in 43, eight years before Brando was supposed to have introduced realistic acting to the world with Streetcar Named Desire (1951). The actors in this may not have used the method technique, ie they may not have truly felt everything themselves (i don't know anything about it) - but they're some of the best, most genuine and realistic performances up to this date in cinema. Also, eight years before Streetcar Named Desire brought a new sensuality to the screen, Ossessione was electrifyingly sensual! The most sensual thing since the beginning of cinema! Yes, i'm being superlative, but Ossessione was just that terrific.
The reason Ossessione didn't cause the impact Streetcar did was that it was made in fascist Italy and banned by Mussolini, and re-cut in America. American audiences didn't see its full glory till 59, eight years AFTER Streetcar.
I won't say any more about it - just writing to tell you its one of the best, most beautiful and exciting movies i've ever seen, and tell you to go out and see it! Like another reviewer, i'm going to buy it as soon as i can find it!
20 out of 25 people found the following review useful:
Obsession, 26 January 2006
Author: jotix100 from New York
Luchino Visconti was light years ahead of his contemporaries. The great
directors of Italy of the 40s and 50s were men who understood the
medium, but it was Luchino Visconti, a man of vision, who dared to
bring a film like to show what he was capable of doing. He clearly
shows his genius early on in his distinguished career with
"Ossessione", a film based on James Cain's "The Postman Always Ring
Twice", which was later made by Hollywood, but that version pales in
comparison with what Visconti achieved in the movie. Luchino Visconti
and his collaborators on the screen included an uncredited Alberto
Moravia, a man who knew about the effect of passion on human beings.
The film has been well preserved in the DVD format we watched recently. The film is a must for all serious movie fans because we can see how Visconti's vision translated the text into a movie that rings true in a plausible way, something the American version lacked.
What comes across watching the movie, is the intensity which the director got from his key players. The magnificent Clara Calamai does an amazing job as Giovanna, the woman who has married an older man, but when Gino appears in her life, all she wants to do is rid herself of the kind man who gave her an opportunity in life. Giovanna is one of the best creations in Ms. Calamai's achievements in the Italian cinema. The last sequence of the film shows Ms. Calamai at her best in the ironic twist that serves as the moral redemption for the monstrous crime that was committed.
Equally excellent is Massimo Girotti, one of the best actors of his generation who appears as Gino, the hunky man that awakens the obsessive passion in Giovanna. Gino is the perfect man for Giovanna, something that Mr. Girotti projects with such ease and sophistication not equaled before in the screen. Mr. Girotti makes the man come alive in a performance that seems so easy, yet with another actor it might not have been so apparent. Juan DeLanda is seen as Giuseppe, the older man who fell in love with Giovanna. In fact, his character rings truer than his counterpart in the American film, where he is seen more as a buffoon.
The film is beautifully photographed by Domenic Scala and Aldo Tonti. They gave the film a naturalistic look that was the way Italian directors of the era favored. The original musical score of Giuseppe Rosati is perfect. Visconti, a man who loved opera and was one of the best directors, also includes arias by Bizet and Verdi that fit well in the context of the movie.
"Ossessione" is a film to treasure because we see a great Luchino Visconti at the top of his form.
12 out of 12 people found the following review useful:
A gripping glimpse into the psychology of murder, greed and desire, 24 June 2002
Author: Night Must Fall from on a shaky bicycle, NY
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
(Some spoilers) I have not read the James M. Cain novel (`The Postman
Always Rings Twice') on which this movie was based, so I cannot compare this
film version to it, but I have seen and love the 1946 US version (also
Even better is this gem from Italy, which, I have read, was `mutilated' in editing because of too many blatant references to the Fascist regime. Well, no matter what is left is a fine piece of cinema, apparently the forerunner of the neo-realist movement in film-making. One can certainly see why despite whatever harsh editing did go on, a pervading sense of societal and cultural, as well as personal oppression remains, hanging heavy over the protagonists, who therefore face many limits in life.
Consider Gino, the young drifter, not well educated, unemployed, and resorting to stowing away, stealing and conning people in order to get by, his one pair of shoes so threadbare as to be virtually useless.
In Giovanna, he sees a way out, yet he should have kept going, as Giovanna is oppressed by her loveless marriage to an older man with some money, her job (working at the trattoria for her husband, slaving away behind the bar and in the kitchen), and her sex. In the past, she had limited options, and decided to marry the restaurant/gas station owner (Giuseppe Bregana, played by Juan de Landa) anyway, knowing that he would not make her happy. She tells Gino that she feels sick every time Bregana touches her.
On the pretext of helping Bregana fix his car and sending him into the village to buy a needed part (which he has in fact pocketed), Gino wins Bregana's favor (promising also to fix the broken water pump water symbolizing life, or lack thereof) and is left alone with Giovanna. They immediately start a heated, passionate, yet volatile love affair.
Gino soon feels stifled by the relationship, and feels the need to move on again when Giovanna proposes that they dispose of her husband. Wanting no part of it, Gino leaves town on a train ride that he cannot afford, kindly paid for him by another gypsy-type man named Spagnolo, a fellow train passenger. To Gino, Spagnolo represents a sort of freedom, and they become friends (Spagnolo also symbolizes Gino's morality and conscience), traveling and finding work at a carnival together. Finally Gino has steady employment. To his dismay (he is not yet over his love for Giovanna), a month has passed when Bregana and his wife go to the carnival and Bregana persuades Gino to go `back home' to live and work with them again, as he is handy to have around.
Too weak-willed to resist, knowing this will reunite he and Giovanna, Gino agrees and goes back to stay with the couple. After a while he gives in to Gina's demands to get rid of her husband. Once the evil deed is done, Giovanna becomes more cold-blooded than ever, seeming to have very little conscience, while guilt and shame eat away at Gino for hurting a man who never did him any harm. As much as he wants to leave her he does again briefly, they are now inextricably linked, and must face the consequences.
I liked the way the Spagnolo character came back into Gino's life to act as a judge of his misdeeds that was very good, and interesting, adding another dimension to the story.
While the '46 U.S. version with Lana Turner and John Garfield gets a bit lost in a quagmire of peripheral characters, especially the cops and the lawyers, Ossessione does well to concentrate much more on the psychological effects of the crime on the lovers alone. This gives the final outcome even more potency, and makes a powerful statement reinforcing the helplessness inherent in the society in which the characters must live.
A minor quibble: The amount of time (hardly any) that elapses before undying love is pronounced by the lovers, how quickly they kill the husband (there is no botched first attempt as in the U.S. version); Gino's very quick-to-escalate relationship with the dancer/hooker they quickly profess their love as well, and she is willing to risk a great deal for a man she just met! all rather unrealistic, isn't it? I found this time-frame problem quite distracting it made me think that I must have missed something somewhere. Otherwise, well worth the viewer's time. The acting and direction were both uniformly good throughout. Recommended.
13 out of 14 people found the following review useful:
Ossessione digital restoration, 7 October 2006
Author: Kris Kolodziejski from Denmark
Ossessione is in very bad state but is now undergoing a full restoration at Digital Film Lab in Copenhagen. The material used is a "Master positive" 2nd generation originally from the print Visconti managed to hide from the fascists. It has been scanned on the Spirit 4K (as 2K RGB data) then processed using DaVinci Revival restoration software. After this the rest is manual labor and we do not anticipate finishing before early spring. Sometime next year it should be available on DVD and hopefully also released on HD DVD. This film is beautiful and we hope the restoration effort will be enjoyed by many generations to come.
22 out of 32 people found the following review useful:
A Masterpiece: The Original Story of `The Postman Rings Twice', 27 December 2003
Author: Claudio Carvalho from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Gino Costa (Massimo Girotti) is a young and handsome drifter who arrives in a road bar. He meets the young, beautiful and unsatisfied wife Giovanna Bragana (Clara Calamai) and her old and fat husband Giuseppe Bragana (Juan de Landa), owners of the bar. He trades his mechanical skills by some food and lodging, and has an affair with Giovanna. They both decide to kill Giuseppe, forging a car accident. The relationship of them become affect by the feeling of guilty and the investigation of the police. This masterpiece ends in a tragic way. The noir and neo-realistic movie of Luchino Visconti is outstanding. This is the first time that I watch this version of `The Postman Always Rings Twice'. I loved the 1946 version with Lana Turner, and the 1981 version, where Jack Nicholson and Jessica Lange have one of the hottest sex scene in the history of the cinema, but this one is certainly the best. My vote is ten.
10 out of 11 people found the following review useful:
stark, gritty peek at life in italy during wartime., 27 June 2002
Author: william c. young III (email@example.com) from brownsville, texas
fascinating look at fascist italy and the people who carved out a life under mussolini. street scenes and lifestyle glimpses alone are worth watching. combine this with a masterful plot and premier acting and you get a film that you will want to watch again . .. and maybe again.
|Page 1 of 4:||   |
|Plot summary||Ratings||External reviews|
|Plot keywords||Main details||Your user reviews|
|Your vote history|