Sentenced to life imprisonment for illegal activities, Italian International member Giulio Manieri holds on to his political ideals while struggling against madness in the loneliness of his...
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Sentenced to life imprisonment for illegal activities, Italian International member Giulio Manieri holds on to his political ideals while struggling against madness in the loneliness of his prison cell. Written by
Bernard Dionne <firstname.lastname@example.org>
One of the Taviani brothers' less widespread works, a free adaptation of Lev Tolstoy's tale «Divine and Human», this film runs rather smoothly for 90 minutes, considering the leading character's frequent spells of verbose rhetoric, a 19th century Italian anarchist who fancies a new social order with a handful of followers, and the difficult section that describes his stay in prison during ten years in a solitary cell. The project mostly lies on the shoulders of actor Giulio Brogi, who gives a consistent portrait as Giulio Manieri, an idealist almost gone crazy, a man raised in a rich milieu who turned his back to the "good life", became an ice-cream vendor and fought with and for the peasants of his region, in line with many international struggles for justice and reforms that marked the second half of the 19th century. But the Tavianis also know how to handle their stories and keep us interested, especially in the already mentioned enclosed sequence in prison through sounds and visual metaphors. Their "mise-en-scène" is economical, they avoid visual flourishes, but I could not help noticing the grace of their soft camera movements, or the way they transmitted the sense of sudden, fleeting freedom when Manieri leaves his cell and begins the travel to a new prison. The camera, installed on a boat, suddenly leaves the action behind and makes a long and beautiful travelling of open space, all sky and sea. During this last act of the film, Manieri dismayingly learns from young revolutionaries how the world changed and his actions were forgotten, to the point of considering his generation guilty that the emergence of the labor movement was delayed by ten years. In these days of forgotten ideals and desecrated human rights, when political patriarchs die and dubious leaders take power, this is a most timely motion picture.
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