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5 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Montand goes fishing with dynamite in blue Italian seas

Author: aw-komon-2 from West Los Angeles
11 August 2001

Interesting, colorful and picturesque communist melodrama with a brilliant performance by Yves Montand as a dynamite fisherman trying to stay one step ahead of the law. Montand even does his own underwater swimming stunts as you can clearly see it's him swimming in the shots. I wouldn't say the photography's spectacular (the way "Bonjour Tristesse" shot on the French Riviera is spectacular) but it's certainly beautiful, though the colors seemed a little faded even in the restored print I saw. A little less overblown music would've been more to my taste, but I enjoyed the film nevertheless for what it was: "Old Man and the Sea" meets the "Bicycle Thief." The little blonde boy in the film is certainly very Bruno-like in his half-pint-acting-grown-up act, loudly gesturing and protecting his beautiful sister's (Federica Ranchi, ooffaaa!--giving Sophia Loren more than a good run for her money) 'honor' and everything! The film also contains the only shot I know of Montand giving 'the Italian arm salute' obscene gesture in front of his kids to the coast guard after he beats them to the punch during a very close-call; try to find someone flipping 'the finger' in an American Film of the period! Impossible. Pontecorvo was keeping it real way, way back before "Battle of Algiers" and "Burn!".

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5 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

To be released on DVD soon!

8/10
Author: Kenji
2 March 2002

An extraordinarily vibrant and engaging Neo-Realist film in truly magnificent color (Ferraniacolor!). Pontecorvo's first feature is an emotionally powerful film, driven by his usual, but earnest political and sociological motivations. Yves Montand's fisherman Squarciù is an obstinate and sometimes inflexible soul, yet the passion of his convictions and his love and concerns for his family, redeem him in the end.

LA GRANDE STRADA AZZURRA - THE WIDE BLUE ROAD, is soon to be released on DVD by Milestone Films and Video, thanks especially to Jonathan Demme and Dustin Hoffman who absolutely love this film and helped to finance its restoration for theatrical American release.

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4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Relentless, yet beautiful and compassionate

9/10
Author: Oskado from Kingman, Arizona
1 October 2006

A man's relentless drive toward self-destruction is the tenor plot in this film, but the surrounding study of human nature, and of what can be the ultimate values in life fill out the canvas. Squarcio, the hero, has through good fortune escaped detection long enough to establish a comfortable life for his family and loving wife. Other fishermen, who have reason enough to detest him, consistently show him compassion - their basic good natures prevailing. Squarcio, though, like a "Sturm und Drang" character, relentlessly pursues a path his logic - and wife and children - tell him he should abandon. He is offered other choices; he sees other charismatic characters uselessly die - yet his actions are emotionally driven.

At mid-film, the local coast guard commander chooses to retire, to quit service before having to witness the death or imprisonment of his childhood friend. I, the viewer, felt likewise - very much like abandoning the theater before the inevitable. Yet I stayed on, hoping for some early hint of a happy end to come.

But for me, the most memorable moments in this film were certain sea scenes set to challenge the most beautiful and intriguing of any painting of the old Venetian school - sepia sails, emerald seas, white and green (?) hulls, and old fortresses in the background - all looking a bit unreal, like a child's playthings, almost too perfect, too harmonic. Squarcio, of course, wasn't part of such scenes - he was off on his own, individualist but misguided path.

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

To be released on DVD soon!

8/10
Author: Kenji
2 March 2002

An extraordinarily vibrant and engaging Neo-Realist film in truly magnificent color (Ferraniacolor!). Pontecorvo's first feature is an emotionally powerful film, driven by his usual, but earnest political and sociological motivations. Yves Montand's fisherman Squarciù is an obstinate and sometimes inflexible soul, yet the passion of his convictions and his love and concerns for his family, redeem him in the end.

LA GRANDE STRADA AZZURRA - THE WIDE BLUE ROAD, is soon to be released on DVD by Milestone Films and Video, thanks especially to Jonathan Demme and Dustin Hoffman who absolutely love this film and helped to finance its restoration for theatrical American release.

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3 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Like a prettier and more well-made version of La Terra Trema

7/10
Author: planktonrules from Bradenton, Florida
1 October 2006

This film is highly reminiscent of another film, LA TERRA TREMA. Both might be considered Italian Neo-realist films, though LA GRAND STRADA AZZURA does feature a big-name actor in the lead (Yves Montand) and a big budget--somethings that a Neo-realist film cannot have to be technically this type of film. However, I am apparently one of the few reviewers on IMDb that really disliked LA TERRA TREMA--because the acting was so incredibly amateurish as well as the lousy camera-work. Instead, LA GRAND STRADA is beautifully filmed in color and Montand is the centerpiece around which all the non-professional actors are anchored.

The film itself is also a little more exciting because it deals not just with a family of fishermen like the other film, but a family that illegally uses homemade dynamite to fish!! And the negative impact on the fishing industry and the other fishermen makes for some great tension. While this certainly isn't a great film, it's a very, very good one and has an excellent ending to wrap it all together.

By the way, do not get the idea that I dislike Neo-realist films and prefer big-name actors and budgets. No, I actually love movies such as UMBERTO D, MIRACLE IN MILAN and THE CHILDREN ARE WATCHING US (all by Vittorio De Sica)--it's just that there are also a couple truly awful and amateurishly made Neo-realist films as well that I really hate--and apart from STOMBOLI, LA TERRA TREMA is probably the most boring and unwatchable Neo-realist film I have seen. You are MUCH better off just watching this film--it's very similar but interesting--and avoid LA TERRA TREMA unless you are a masochist and you actually like very slow and miserable films.

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