The widow Rosaria moves to Milano from Lucania with her 4 sons, one of whom is Rocco. The fifth son, Vincenzo, already lives in Milano. In the beginning, the family has a lot of problems, but everyone manages to find something to do. Simone is boxing, Rocco works in a dry cleaners, and Ciro studies. Simone meets Nadia, a prostitute, and they have a stormy affair. Then Rocco, after finishing his military service, begins a relationship with her. A bitter feud ensues between the two brothers, which will lead as far as murder...Written by
Kornel Osvart <email@example.com>
Annie Girardot's voice was dubbed into Italian by another actress. See more »
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Originally released at 180 minutes in Italy. Local censorship forced director Visconti to cut a few sequences (including scenes from Nadia's rape); the film was subsequently shortened even more for foreign distribution. Director of photography Giuseppe Rotunno has prepared a restored full version, which has been re-released in 1991. See more »
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.
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