Set in Italy, the film follows the lives and interactions of two boys/men, one born a bastard of peasant stock (Depardieu), the other born to a land owner (de Niro). The drama spans from 1900 to about 1945, and focuses mainly on the rise of Fascism and the peasants' eventual reaction by supporting Communism, and how these events shape the destinies of the two main characters.Written by
Ed Sutton <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Two years earlier, Robert De Niro won an Oscar for playing Vito Corleone, a role that had already won as Oscar for Marlon Brando two years before that. Gérard Depardieu would later be nominated for a Best Actor Oscar, and win a Best Actor award at the Cannes Film Festival, for his performance in Cyrano de Bergerac (1990), a role that had already won an Oscar, forty years earlier, for José Ferrer. See more »
In the movie, Olmo is depicted as coming back from World War One, while Alfredo, even though conscripted, manages to stay at home thanks to his father's connections. In reality, people born in 1901 (like Olmo and Alfredo) were never conscripted to fight in the war, as they were only 17 when it ended in November 1918. The last ones to be conscripted in Italy where those born in 1899. See more »
[Had just accused Olmo of hiding his wife]
I'm sorry, I don't know what's the matter with me. I don't know, I'm not feeling well, I think I have a heart condition.
[Grabs his hand]
Feel my heart.
[Knocks him away]
What heart? You're just sick in the head!
Maybe you're right. I don't know, I'm going crazy. Ada's gone and I can't find her.
And you come looking for her in my bed?
See more »
Among a dozen or so scenes that were extended in "versione integrale", there are a number of new scenes featuring:
Longer shot of the boy dying in the very beginning
Berlinghieri digging the wine out of the cellar before serving it to the peasants
After Elma tells everyone of Berlinghieri's suicide, the crowd rejoices and dances
The first scene with Attila is extended into a speech
Graphic scenes of the mutilation of pigs is extended
After Regina taunts Ada with keys to the wine, Ada pours wine over Regina's head
A beautiful European achievement with Hollywood stars.
The cast list alone is fabulous:Burt Lancaster, Sterling Hayden, Robert De Niro, Donald Sutherland, Gerard Depardieu, the best of Italian artists, the incandescent Dominque Sanda, at her prime. The production team: Bertolucci as director, the DOP is Storaro, the music by Ennio Morricone. How much would such a production cost today? $100 million? $200 million? How could you fail with such a line up? Well the film was long, and there were several versions around. It played at art houses in two parts. It was a co-production, (always an ominous sign) still there isn't a DVD available. (Although I saw a laser disc version in Jakarta some 7 years ago which I taped). Is the film beautiful? Yes. Does it sound wonderful? Yes. Does it deal with large important themes across generations? Yes. So how come it doesn't knock everybody's socks off? It should, that much I believe. Its themes of socialism/communism versus fascism across 50 years or so of Italian history don't sit well with American audiences. The two political systems are personified by two sons of the estate, one rich, one poor.Such a subtle (Or not if you are from North Zanesville)device is difficult to reconcile if you are used to a hamburger menu. Many audiences want a such a simple menu- a guy falls in love, gets married, the mob kill her, he takes revenge and kills the mob. Life is a hamburger. But we in Europe know that Life is not like that, it comes with grey areas, imperfections, flaws,nuances.
So the first disagreement is about politics. The second is the length of the movie; what actually are you watching, and where can you get the real longest possible version? That again nobody seems to know. The third is the lack of a DVD. That would make money and re-establish the film as a classic among the video stores to all the believers and make a new audience fall in love with this flawed masterpiece. Flawed, but still a masterpiece. So many people have not heard about it, so they don't know any better. There are some staggeringly beautiful shots that have lingered in my mind for 28 years- pure Storaro, many shot in golden hour- the boy with frogs in his hat, the countryside estate,the hunchback jester moaning about the death of Verdi,all accompanied by a typical Morricone oboe-driven melody with great intelligence and pride. Bravissimo!
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