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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is the one to chose, if you can only watch one of the ten mini television series started from the public recognition of La Piovra outstanding quality. The first two series are so closely woven together, that you'd better watch them together. This can stand on its own, as the anti hero Corrado Cattani takes refuge from the mafia and the generally corrupt magistracy in a Franciscan monastery, only to be dragged into action, and love, again by a DEA agent. This seven part mini has a few good moments of action and gory death, like its predecessors, but its the slow rhythm of the story, the clever dialogue, what you'll learn about import-export trade, international banking, and reasons to be alive and successful - up to a point - that will get you forever. Some twenty years after seeing this on TV, I set two nights in a row reviving the images, and the dialogues, that had caught me unawares the first time, when I couldn't even tape it on VHS. I regret that (I believe) all DVD editions are so poor, with nothing but the nationally subtitled television screenings of the series, but at least you get pretty decent colour and sound - better than I had on my TV set then. Women do not play a big part in a story that is most about the mafia and the banks, and Italian machismo, but I beg you pay attention to every supporting actress in the minute they're given; they are all meaningful. The beautiful Maria Laforet and Giuliana De Sio are difficult to forget, and help explain why Italian men were killing each other so much... Even if you'll not be surprised with the criminal key to the film, I assure you'll be with its romantic conclusion. So, it's a nice series to watch in romantic company, too!
I first saw some of La Piovra when I lived in Holland. Then I bought
the full series. You need a all region player. La Piovra consists of 4
series, each individually containing between 4 and around 12 parts. The
subtitling is a good thing, you hear the language and the emotion
played well by all the characters rather then have it distorted by
voice over actors. The first two series are very much linked to each
other and you must see both. Because the tragedies that play in the
main character's life, you will get drawn in, and will want to see all
The serious start in Sicily. Corrado Cattani (played by Michaele Placido) accepts a position as chief of police, after his predecessor is found murdered in his car. He starts an investigation after the murder, and while doing so, gets involved in the local scene. As part of his investigations, he gets involved with a local girl, the daughter of a countess who was found dead in her home. Put into the mix a local Mafia criminal who is crazy for the daughter of the countess, a lawyer who as part of the Mafia is never up to anything good and a police chief who works both unconventional and with a tenacity that is unmatched and you are in for a wonderful ride. A classic ride that is not matched by anything made in the last twenty years or so (hill street blues was good, but does not have the elegance and style that comes naturally to the Italians). All parts link up well, but you need to keep focused as there are many things going on at the same time.
If you like the Italian language, the way of life (not necessarily that of the Mafia influence, the country side and the culture, this is a treat.
The first season of La Piovra was fairly restrained in sets and
locations as if it was not known if the series would be renewed;
therefore, it took place mostly indoors in utilitarian offices and
modest homes, relying on a good script and plot.
Season two followed the plot but with better locations, showing lovely hilltop villas in Umbria, small Silician coastal towns, the occasional northern Italian cities, and several Swiss locations. Once again, the plot was engrossing and required the viewer to pay attention as Inspector Corrado followed the money trail to uncover a conspiracy of important people and corrupt officials in banking, government, the military and industry conspiring with the Mafia to control every aspect of Italian life. Corrado's quest has cost him his family and he is out for vengeance.
By the time we reach Season 3, which continues with the same characters left alive after the first two seasons, but with most of the loose ends of the first two seasons tied off, the series really kicks into gear with some very high production values. Money is obviously being spent by now. Almost all the first episode takes place in the large northern city of Milan with some superb street scenes, a car chase and a stand off at the railway terminal. there is also a train journey to Switzerland. As one who has never visited Italy and has impressions of a succession of small medieaval towns with Roman ruins basking in the sun, seeing a large modern city with a cold winter climate was very enlightening. Once again, the conspiracy deepens and spreads further and further beyond Italy. When you have a series on DVD and put on the first disc in the evening and don't stop until the cock crows next morning, you know you have hit a winner.
for this part, the key remains Remo Girone character. and his war against Cattani. the obscure world of Octopus. the courage of hero as form of survive. and the love story as escape from himself. it is more than a story but lesson about basic values. about masks, victims and force of law. about ideals as part of a way in which justice is not only duty but form of self definition for a man far from each wall of his happiness. sure, action scenes and dialogs are cages for many viewers. but soul of series is a kind of parable. because ambiguous, powerful organization can be , in same measure, a symbol of many aspects of danger. so, a realistic fairy tale is essence of this inspired series.
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