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Durante l'estate (1971)
another ERMANNO OLMI's masterpiece
This strange, atmospheric and brilliant film was unknown to me although it had been screened twice at the French Cinematheque earlier this year. Recently showed on RAI3 in FUORI ORARIO in a scratched copy (!), this film is indisputably another gem of Italian cinema. Its unpredictable story unfolds in a true cinematic way (Ermanno Olmi signs the very energetic cinematography - which looks like a documentary - AND the editing) with unknown actors (the lead Renato Paracchi has the role of his lifetime - what became of him ?...) perfectly cast and directed, with a successful sound and music atmosphere (by Bruno Lauzi). The originality of the film lies in so many small and clever surprises full of mystery (the sound of a plane, a central Skyscraper in Milan, picturesque friends, a comic scene in a public garden during a rose competition, a painful strain cured by a fine caretaker...) among which the meeting of a "princess" will reveal the best out of the main character ("more than a mere count" for whom "the color is the expression of things"). The film never judges but sympathetically follows its dreaming lead character who will have to face his double life...
I recuperanti (1970)
another forgotten gem of Italian cinema
While waiting for the ERMANNO OLMI retrospective at the French Cinematheque in 2015, I am fortunate enough - thanks to the Italian National Broadcast (RAI TRE) and its night FUORI ORARIO program, to be able to watch I RECUPERANTI, another forgotten gem of the Italian cinema. Made for TV in 1970, the film was released ten years later in the French cinemas. We follow Gianni returning home to his northern mountains in Veneto just after the Second World War, and finding a difficult economic situation. Will he have to go to Australia like his brother or will he stay because his girlfriend, who waited for him for so long, asks him to ? After a genuine and unfortunate try to start again the local sawmill (very interesting scenes) as a cooperative, he meets at night an old man who looks like a homeless but who talks about gold in the mountain (which gave the film its French title)... meaning the metal hidden under the ground, the metal from weapons and ammunitions left by the First World War in this part of Italy which is known for having been a very combative and bloody war front between the Italians and the Austrians. Thus starts their search for metal to be sold, with the inevitable risk linked to the explosive... mixing the study of their relationship and the conflict between tradition and modernity, between society and marginality, in the remains of a war context. Thanks to two wonderful non professional actors whose spontaneity is perfectly directed, thanks to a perfect staging of the camera which proves Olmi's knowledge of true documentary filming (dynamic shots and care for the truth of the places), thanks to a very fine script (by Kezich, Rigoni Stern and Olmi), the film is simply a must see.
a film to (re)discover
Powerful melodrama, about Guilt, thanks to the quality of the direction, the beautiful settings (on location in Sardinia), the wonderful actors (Columba Dominguez is unforgettable), the photography and the successful atmosphere, L'EDERA (the ivy) - also known as DELITTO PER AMORE, is really worth watching (thank you FUORI ORARIO on RAI 3 who just aired it a couple of days ago). The visual tension starts from the striking beginning of the film and keeps you very concerned with the cruel dilemma Annesa is experiencing. Augusto GENINA is still generally despised - I think - mainly because of his very questionable link with the Fascist regime during the Second World War. It reminds me of the very low consideration such an interesting director like Edward Dmytryk (see The Carpetbaggers) suffers from the mainstream film-lovers (in France). By naming names during the Witch Hunt in the USA, he became a doomed director which films are often neglected if not rejected... I strongly advise you to re-discover the work of some directors who made mistakes in their personal lives, you may have powerful surprises !
The Memory of Justice (1976)
the memory of justice, Ophüls own favorite
Yesterday evening, Paris cinema Etoile, 23.00 : Two masters of documentary together. Accompanied by his friend of 40-years Frederick Wiseman (who insists on Ophüls' talent for quality interviewing), Marcel Ophüls tells the public that "the memory of justice" is his favorite own film and that it was a public disaster when it came out in 1976 in the USA... The public is still vibrant with the nearly five hours projection (although the version projected is a 10 years old TV recording in DVD - the only existing 16mm copy seems to be in Germany in 29 reels).
Very dense, tense and complex editing makes this film another fascinating film from the director. With wit and elegance, the film passes from one interview to another, focusing mainly on the lessons NUREMBERG trial left us, mainly through the point of vue of Telford Taylor (USA prosecutor at the trial) who as a character and in Marcel Ophüls' own words appears as "Mr Smith goes to Nuremberg" (he served also as historical adviser on the picture). Some Nazi talk to exonerate themselves, Albert Speer being the most controversial and in the same time most charismatic one. After having study NUREMBERG trial itself in the first part through archive images and long interviews of 1975's survivors of the facts, the film draws in the second part a parallel between Nazi atrocities, American exactions in Vietnam (contemporary to the shooting of the film) and French torture in Algeria...
A single review cannot contain all the complexity of the film but I was surprised no review had been written before. If you are lucky enough to see this title aired on TV in your country or projected nearby, please watch it or go to the cinema and bring young people with you in order to learn more together and start a discussion... (If I noted it 7 out of 10, it is because my personal impression of the film was that the second part lasted a bit too long and was a bit confusing in its first hour (third hour of projection))