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:: Essential World Cinema: ITALY

This box set contains three of the all-time Italian film classics.

The first is 8 ½, directed by Federico Fellini and stars two of Italy's best ever film stars - Marcello Mastrioanni and Cladia Cardinale. Few films have achieved the status of this Fellini classic and it's always been considered a must-see for budding filmmakers.

Mastrioanni stars as a director with self-doubt in attempting to make a movie, which he doesn't know if is about his own life, or whether his life is about making this film. There are fantasies and memories of intricate note.
It's a complicated film, yet is also beautiful.

The second film in the set is Roberto Rossellini's Open City, set in Rome during World War 2, and shot soon after the war ended. It stars the incomparable Anna Magnani who brings a believable intensity to her role that swings through a variety of emotions. Aldo Fabrizi adds a touch of humour to his down-to-earth character.

Roberto Rossellini broke new cinematic ground by filming this incredible movie about the life-affirming struggles of ordinary Roman citizens who defied fascist forces. Forced to use whatever film stock he could salvage and to use amateurs to fill in necessary roles, Open City stands up as an historic landmark in Italian cinema.

One of the most poignant and incredible moments is a brutal interrogation scene, in which the Nazis torture a member of the resistance movement. In terms of violence, it is one of the most underwhelming torture scenes ever filmed, but also one of the most difficult to watch. No music plays. No camera tricks. We simply hear this poor man screaming, and we see the looks of horror as another prisoner watches the terrible ordeal. The Nazi official in charge does not delight in watching this man suffer; he simply observes and calmly repeats his questions, which the agonising captive refuses to answer.

The third film in the set is Rocco and His Brothers, directed by Luchino Visconti. With its overwhelming combination of social realism and emotion, this epic had an immeasurable influence on Italian-American cinema. Martin Scorsese and Francis Ford Coppola acknowledge this film as a huge influence on their great films.

The film stars the great French actor Alain Delon and Renato Salvatori and tells the struggles of a family of poor Sicilians trying to make a new life in Milan.

The overall package is fabulous because you won't be able to pick a set of three better Italian films that give that “essential” quality.

DVD Extras

Stills gallery
Theatrical trailer
Umbrella news

Note: 8 ½ has “The Lost Ending”, a documentary running 52 minutes. It is an interesting insight into the lost final sequence.