82 Il grido

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ellipsis7
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Re: 82 Il grido

#26 Post by ellipsis7 » Sun May 24, 2009 4:30 am

david hare wrote: one of the formal "problems" in Le Amiche is the variation of accents among the actresses, relflecting class disjunction, not just Regional differences. By the time MA gets to Il Grido - which is one of his masterpieces imo he went to very great trouble to coach Betsy Blair, for instance, in delivery for her scenes with Cochran.
I'm very fond of LE AMICHE, and so do not find these differences too disturbing, and indeed recognise some are intentional... Clelia for instance is not born into the same level of class as the rest of the women, but has achieved her social status through work and ability - it's a great feminist film... I've been studying the script recently (in English and Italian versions) - a fascinating exercise...

In IL GRIDO, Cochran, being American, is of course dubbed, while Dorian Gray is also dubbed, by one Monica Vitta - the start of her partnership with MA...

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david hare
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Re: 82 Il grido

#27 Post by david hare » Sun May 24, 2009 4:33 am

I understand your point, but I find the occasional clash of deliveries grating rather than intenional, or at least not ideally handled.

In any case calling MA Neo Realist is like calling Busby Berkeley Dreyeresque.

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ellipsis7
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Re: 82 Il grido

#28 Post by ellipsis7 » Sun May 24, 2009 4:53 am

david hare wrote:In any case calling MA Neo Realist is like calling Busby Berkeley Dreyeresque.
Lovely - I'm trying to conjure in my mind the result of Dreyer directing a Berkeley routine - now that would one to cherish... Neo-Realism is indeed totally misunderstood - it wasn't a movement, but rather a label applied rather haphazardly to a loose grouping of Italian filmmakers, post war, post fascism and post son of Il Duce, Vittorio Mussollini, with whom they all had had to work in some way... It wasn't as if they were all following some Neo-Realist 'didactic code of principles' that was set in stone...

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foggy eyes
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Re: 82 Il grido

#29 Post by foggy eyes » Sun May 24, 2009 7:18 am

david hare wrote:Smartguy here. I'm saying the term has a strictly, temporally limited usefulness in referring to a very brief period of post war filmmaking in Italy. One of the greatest scourges of too much "Official" film History is inflating an historical moment into a movement, like Film Noir, which merely suits a very specific ideological adademic agenda, and totally ignores the invdivdual personalities of directors like Rossellini, Visconti, de Sica (for that matter), MA, not to mention an entire country. IN the process the offical canonizing of the Movement only harms the actual reputation of the filmmakers, creating damage which is still being undone today by writers far more skilled and astute than me like Tag Gallagher.

"Movement"-making like this is simple-minded authoritarian short hand for people who cant be bothered engaging directly with auteurs
I pretty much agree with what you're saying, David, but do find it useful to think of neo-realism as not just a historical movement or aesthetic style but an explicitly moral position - one which has its strongest genesis in the writings of Zavattini and others (collected in Overbey's Springtime in Italy, 1978). The problem which writers and scholars have grappled with over the years is that the theory was never really worked out "successfully" by European directors of the period (or later), meaning that there have been countless futile attempts to put square pegs in round holes... To my mind, contemporary filmmakers like Lisandro Alonso or Pedro Costa have emerged as (some of) cinema's greatest neo-realists, purely in the sense that they display the social consciousness and implement the attitudes & techniques which the Italian theorists (rather than the filmmakers of the period) laid out... It's a minefield, though, and I do agree that auteur studies should come before lazy scholarship, of course!

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Tommaso
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Re: 82 Il grido

#30 Post by Tommaso » Sun May 24, 2009 7:21 am

ellipsis7 wrote:Lovely - I'm trying to conjure in my mind the result of Dreyer directing a Berkeley routine - now that would one to cherish
Look no further than the semi-balletic garden scene in Dreyer's "Der Var Engang"...

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ellipsis7
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Re: 82 Il grido

#31 Post by ellipsis7 » Sun May 24, 2009 2:39 pm

Let's remind us what Antonioni said about neo-realism and Zavattini...
For a good part of the critics I am cold, an intellectual. Why cold? Why intellectual? Because I have tried to find a new way of approaching reality, different from... how should I say it?... the pietism of Italian realism? When Zavattini says 'let us say everything about man', of course I agree with him. It all depends on what you mean by man. Do you know the reply of the Irishman who was asked: 'Isn't one man as good as another?' 'Absolutely', he responded, 'and even more so.' I feel I have something of the irony of the Irishman..
This was in response to criticism of I VINTI (1952). What is interesting about Antonioni's work, is that his characters do not exist particularly in a moral framework, and this is what appalled some of the standard bearers of neo realism at the time, as well as the guardians of public morality in France, England & Italy in particular with I VINTI...

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foggy eyes
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Re: 82 Il grido

#32 Post by foggy eyes » Sun May 24, 2009 4:46 pm

Just to clarify, ellipsis, I don't find it very useful at all to consider Antonioni as a neo-realist filmmaker - Zavattini and others were (no matter what they said) concerned with certain types of men rather than "man", and suggested a means of representing "him"/"them" that Antonioni pays little heed to in terms of narration or ideology... It is (to state the obvious) important to consider his work in relation to other films & discourse surrounding them in Italian/European cinema of the period, but not to fall into the trap of slotting him into a prominent "movement" for the sake of historical neatness...

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ellipsis7
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Re: 82 Il grido

#33 Post by ellipsis7 » Sun May 24, 2009 5:12 pm

foggy eyes wrote:It is (to state the obvious) important to consider his work in relation to other films & discourse surrounding them in Italian/European cinema of the period, but not to fall into the trap of slotting him into a prominent "movement" for the sake of historical neatness...
And vice versa - Antonioni also engaged in this discourse at the time, and identified the differences between what he was doing and the work of many of his contemporaries - he did not act in isolation, as you say, but it is important to understand how he reacted to 'neo-realism' (identifying the BICYCLE THIEVES problem, as he put it) and then plough his own furrow.

A weakness, even considering 'neo-realism' in isolation in the thorough and thoughtful way you are doing, is that all the filmmakers under this umbrella and beyond (including even Antonioni - let me tell you about the rewritten review of Jud Suss) had lived and worked under and were complicit with to an extent with the didacts of the Fascist regime of Mussolini... His son Vittorio Mussolini was head and tail of the film industry, ran the magazine 'Cinema' etc...

'Neo-realism' is a clear move to redefine an independent identity for an Italy, that was defeated, occupied, switched sides etc., and really prevailed only when there emerged a rare commonness of purpose (moral maybe) between the Resistance, the Catholic Church, the centre rightist Christian Democrats and the Italian Communist Party (ending in 1948 with Christian Democrats election victory). Neo-R is an obvious turning point in World Cinema, but it is important also to recognise reactions for and against 'Neo-Realism' at the time are from filmmakers and critics already experienced in working under and within a dominant ideology, to a central didacticism etc... While Antonioni wobbled as a critic, I'm suggesting his work as a filmmaker is a radical and original engagement with the filmmaking landscape he found around him in the the late 40's and 50's, and transcended the political change at the time...

Do you know this one, foggyeyes?

L'amorosa menzogna

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ellipsis7
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Re: 82 Il grido

#34 Post by ellipsis7 » Tue May 26, 2009 6:00 am

Just looking at the MoC disc now - really nice package, crisp clear transfer, great subs, just light years ahead of the Kino version, a revelation on DVD... More superb work from MoC!

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bigP
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Re: 82 Il grido

#35 Post by bigP » Tue May 26, 2009 11:10 am

ellipsis7 wrote:Just looking at the MoC disc now - really nice package, crisp clear transfer, great subs, just light years ahead of the Kino version, a revelation on DVD... More superb work from MoC!
Absolutely agreed, the whole package is fantastic and more than I could have hoped for when weighed up against the Kino. Very much looking forward to delving into the booklet; the past essays I have read about Antonioni and his work have been some of the most informative and interesting I have read about any director and i'm sure these will be no different.

Just to note, I was more than a little shocked to read the BBFC warning (which I get a huge chuckle out of every time I see one on the back of an MOC DVD these days, what with the quotation marks and the statement attributed to the BBFC which i'm really appreciating for it's schoolboy mockery that certainly puts across it's point very well) warning that this film "Contains moderate domestic violence, suicide & smoking" - BBFC. Have things really gotten this bad?

Anyway, that aside, thanks again for the hard work, Nick et al.

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foggy eyes
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Re: 82 Il grido

#36 Post by foggy eyes » Tue May 26, 2009 11:25 am

ellipsis7 wrote:Do you know this one, foggyeyes?

L'amorosa menzogna
I do now! Thanks for the link, and for pointing to the socio-political conditions which gave way to (specifically) Italian neo-realism as ideology & (less so) style - I'm convinced that the moral impetus behind it as a concept has transcended its roots/historical context, but will have to come back to this discussion when I've sorted out my thoughts on it!

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Sloper
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Re: 82 Il grido

#37 Post by Sloper » Wed May 27, 2009 6:49 pm

It’s been a while since I’ve waited for something so long and been rewarded so fully – what a brilliant film. Of Antonioni’s ‘50s work I’ve so far only seen Cronaca di un Amore and Le Amiche, both great films in their own right but sort of ‘not quite there’. In one of the interview excerpts printed in the booklet, Antonioni wonders if his early films were unsuccessful because they were not ‘rhetorical or melodramatic’ enough, and goes on to say that he detests melodrama above all things. Indeed, it was the melodrama (I mean all that screaming) that slightly marred Le Amiche; partly, I think, because it felt like Antonioni was uncomfortable trying to put across a (relatively) conventional narrative, just as he was uncomfortable with the narrow definition of ‘reality’ adopted by neorealist films. Generally, I think his weakness (it’s also a strength, at least from Il Grido on) has to do with pacing and rhythm, an inability to imbue a story with that sense of momentum so crucial to most films.

Watching Il Grido, you have the wonderful sense of an artist really blossoming, doing what he wants at his own pace and in his own style. In the best possible way, it’s a very languorous film, as leisurely and melancholy as that beautiful fog that pervades the whole thing and seeps into your brain (reminds me of Pauline Kael’s review of Red Desert: ‘boredom in Ravenna, and it seeps into the viewer’s bones’). When the film is over, everything around you looks too sharp and colourful.

The director’s best qualities are present in full force here, such as the effortless, unobtrusive, completely un-self-conscious use of symbolism, or the subtle variations in tone with moments of humour or narrative interest. I always marvel at the way he grounds his narratives in realistic detail, or plain observation of humanity, just when they threaten to become too alienating and metaphorical. The whole sequence involving the mentally ill folks was brilliantly done, as well as being a lovely homage to/parody of the scene in Bicycle Thieves where Antonio slaps Bruno.

Cochran could so easily have just been morose and boring, but he captures perfectly the sense of a man whose emotional life has been whittled down to a series of inarticulate spasms, or ‘cries’. Even when he beats Irma, his rage is so lethargic that it has no impact – she walks away almost as if nothing has happened. And the women were all superb, all deftly individualised – especially the late Betsy Blair, very touching and real. The child actress, Mirna Girardi, is great, like the creepy kid in Red Desert, uncannily in sync with the mindset of the film.

My only reservation is about Fusco’s score, which is very beautiful but a little maudlin at times. The recurring main theme is just too sentimental for this film; it feels at times a little bit like somebody commenting on the story who doesn’t really understand it. This isn’t a tragic love story about a man who can’t get over being dumped by his one true love. As the first act of the film shows, the problem is as much in Aldo’s inability to give anything to Irma as it is in her having ‘moved on’; a lot like the relationship at the start of L’Eclisse.

The critical appreciations in these booklets are sometimes, frankly, a bit crap, but I found the Arrowsmith essay a very helpful and insightful reading of the film, especially on Antonioni’s habitual use of trees. The interview excerpts were interesting as always; a couple of bits were repeated from the La Notte booklet, but they’re about Il Grido so why not.

I have one gripe about this release, however, and it may seem like a really petty one... There are only five chapter stops, with each chapter lasting somewhere between about twenty and thirty minutes. At best, this demonstrates that the film has five ‘acts’, but it isn’t the job of chapter stops to tell us that, and for anyone wanting to study the structure of a film it’s actually more useful to have a lot of chapter stops, so you can see in more minute detail the order in which the scenes are arranged. (Call me a geek, but I actually like looking over the chapter titles when the film is over. It’s a bit like flicking nostalgically through the book you’ve just read.) And it’s not as if this is a film where scenes go on for ten minutes at a time. Il Grido is a mosaic of lots of little scenes, which end up having a cumulative effect – Gertrud it ain’t.

At worst, the paucity of chapter stops will annoy all those (especially film students and scholars, for whom this release must be a godsend) who want to skip to a particular scene, because with a film like this it isn’t easy to remember where, within in the mosaic, any given scene occurred, though it may be easy enough to know which ‘act’ to look in. To be blunt (and not to look a really beautiful gift horse in the mouth) this seems like kind of a boneheaded play. I’d be interested to hear the reasoning behind it...

Anyway, enough bitching. Wonderful film, wonderful release – more Antonioni, please!

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Re: 82 Il grido

#38 Post by artfilmfan » Fri May 29, 2009 8:10 pm

Received my copy yesterday and did some spot check. I thought the cut from the scene pointed out by ellipsis7 as Item 1 is significant. The version on the Kino release does not shorten this scene. Having watched the Kino over the years, it will require some getting used to watching this MoC release.

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david hare
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Re: 82 Il grido

#39 Post by david hare » Fri May 29, 2009 9:50 pm

Sloper try to get your hands on I vinti which came out on a subtitled Italian disc a couple of years ago.

The English episode is staggering - the way it switches tone AND form from very atypical narrative tension to mood and one of his most astonishing characterizations of moral vacuity/noia is unique in his whole canon I think. The other episodes aren't bad either!!

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Re: 82 Il grido

#40 Post by Jonathan S » Sat May 30, 2009 4:36 am

Sloper wrote: The whole sequence involving the mentally ill folks was brilliantly done, as well as being a lovely homage to/parody of the scene in Bicycle Thieves where Antonio slaps Bruno.
I was surprised to read in one of the interviews with Antonioni (included in the booklet) that among the comic actors he particularly liked was Danny Kaye. Kaye's love of parody got me wondering whether the whole of Il grido is on some level a parody of "neo-realism". There are so many references to such classics as Ossessione (passion at the petrol station), Bicycle Thieves (man and child wandering), Umberto D (old man nobody wants), plus
SpoilerShow
Germany, Year Zero (suicidal jump of the central character).
It is of course a very serious film (hardly Mel Brooks!) but I got the feeling Antonioni was occasionally winking at us.

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Sloper
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Re: 82 Il grido

#41 Post by Sloper » Sat May 30, 2009 5:27 am

david hare wrote:Sloper try to get your hands on I vinti which came out on a subtitled Italian disc a couple of years ago.
Believe me I will, as soon as I’m no longer stone-cold broke and spending too much on other things – it’s a pretty expensive disc! I’m still holding out hope that there’ll be an Eclipse release of ‘40s and ‘50s Antonioni, though I’m guessing there’s some horrible legal reason why that won’t ever happen.

Jonathan S – yes, the parallels with Ossessione are really striking, especially that slap in the street (at least I’m fairly sure this happens in Visconti’s film…) Though Antonioni himself said this came about because his working class extras told him it would make more sense for the man to hit his woman in public than in private.

Another striking thing is how a film like Umberto D begins by picking its main character out of a crowd, and then returning him to it at the end; and Bicycle Thieves begins with Antonio being pulled into the crowd of job-seekers, and ends the same way; in Il Grido, the sugar refinery tower also provides for the protagonist’s symmetrical journey, but (aside from the symbolic associations Arrowsmith talks about) it figures him very much as an individual. At the end, Aldo is not a ‘face in the crowd’, as in the neorealist model, but a ‘face out of the crowd’, cast aside and forgotten by the great mass of people. Antonioni loves crowd scenes as much as De Sica, but rather than using them to extrapolate from the individual some aspect of society, he uses the crowd to say something about the individual, about their psychological or emotional make-up, and their alienation from – as opposed to identity with – everyone else. He leaves you looking inward, not outward.

Obvious thing to say about this director, I know, but I’m just agreeing with you really. It’s obvious from what MA himself said that he felt he was reacting against neorealism, not out of contempt for it (so maybe parody isn’t exactly the right word) but out of a sense that, partly because of his middle-class upbringing, he saw the world, and the problems of the individual or society, in a different way.

You're definitely right about the wink, though. Antonioni's films are rarely laugh-out-loud funny, but their pessimism is always leavened - without being compromised - by irony and humour.

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ellipsis7
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Re: 82 Il grido

#42 Post by ellipsis7 » Sat May 30, 2009 5:45 am

Antonioni is also referencing his own work - see the documentary GENTE DEL PO (1943-47) - his first foray into film and shot in the Po Valley at the same time as Visconti was making OSSESSIONE there.... Excuse the quality of the video, but some of the sequences are still simply sublime - note also the characteristic de Chirico like arcade and virtually deserted town square... It's a remarkable debut, and could have been longer, except some of the footage was damaged during processing and storage in the uncertain days of the war, and this is what was saved when he came to edit it...

Note also in his 2nd film NETTEZZA URBANA (1949-49) these refuse collectors and street sweepers are not 'faces picked out from the crowd' - they are invisible to the people around them, and are in no way individualised by the filmmaker, but nevertheless represent a seen but unseen world that is essential to the functioning city...

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martin
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Re: 82 Il grido

#43 Post by martin » Sun May 31, 2009 10:57 am

artfilmfan wrote:Received my copy yesterday and did some spot check. I thought the cut from the scene pointed out by ellipsis7 as Item 1 is significant. The version on the Kino release does not shorten this scene. Having watched the Kino over the years, it will require some getting used to watching this MoC release.
That's indeed true but the scene is inserted in the Kino release without any audio (apart from a lot of optical or magnetic noise) which makes it seem a little awkward. The second lovemaking scene (on the bank) is also intact on the Kino release, and works better, I think, because there is music in the scene or at least the latter part of the scene (after the daughter sees them). MOC probably could have reinserted these two scenes into the feature film but I don't blame them for their decision not to, as I suspect the scenes would seem awkward being completely silent?

Anyway, a very nice package from MoC! Lovely transfer, very nice booklet. Regarding the chapter stops mentioned in another post: Yes, I probably would have preferred more than five as well, but it's better than none (my Scandinavian DVD of Sympathy for the Devil has no chapter stops, which is completely ridiculous as the film is dividied into obvious chapters and even has chapter headings during the film)!

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colinr0380
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Re: 82 Il grido

#44 Post by colinr0380 » Mon Jun 01, 2009 2:25 pm

bigP wrote:Just to note, I was more than a little shocked to read the BBFC warning (which I get a huge chuckle out of every time I see one on the back of an MOC DVD these days, what with the quotation marks and the statement attributed to the BBFC which i'm really appreciating for it's schoolboy mockery that certainly puts across it's point very well) warning that this film "Contains moderate domestic violence, suicide & smoking" - BBFC. Have things really gotten this bad?

Anyway, that aside, thanks again for the hard work, Nick et al.
Yes, congratulations. I can't wait to get into the disc. I thought for the moment though that I would pick up on bigP's comments about the BBFC smoking warning. I just received a copy of the Optiumum disc of Bunuel's Gran Casino and the BBFC advice on this PG rated film is "mild violence, language and smoking scenes"!

Sadly the disc of Martyrs did not feature "contains sustained bloody violence and terror...and martyrdom theme". :D

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bigP
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Re: 82 Il grido

#45 Post by bigP » Mon Jun 01, 2009 3:47 pm

colinr0380 wrote:I just received a copy of the Optiumum disc of Bunuel's Gran Casino and the BBFC advice on this PG rated film is "mild violence, language and smoking scenes"!
I never noticed that on the Optimum Gran Casino ](*,) I actually thought for a while it was just MOC joshing with us.

I guess now smoking has become largely outlawed in public venues in the UK, they have a mild degree of justification, though, i wonder who it is the warning is aimed toward; those struggling with the patch? Will this extend to cigars, pipes, chewing tobacco - surely alchohol is just as worthy a taboo for safeguarding children on the wagon.

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Re: 82 Il grido

#46 Post by MichaelB » Mon Jun 01, 2009 4:20 pm

bigP wrote:I guess now smoking has become largely outlawed in public venues in the UK, they have a mild degree of justification, though, i wonder who it is the warning is aimed toward; those struggling with the patch? Will this extend to cigars, pipes, chewing tobacco - surely alchohol is just as worthy a taboo for safeguarding children on the wagon.
I suspect it's an automatic trigger with PG films, regardless of the rock-bottom likelihood of any under-twelves having the slightest desire to watch them.

But I think this whole smoking thing is a US import - I remember American film-vetting sites like Screen-It Movie Reviews for Parents singling out things like smoking and drinking long before the BBFC followed suit.

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ellipsis7
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Re: 82 Il grido

#47 Post by ellipsis7 » Mon Jun 01, 2009 4:32 pm

MichaelB wrote:
bigP wrote:I guess now smoking has become largely outlawed in public venues in the UK, they have a mild degree of justification, though, i wonder who it is the warning is aimed toward; those struggling with the patch? Will this extend to cigars, pipes, chewing tobacco - surely alchohol is just as worthy a taboo for safeguarding children on the wagon.
I suspect it's an automatic trigger with PG films, regardless of the rock-bottom likelihood of any under-twelves having the slightest desire to watch them.

But I think this whole smoking thing is a US import - I remember American film-vetting sites like Screen-It Movie Reviews for Parents singling out things like smoking and drinking long before the BBFC followed suit.
It's actually from Ireland, the first country to ban smoking in pubs and restaurants, public places, hospitals schools etc., which now has spread apparently to film certification. Indeed 'The Simpsons' St. Patrick's Day episode this year picked out the smoking ban as the main distinctive feature of modern Ireland along with the very mangy and toothless Celtic Tiger. Question is I suppose what to do with classic movies where smoking was de rigeur.

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Tommaso
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Re: 82 Il grido

#48 Post by Tommaso » Sat Jun 06, 2009 8:24 am

Let me briefly add to the praise for this new edition. Apart from the flawless transfer, which beautifully brings out all the various shades of gray in the landscape, the booklet is another highpoint for MoC. I found the Arrowsmith essay incredibly helpful in understanding the various layers of meaning that the film incorporates, specifically in his extended analysis of the hedgehog-catching scene. This is great old-school film analysis that has become all too rare. I was also very thankful for Arrowsmith's descriptions of those scenes that were in the script but didn't get filmed. I suppose that motorbike race would have made a great, disturbing addition to the film.
Sloper wrote:My only reservation is about Fusco’s score, which is very beautiful but a little maudlin at times. The recurring main theme is just too sentimental for this film; it feels at times a little bit like somebody commenting on the story who doesn’t really understand it. This isn’t a tragic love story about a man who can’t get over being dumped by his one true love. As the first act of the film shows, the problem is as much in Aldo’s inability to give anything to Irma as it is in her having ‘moved on’; a lot like the relationship at the start of L’Eclisse.
Yes, but does Aldo realise this? I suppose not, and in this respect the little sentimentalisms in the music (which I generally find quite varied, and mostly rather subtle) might be in there as a sort of illustration of Aldo's point-of-view, his non-understanding of why Irma leaves him and why he is getting increasingly lost in a world whose changing he doesn't come to terms with. Of course the harsher soundscapes of "L'Eclisse" are another story, but then the later film is also far more consequent in its depiction of alienation. Which doesn't mean that I consider "Il Grido" as weaker; but the film shows its main character walking (literally) into alienation, whereas "L'Eclisse" and "Deserto Rosso" have it as a given right from the beginning.
Sloper wrote:Anyway, enough bitching. Wonderful film, wonderful release – more Antonioni, please!
Precisely. "Le Amiche" or "Signora senza camelie" plus some of the early documentaries. If bitching is allowed, I wonder why "Gente del Po" didn't make it as an extra onto this disc. Would have fitted like a glove, probably.

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Sloper
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Re: 82 Il grido

#49 Post by Sloper » Sat Jun 06, 2009 7:57 pm

Tommaso wrote:The little sentimentalisms in the music (which I generally find quite varied, and mostly rather subtle) might be in there as a sort of illustration of Aldo's point-of-view, his non-understanding of why Irma leaves him and why he is getting increasingly lost in a world whose changing he doesn't come to terms with. Of course the harsher soundscapes of "L'Eclisse" are another story, but then the later film is also far more consequent in its depiction of alienation. Which doesn't mean that I consider "Il Grido" as weaker; but the film shows its main character walking (literally) into alienation, whereas "L'Eclisse" and "Deserto Rosso" have it as a given right from the beginning.
Yes, Aldo’s journey of self-discovery forms the basic narrative of the film, but I do think it’s misleading for the music to represent his state of mind as ‘sentimental’. The women in the film are sentimental, certainly; Aldo makes them all cry at some point. But Aldo himself doesn’t cry, he only reacts with spasmodic violence, against people, objects or himself. Perhaps it’s because I’m used to Antonioni’s later films, where the ‘harsher soundscapes’ do indeed serve to drive home the sense of alienation in a more extreme, confrontational way, but there just seemed to be a lot of moments in Il Grido when the music seemed redundant, as if it was put in there to try and give the film more melodramatic appeal. (Incidentally, I find this much more troubling in The Leopard, where some of the cues are horribly Max Steiner-ish, obviously an – ultimately failed – attempt by some meddling idiot to make the film more commercial.)

For instance, look at the scene where Edera comes home drunk from the dance, Aldo kisses her impulsively, then recoils and groans ‘Irma, Irma’ into the pillow. The bittersweet theme plays during all this, but Edera’s drunken laughter from the staircase clearly undercuts any normal emotive quality the scene might have had. This theme generally turns up at moments when Aldo is reminded of Irma – later, when Virginia chases the motorcyclist, a mere question from Rosina about her mother’s age is enough to set the maudlin piano going, even though this clearly isn't the mood of this small interlude – and at one moment it almost seems appropriate, when Aldo is reminiscing on the beach with Andreina. But as she notes angrily, his reminiscences sound incomplete. His memory of looking from the top of the sugar refinery tower and seeing his house, and his daughter playing outside, might seem touching, but in fact it suggests how distanced and detached were his relationships to his loved ones (you only have to look at the way he interacts with his daughter to see how hollow that memory is). This is what he is gradually realising, and it’s a chilling revelation, not a sad one. When he goes back to Goriano and sees that Irma now has a new and better home, he goes up the tower again, as if to confirm his fears about his own detachment from life: all he can see is the pervasive mist.

The film opens with a long shot of his house – perhaps to represent Aldo’s own perspective from the tower – and the figure who emerges from it, Irma, is unidentifiable for several minutes. It’s significant that, when we do see her properly, what we see is her receiving the news that her husband is dead. Disorientingly, for us, she then leaves the man who seems to be her husband, the father of her child; if only subliminally, we associate Aldo with the dead husband, and indeed it seems that Irma has been waiting for her real husband to die so that she can move on to the mysterious other man. Aldo has been a stop-gap, a shadow of the husband in Australia, feeding off his money until he dies, and then being discarded – even to the extent of passing his own child on, for another man to bring up.

Look at the way he makes love to Virginia, as though imitating her movements, going through the motions (she lies back and stretches, so does he; in the deleted scene, she climbs onto him, then he climbs onto her). When he cries out ‘Irma’, it isn’t simply because he misses her, it’s because he’s realising that, just as she has changed and moved on, so everyone and everything else he might potentially become attached to is changing, adapting. When he cries out for his lost love – and this is perhaps the central recurring ‘cry’ of the film – it’s because he feels her awful lesson dawning on him, sees the abyss opening up beneath him.

This is scary stuff, as ‘consequent’ in its exposure of alienation as any of the later films, I think: Aldo’s staggering from woman to woman is as disturbing as that of Ferzetti’s or Mastroianni’s in L’Avventura and La Notte, the crazed, directionless erotic impulses, without ‘voglia’, and headed only towards ‘niente’. It’s not surprising that Antonioni devised the stories for Il Grido and L’Avventura at the same time: if anything, Aldo is a more radical example than Sandro of a man incapable of that emotion generally perceived as ‘love’.

Don’t get me wrong, I like Fusco’s music (even in Le Amiche, where it's more out of place) but in this instance it just doesn’t express the protagonist’s state of mind. It’s music fit for Le Notti Bianche, perhaps, to be played over shots of Mastroianni nursing a drink in a barroom. The one time Fusco really gets it just right in Il Grido is when Aldo is looking at the adverts for jobs in Venezuela, and seems cheerful and hopeful, but then looks up and tosses the papers behind him, into the Po. It’s the unmistakeable gesture of a man who’s just moved one step closer to realising that he’s an empty shell, and the discordant reprise of the main theme fits this moment beautifully. Perhaps you're right, Tommaso, and Fusco is actually showing, in quite a sophisticated way, how Aldo's view of himself as a good, loving husband and father is gradually eroded, but however justifiable thematically, dramatically it feels like a mismatch.
Tommaso wrote:"Le Amiche" or "Signora senza camelie" plus some of the early documentaries. If bitching is allowed, I wonder why "Gente del Po" didn't make it as an extra onto this disc. Would have fitted like a glove, probably.
Absolutely – I’d happily buy a DVD with nothing but Gente del Po and N.U. on it (and thanks, Ellipsis, for the link to L’Amorosa Menzogna above), but it would be a real coup for MoC to release La Signora or I Vinti and include all the shorts as extras, as on La Gueule Ouverte. On that note, is I Tre Volti available in any format? A quick search seems to indicate not, but I’d love to be mistaken.

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ellipsis7
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Re: 82 Il grido

#50 Post by ellipsis7 » Sun Jun 07, 2009 4:00 am

I did also put links to Youtube quality GENTE DEL PO & NETTEZZA URBANA in my May 30th post in this thread (SUPERSTIZIONE (1949) can also be viewed there).... NETTEZZA URBANA & SETTE CANNE, UN VESTITO (1949) can be found as extras on the French DVD of LA SIGNORA SENZA CAMELIE in Carlotta's 3 film COFFRET ANTONIONI... The BFI NFT Antonioni season in 2005 had two shorts programmes, covering first 1943-1953 (8 films lasting 80mins), and then 1978-1997 (7 films lasting 88 mins) - would thus make a nice 2 disc set...

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