To finish off the Francesco Rosi season at Melbourne Cinematheque is Many Wars Ago (1970) and Carmen (1984).
Many Wars Ago was funded by Rosi himself and the gritty, angry and unforgiving story presented to the viewer could explain why no one else would fund it. Based on the memoirs of Emilio Lussu’s experiences as an Italian troop in World War I, Rosi tells the story of front-line soldiers facing the Austrian army in the Alps. When they are ordered by their general to enter the Austrian camps- despite their lack of provisions- the Italians mutiny. Not only drawing on class-conflict and struggle, Rosi also looks at the personal anguish soldier’s face between obeying military orders and obeying their conscience.
Carmen is Rosi’s film adaption of Bizet’s opera and, clocking in at 152 minutes, it is a forced to be reckoned with. Keeping with Bizet’s well-known opera of a soldier falling in love with a factory worker who does not reciprocate his feelings (and yet flirts with him relentlessly) the film was shot on location in Andalusia by Pasqualino de Santis who was also responsible for the photography in Many Wars Ago. Just as Carmen does not shy away from Don Jose, Rosi does not relent from highlighting the similarities between unresolved sexual attraction and violence, all in highly stylised and choreographed shots.
Next week Melbourne Cinematheque will begin a three week retrospective of the films of Josef con Sternberg.
It’s time for some more post-neo-realist, pseudo-documentary, politically driven cinema!
It’s time for Melbourne Cinematheque!
Salvatore Giuliano (1962) is a non-linear docu-drama that brilliantly highlights Rosi’s use of real-life events and people within a fictional narrative. Here, Rosi focuses on the rise and fall of Sicilian gangster Giuliano who was found shot in a terrace-garden in 1950 at the age of 28. Naturally, things are not as simple as they first appear. Giuliano, along with many others, had been hired by politicians to do their dirty work as they tried to create an independent Sicilian State, promising the gangsters immunity from their crimes. Now these politicians are in power it seems that these promises will not be kept.
Next is Lucky Luciano (1973) wherein Rosi explores the life of Charley ‘Lucky’ Luciano through a series of flash-backs and flash-forwards. Luciano was a Sicilian gangster turned naturalised American who went about killing his rivals and was sent back to Italy so the American government did not have to deal with him. With an outstanding cast, Rosi’s ‘gangster’ film defies all Genre types whilst looking at power, greed and corruption.
Another three week retrospective starts at Melbourne Cinematheque this week, this time focusing on Italian filmmaker Francesco Rosi. Having worked under Antonioni, Monicelli, and Visconti, Rosi took guidance from all whilst creating his own distinct style, often incorporating real life figures, events, and issues. A frontrunner of the Italian Post-neorealist movement, Rosi’s films are often overlooked. Thankfully Cinematheque has a vast array of his works in the coming weeks.
To begin we have Illustrious Corpses (1976). Formatted to be a film that follows along Breton’s surrealist drawing game Cadavre Exquis, the film is set in the political upset of Italy in the ‘70s, with leftists clashing with the conservative government and riots, disappearances, and murder becoming commonplace. Inspector Rogas is trying to find who killed two high-profile judges, the case leading him to realise that many prisoners the judges incarcerated were actually innocent. Whilst Rogas looses faith in the government system he has sworn to protect the revolutionaries he is investigating are also forced to face up to their ideals and recognise that the implementation of them can change them
Whilst set in West Germany, I Magliari (1959) still deals with the trials and tribulations constantly present throughout Italy and its inhabitants. Mario Balducci (Renato Salvatori) is first presented as living in Hannover. He then settles in Hamburg to sell cloth on the advice of a gregarious new acquaintance who turns out to have connections with organised crime. A beautifully shot exploration of the exploiting of immigrants and the marginalised.