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Dillinger is Dead (Dillinger e Morto) is a Marco Ferreri film. I just
saw the film in a very good print at the Museum of Modern Art in New
York, and this is a film that benefits from being seen in a cinema
where there are less distractions, and a film of this pace and
sensibility has a better chance of seizing you and bringing you into
its unique and power logic.
The film, in my estimation, is a meditation on alienation in a period of increasing mass media saturation. The film artfully weaves in a multitude of media moments, including television, home movies, radio, records, newsreels, and newspapers. At a certain point in watching the film, I deeply appreciated how Ferreri forces us to consider not only his character's relationship to media, but our own relationship to media. In his most expressive audio-visual moments, this film moves away from any standard narrative formula into a subjective exploration of the power of cinema and its affect on our psyche and our actions. At those moments, the film is visually mesmerizing, sonically engaging and psychologically intimate. One scene of a projected home movie on the wall of his living room is one of the best sequences of its sort that I have ever seen.
This film opens with Glauco (Michel Piccoli) at his job, testing gas masks. The conversation between Glauco and one of his co-workers that opens the film highlights the theme of alienation, and the film right from the beginning establishes a tone that engages the fate of man in a society of the spectacle.
The film then takes place over one night in the life of Glauco. We watch as he comes home and spurns a dinner that is waiting for him. He goes upstairs to his bedroom, where he has a brief, though telling, encounter with his wife, played by Anita Pallenberg. The bedroom scene begins to establish the basic strategy of Ferreri's film. There is very little dialog between Glauco and his wife (In fact, there is very little dialog in the film at all, it verges on being an almost non-dialog driven film). Instead, we, in the audience, bare witness to their interaction, and our feelings of what we are seeing are impacted by source music emanating from a radio that Glauco's wife is listening to (Most, thought not all, of the music used in the film is produced by known sources seen in the film). The music in the scene is mostly contemporary Italian pop music and American pop music. The songs lend an interesting narrative counterpoint to this scene (and is true in other scenes as well), as the music is usually expressive of the unspoken feelings and emotions between Glauco and his wife. When Glauco goes back downstairs, he begins to prepare his own meal, which actually turns out to be quite a production. When Glauco goes searching for a particular spice, he accidentally knocks down a stack of old magazines in the spice closet, and a mysterious package, wrapped in newspaper, spills onto the floor. In one of Ferreri's most deft storytelling touches, the content of that package and Glauco's reaction to it, becomes a structuring element for this film. But it is clear that Ferreri's passion here is not some genre formula film, rather the film is an essayistic exploration of alienation, told through a seemingly simple night in the life of Glauco.
The performances in this film are uniformly excellent, beginning with Piccoli's lead performance that carries the film. Pallenberg isn't given much screen time, but she does a good job in a limited part. But Glauco's maid, played by Annie Girardot, has a couple of great scenes that add a juicy spark to this tale.
In fact, while the film does move in its own way towards a conclusion, I found a short moment when Glauco stops in front of a poster celebrating Italian Futurists to be very telling of Ferreri's intentions. The Futurists were obsessed with speed, and modernity, and cinema, and their manifestos would hold much appeal for a character such as Glauco. But it is clear in Dillinger is Dead how much has changed since the 1930s when modernity seemed to hold unchecked promises. By the end of the 1960s, that type of Utopian celebration of modernity was no longer as easy to summon. The society of the spectacle was beginning to encroach on all aspects of everyday life, and in a character like Glauco, in the depths of his alienation, we see that the line between fantasy and reality in our culture was already well on its way to eroding by the end of the 1960s.
An excellent movie, experimental in its unusual construction of an apparently very simple plot, edited in a really original and clever way, till its paradoxal and genial end. Not a movie for everybody's tastes, apparently not much happens in it, except a couple of decisions made by main character Michel Piccoli... but if you like what they call the European cinema (not Hollywood money-machine stupid blockbusters) you shall not miss this one! A five stars rating!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Coming home, while his wife sleeps, an engineer-designer prepares a rich dinner. He finds an old gun, lubricates it with oliva oil, casts films with a projector, slips in his maid bed, eliminates his wife shooting her with the gun, and finally he embarks on a sailing ship as a cook. Probably the best Ferreri's movie. In the appearances of an exercise of experimental style (for three quarters of its duration M. Piccoli is alone in front of the camera) it is a nocturne happening about the neurosis and the horror of the daily life. Abstract and, at the same time, very concrete. The abstraction is picked in the same heart of the daily life, permeates every action, coves, is incorporated in the structure of the character. Must see!
with the "Grande abbuffata" title this is the best ferreri movie. Incredible tour de force real time movie is a study in alienation like no other one in cinema. Piccoli display a portfolio of frustrate-tipe tics with excellent performance. the same for annie girardot, the waitress in love with the Italian singer dino. Ferreri use no dialogues, the figure of dillinger as a mythical phantom over the alienated life of the protagonist. The final is incredibly surreal but all the film is terribly realistic and punctual, in line with the analysis of the contemporary man in the west society. I think that in today cinema this movie is something of irripetible
Ferreri is one of the most important filmmakers, of the greatful decade like 60 in italy. Like Fellini or Pasolini, the director turn the movie in a dreamly journey to the fears and fantasies of the audience. The initial trip, when Piccoli drive a car, and the transformation of guns in art objects are very disquieting. An subversive idea. But, the most amazing is the influence of an old newspaper (the title is: Dillinger is dead)in the attitude of the protagonist. Phoenomenon similar to Lynch's inexplicable possessions. The first step for being seduced by Ferreri´s images.
"Dilinger è morto" is an artistic performance,it represents the beginning of Ferreri abstract cinema, in everything personal. The everyone spirit voyeuristic here is more stimulated and the spectator is carried away with the actions of Glauco, the chief character. At the home beginning from his job of industrial designer, he finds only loneliness and boredom; infact his wife stuffes herself sleeping tablet; the maid, in her bedroom, dreams with eyes wide her italian folk singer idol; the dinner is on the table and it is cold maybe like Glauco's mood. But this time he reacts and decides to cook something of good and while is looking for necessary ingredients he finds a gun wrapped up a page of news paper dated 23 july of 1934, and bringing the killing of american gangster Dilinger news. This is the beginning of the end, or rather, of the end of this life. Ferreri is excellent in his cynic narrativity and he is able to make us laughing of the more tragic events.
First i have to say, I didn't like this movie. Too "sixties" for me.
During this years of fear, confusion ans sex liberation there were tons
of experimental movies. This is one of them. So, if you like solid
scripts and action, get way from this film.
This film is an experience like a David Lynch movie, very hypnotic and seducing if you are caught in it.
It's also a sequel - or a reply - to Jean-Luc Godard's "Le Mepris". First, there's Piccoli (sometimes he's dressed the same as in "Le Mepris") and there are many scenes who work as an echo of Godard's movie (the arguing scene, the jump in the sea...) Like a french critic said "Dillinger" is like "Le Mepris" with Brigitte Bardot on the first floor sleeping.
So, not a film as experimental and "destroy" as it seemed at first look. Unusual for sure but worth a look.
A well-off industrial designer, Glauco, comes back home and sees his
wife who allegedly has a headache and rests in bed. She leaves him a
cold dinner, lest Glauco should feel hungry. Nevertheless, Glauco
chooses to prepare the meal on his own. While cooking, he discloses a
gun wrapped in a newspaper which recounts events regarding a famous
mobster Dillinger's demise
Whilst reading this paragraph, one is likely to scratch his head and reassure this is what the movie is genuinely about. This is no mistake Dillinger is Dead is precisely a product of its time. A bold, weird and mesmerizingly original film which has more in common with existentialism and fantasy than Dillinger himself. The concept of merging reality with surrealism and transmuting it into an artistic manifestation is indubitably exquisite. Straightforwardly speaking, the story by Ferreri is an infant of sheer uniqueness and it stimulates one's senses. Despite the fact that the whole motion picture is virtually filmed solely in Glauco's apartment, Ferreri aptly lunges the plot and it consequently never drags or feels rushed. The characters existent in the flick sporadically encounter one another and the action generally revolves around Glauco. Neither does one get to know his past, nor his views on the outer world. Yet, his mental state is absolutely precise and visible inasmuch his soul is diaphanous owing to Ferreri's fantastic mise-en-scène which visualises Glauco's existential ennui by exposing his disparate acts in his home which serve totally nothing. The protagonist seems nearly a phantom creeping through ensuing chambers of his apartment. He desperately endeavours to do something, satisfy himself anyhow, still he is at a loss for options. His behaviour perpetuated on the celluloid consists of most probably his everyday activities. This enchantingly articulates the meaninglessness and pointlessness of his life. What is new in his life is the weapon wrapped in the mysterious newspaper which inscrutably appears in his apartment. Once he finds the gun, he gradually embarks on altering his life and this is the onset of his transformation which leads to the abrupt and outré denouement.
Mario Vulpiani's cinematography captures the infertility of Glauco's actions in an eye-pleasing manner and it's occasionally ravishing and co-operates with the soundtrack by Teo Usuelli duly. The performance by Michel Piccoli is very good, resembling his appearances in Bunuel movies in which he plays analogous roles. His minimalistic attitude is very appropriate and renders the character plausible.
While portraying existential ennui wasn't something ground-breaking and refreshing in 1969, what strikes in case of Dillinger is Dead is Ferreri's atypical execution of the material. Apart from being structurally quite precisely delineated and recounted, it's far from being a film reminiscent of Edward Munch's painting The Scream or Antonioni flicks. What one might behold here is a huge irony, enormous portions of dark humour and hilarious wickedness. Given that Ferreri was a leftist, it may be analysed as criticism of bourgeois class filled with money, yet incapable of spending it on laudable aims or developing their interests since there are not such for them. Hence, the movie works well as a wicked depiction of pointlessness of human in modern society as well as a political and satirical manifesto. No matter how sophisticatedly one approaches Dillinger is Dead, it is a highly riveting piece of cinematographic extravaganza which ought to appeal to those seeking for something else and lovers of the sixties or art-house cinema, whereas all others should make allowances for the possibility that this slow-paced, somewhat plot less quirk might be emotionally insufficient and boring as well as possibly exasperating for some.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This movie follows Glauco, an insomniac who entertains himself at night with the small things in life, a newspaper, his dinner, or even his reflection. As the viewer follows his actions it is so slow, and so drawn out, that we actually begin to feel his boredom, and find entertainment in the details of the movie, much as he does in his life. If you're more of a fan of Bruckheimer than Visconti you will not find this movie entertaining enough, but paying close attention to the shots, scenes, and characters you will find this movie intensely interesting. It is through the feelings in the film, the closed in, slow and meaningless life he leads at home, we start to understand and appreciate the way he finds joy. (POSSIBLE SPOILER) Until his meandering ways lead him to the ultimate form of immediate entertainment, immediate and indefinite. It is a window into a new life, which we have to believe he will also grow tired of. And it finishes in the same odd fashion, our strange character riding off into the sunset.
Sometimes a day in somebody's life can be interesting to watch, only
the most artistic filmmakers can explore with their own kind of
artistry & entertainment. Even if it makes sense or not from how you
see it. Marco Ferreri did with Dillinger Is Dead (1969). Rather telling
a simple story about a gas mask designer who tries to make dinner as he
ends up discovering what is to be the infamous gangster's gun and plays
with his women & watches Spanish trip footage as to recall (with a
mysterious ending), he shows us something different that we would not
normally watch or understand as it processes - using an oldies
soundtrack throughout the whole film for which has minimal dialogue and
getting playful with his storytelling. Michel Piccoli is the main
highlight of this rare art-house classic because whatever he does
during this film is interesting. It is also one of cinema's lost
treasures since it was never shown in America until 2008 with
surprisingly good acclaim, my reaction to seeing Dillinger Is Dead was
pretty good - resulting to say unlike most films have those topics
being explored during daytime life. One tune I liked listening to in
the film was Patty Pravo's "Qui e là" (meaning "here and then" in
Italian), it really has a catchy feel-good beat besides its lyrics
dealing with freedom and sounds so sixties because this film was made
from the 1960's. Anyway in conclusion, say what you want about the film
but it is a surprising discovery for lovers of art-house cinema and
would enjoy spending an evening like nothing else.
My Rating: 5/5
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