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Now I understand why Visconti regards this classic as his personal
Overwhelmingly Terrific! The acting, design, music, cinematography, and especially direction are superb.
This epic, grand, personal, and highly dramatic tale of five brothers and their mother who move from Southern Italy to Milan to change their station in life is filled with wonderful vignettes and powerful set pieces.
The fight between two of the brothers in the slums of the city is one of the most harrowing and touching scenes ever in cinema history. This is the kind of fight which actually means something. When they hit each other you feel it down to the core of your being, not just watching mindless brutality like you would in some brainless movie.
The cast is uniformly good with standouts from Katina Paxinou as the long suffering mother, Annie Girardot as the doomed prostitute who is the catalyst of the story, and especially Alain Delon who is blessed with a cinematic beauty which adds poetry to everyone of his close-ups. The one actor who really surprised me was Renato Salvatori as the violent brother Simone. His gradual and completely believable change from sweet young man to violent brute is incredible to watch.
This film satisfies every true movie lovers dream. To visit a place you don't know, with characters who fascinate you, and are framed in a true CINEMATIC style, that succeeds on every level.
GO SEE THIS MOVIE!! I will add my voice to those who cry out for the DVD release of this true classic.
Although the French Nouvelle Vague gets all the press, it is the
Italian neorealist movement that has had the greatest impact on
American cinema. Let's face it, aside from some of Godard's editing
tricks in Breathless, what kind of influence did the Nouvelle Vague
really have? Godard. Truffaut. Chabrol. Rohmer. Rivette. Resnais.
Decent filmmakers all, but, when one looks closely, more interesting
for their influences than for their influence. But the Italians, oh,
the Italians. Bava. Fellini. Rossellini. De Sica. Bertolucci. Visconti.
I think it is safe to say that, without the films of these incredible
innovators, American movies would have rotted away into nothing. It was
the post WWII Italian neorealist movement, and its heady brew of
Marxism and melodrama, that inflamed the imaginations of filmmakers
like Francis Ford Coppola and Martin Scorsese, and led them, especially
in Coppola's case, to use many of the same personnel on their own
productions. Vittorio Storaro. Giuseppe Rotunno. Nino Rota. Ferdinando
Scarfiotti. Danilo Donati. Where would the great American films of the
seventies be without the contributions of these astoundingly talented
artists and technicians?
Rocco and His Brothers is a jaw-dropping work, so ferociously brilliant that it takes your breath away. As a Visconti fan, I have been waiting to watch it for years. Yet, despite my eagerness, the DVD sat on top of the television for two weeks before I finally popped it in. Curiously, I had the same reaction to The Leopard, another Visconti masterwork, a couple of years ago. As I get older, I find it harder and harder to abandon myself to a work of art. Great works of art force one to give oneself over to them completely, suspend judgment, accept them unconditionally. When one is young and unformed, the process is easy; as one gets older, and the carapace of personality hardens, the process becomes more difficult. There is a good reason for this; the effort is often not worth while; one comes out of the experience diminished, drained, let down.
Rocco and His Brothers holds no such disappointment. It is a vast, capacious work, complex, generous, passionate, and intensely moving. The talent on display here defies analysis: Alain Delon is luminous as the saintly Rocco; Katina Paxinou achieves Shakespearean grandeur as the Parondi family matriarch; Giuseppe Rotunno's cinematography is starkly beautiful; and Nino Rota's music is heartbreaking. I do not want to give too much of this film away, but I must point out that, contrary to what some reviews on this site have to say, this film is not just about the corruption that big city life brings to a peasant family. Rocco may be a saint, but his all-forgiving nature drives much of the tragedy that unfolds. It is Ciro, the compassionate but just brother, and successful entrant into Milan's urban proletariat, who will lead the family into an uncertain but perhaps hopeful future.
Let me just finish by pointing out how wonderful it is to see a movie that ends with a meaningful and distinctive final shot. You don't see much of that anymore.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This primo example of Italian neo-realism directed by Luchino Visconti is one of those films that people either love or hate, there really is no in between when it comes to this film. I think it magnificent, and I've seen it 3 or 4 times. The last viewing was last fall at the Film Forum in New York City, and once again I was knocked out by it. The plot is simple, a poor family headed by the mother moves to the big city to try to make a better life for her and her sons. Katina Paxinou plays the mama mia in a larger than life performance that at times knocks you out of your seat. The film is divided into sections with each one devoted to one of the brothers, but the thrust (and heart) of the narrative concerns two of the brothers, Rocco played by a never better nor more beautiful Alain Delon & his intense love-hate relationship with his brother played by Renato Salvatori who also gives a superb performance. The other great performance in the film is from Annie Girardot as a prostitute with a semi-heart of gold. Girardot first has a vivid & difficult relationship with Salvatori who is a brutal & simple prize fighter, but then she drops him, when she falls in love with Delon. Needless to say trouble and high operatic drama follows that finally ends in tragedy that never fails to leave me in tears. Both soapy & operatic, this is one of the great films of the 60's & one of Visconti's best. Also look for a young Claudia Cardinale in an early film role.
This is a great Italian film directed by Visconti, which somehow escaped me until tonite 2/22/02.. I had heard about it and the praise it received at that time, (1960) but just never got to see it. I was seeing Foreign films at that time, I remember seeing La Dolce Vita, The Virgin Spring, and Hiroshima Mon Amour at our local foreign movie theatre in Essex County , The Ormont in East Orange.. long gone.. but missed this. Well, thanks to TCM, Ive had another sleepless night & have just seen a truly great Italian movie/ or great movie, period!!..What a saga ! what passion, what emotion !! The story of a southern Italian peasant family's journey and relocation to the big city... is just superb film making..The deterioration of the brothers relationship is almost pure GreeK Tragedy (there is a glimmer of hope with the youngest brother)...superbly acted especially by Renato Salvatori, as Simon, the most troubled of all the fratelli, and young, beautiful, Alain Delon as the younger brother Rocco who desperately tries to save his brother from destruction; and Annie Giradot, as Nadia the prostitute who adds to this families woes is just sensational in a role that should have won her all kinds of trophies. It was no mistake that Visconti used Greek Oscar winning actress, Katina Paxinou, in the role of an Italian mother( instead of say, Anna Magnani ?), her performance brings to mind all the heroines of Sophocles & Aesculus... yes tragedy and emotion of epic proportions..played to the nth degree... beautiful cast excellently directed... by Viscont1... thanks to TCM Im catching up on his great movies "SENSO" a few months back and now "Rocco" this is a treat.. also in cast a very young beautiful Claudia Cardinale as Ginetta.. This is film making at its best..dont miss it.. to be seen again and again..
I was lucky enough to catch this extraordinary film late last night on a cable channel. It's about a widow from southern Italy who moves to Milan with her five sons. Gradually they become embroiled in the big city, some becoming corrupted by its ways, others profiting. Rocco, played by Alain Delon, is an innocent, looking at his brothers and life in general with saintly patience. When his beneficent attitude comes under pressure, he doesn't give in to self-interest, choosing to sacrifice his own happiness, and that of the woman he loves, for his family. Family is really what 'Rocco and his Brothers' is all about. I've never got into Visconti, but seeing this film has made me want to see more of his work. Also, this move has one of the most powerful images I've ever seen, as the maddened Simone advances towards the doomed prostitute Nadia. It's an image so remarkable I actually shouted aloud when I saw it. I urge you to see this film. It's a remarkable, passionate, beautifully photographed drama that will stay with you for a long time.
The Italian master Luchino Visconti's 1960 (melo)drama "Rocco e i Suoi
Fratelli" is the best film I've seen in a long, long time, and it deserves
to be up there among European cinema's finest achievements, along with
Visconti's other masterpiece, "Il Gattopardo" (1963).
Aristocrat turned communist, Visconti draws a beautiful, but horrible picture of Milan in the 1960s, when the "immigration" from the South was at its peek, and the social problems in Northern Italy exploded. The differences between north and south in Italy are enormous, and were perhaps even greater back when Visconti and his scriptwriting crew decided to make a contemporary film about a family moving northwards. Visconti wanted to make a film about a mother and her five sons, like the five fingers on her hand, like the mother herself exclaimes at the end of the film. This is not an agitational film, though, just a superbly acted study of a society in disorder and a portrait of a family trying to make ends meet in a harsh world they do not know. Like another Italian director, Pier Paolo Pasolini, noted, the South of Italy stayed an undeveloped land even after the North became industrialized, and that didn't happen before after WWII. This is the grim truth, and the person who thought this film was depressing should just stay on his or her pills and turn his or her eyes towards the real world, because the world IS a depressing place. You just cannot blame directors with a social conscience for trying to tell a story which lies close to their hearts, then you should stay away from film criticism and criticize the world instead. I am so tired of that.
Renato Salvatori makes a performance of a lifetime as the troubled brother Simone, while Alain Delon stays calm and controlled as Rocco, the protagonist, if there is one. Boxing is used as a metaphor for the anger the young men feel, but when Simone fails, Rocco succeeds by fueling his fighting with the contempt for his brother's actions. The two brothers are torn between the beautiful prostitute Nadia, whom they both love passionately, but she only loves Rocco- and that almost breaks the family. The other brothers are more supporting characters, and even though the film is long it should have been even longer- the second youngest brother, Ciro, is an interesting and morally strong character that I would have loved to see developed further. The pride, ignorance, hatred, loyalty and love of these people are held together by a perfect script by Visconti and his four collaborators, and cinema's finest cinematographer, Guiseppe Rotunno, moves his camera magnificently through the streets, houses, and locales of a growing, but morally decaying Milan.
This is cinematic perfection.
Visconti at his peak. We are in the fifties, when Italian economy experiences a post-war boom. A Sicilian family arrives to Milan running from south's poverty. They dream with a new life at the industrial pole of the north. But Milan is not precisely a land of opportunities. Exploitation and xenophobia is the common destiny for those who came from south of the country. This film is a perfect sequel to "La Terra Tembla", one of the earliest Visconti's looks on Marxism. The hopes and lives of this five brother's family sink onto a pit at the same time as they destroy themselves. "Rocco and ..." is intensely played by the entire cast, including a young and delicate Alain Delon as the idealistic Rocco, an exquisite Annie Girardot as a prostitute trying to survive to her own hell and a terrific Renato Salvatori. But is the figure of the peasant mother, played superbly by Katina Paxinou, the most remarkable piece of this operatic story. Claudia Cardinale made some kind of Italian debut in this film. Nino Rota composes his most pitiful score and the black and white photography is stunning. The scene at the rooftop of Milan's Duomo is one of my all-time favorites. The American version is usually cut so try to find the original or some DVD restoration. A must see film.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I can't imagine Visconti surpassing this 1960 175-minute masterpiece (censored when shown in USA originally, now available complete on DVD). The triple threat Visconti (producer, co-screenwriter, director) pours all his passion in this epic tale of widowed Katina Paxinou leaving her poverty filled life in Southern Italy with family in tow for the big city life of Milan, hoping to better the life of her five sons, Rocco (Alan Delon), Simone (Renato Salvatori), Ciro (Max Cartier), Moroni (RogerHanin) and her youngest boy of 7. They find dwelling in the basement of a housing complex and better themselves eventually when Simone and, later, Rocco enter the world of boxing. Both become involved with a former prostitute definitively played by Annie Giradot. Simone turns brutish and attacks Rocco savagely. Rocco is a Christ like figure who forgives all and tries his best to save the family, but tragedy is in store when Simone kills Giradot in an unforgettable waterside scene. Also in the cast are a very young Claudia Cardinale and Suzy Delair. Paolo Stoppa is brilliant as the boxing impresario. Score by Nina Rota (some of which is used later in Fellini films) and photography by Giuseppe Rotunno are perfection
State-of-the-art directing, acting (Katina Paxinou, Alain Delon, Annie Girardot, Renato Salvatore), photography, superb musical score. A film to bring any sensitive and open mind to tears near the end. The destruction of a family order, jealousy, betrayal between brothers and the saintliness of Rocco, always ready to forgive, thinking more about his family than himself. All this in black and white! I hope film directors will never give away this format. By the way, I would like to know whether the plaque in Rosaria's new apartment (when Rocco's back from the army) reads "Pafundi" instead of "Parondi" on purpose (why?) or was it a flaw? I also would like to know which language do some characters spoke on stage(I think it's french), namely Rocco and Ginetta. I am watching a Russian edition whose dubbing is disastrous. Thanks to the ease of DVD players I could choose the Italian soundtrack and disable subtitles...
I feel that this is just as much about his brothers as it is about Rocco. I
don't even think Rocco is the key figure in the story. The film is
constructed of five chapters in each of which the emphasis is more or less
on one of the five brothers (Vincenzo Parondi, Simone, Rocco, Ciro, Luca).
The chapter about the youngest brother contains remarks about about their
attitude towards life and the philosophy for the future. But it never gets
heavy-handed because everything is so natural and the whole is very
accessible. The story is about the struggle of a family from the south of
Italy that moves to the city (in the first minute) and struggles with
jealousy, wrath, regrets, confusion and citylife. But the most important
element throughout the film are the bonds between the members of the family,
which you guessed from the title ofcourse.
Cinematographer Giuseppe Rotunno (Amarcord, Regarding Henry, Il Gattopardo -> all three not comparable BTW) and the other makers of this film where not ambitious or pretentious while making this masterpiece: that would really have been besides the point they were making and unnecessary too, because the story and the pace don't need it and the cast is brilliant.
Some more references. The score was done by Nino Rota (Godfather, Amarcord, Il Gattopardo): the tune that helped making Godfather famous was already more or less completed here in 'Rocco'. The film might have been inspired by Ladri di biciclette (1948) and may in turn have been the inspiration for Raging Bull (1980), the Outsiders (Coppola, 1983) and even the Godfather, although 'Rocco' has nothing to do with neither mafia nor with America. In 1963 Delon, Cardinale (who has a very small role in 'Rocco') and Visconti would work together on Il Gattopardo. But 'Rocco' has to be Visconti's greatest! (besides Morte a Venezia, which is a TOTALLY different film BTW). Also see Hotel New Hampshire (1984).
10 points out of 10 :-)
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