Melbourne Cinematheque- The Politics of Corruption: Francesco Rosi’s Engaged Cinema (week III)

16 May

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.

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