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SPECIFICATIONS
  • 1.33:1 Standard
  • Italian Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono
  • English subtitles
  • 1 Disc
FEATURES
  • New video interviews with Isabella, Renzo, and Ingrid Rossellini, as well as film scholar Adriano Aprŗ
  • New visual essay by Tag Gallagher, author of The Adventures of Roberto Rossellini
  • Original theatrical trailer

Il generale Della Rovere


Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By: Roberto Rossellini
Starring: Vittorio De Sica
1959 | 132 Minutes | Licensor: Minerva Pictures

Release Information
DVD | MSRP: $29.95 | Series: The Criterion Collection | Edition: #463 | Out of print
RLJ Entertainment

Release Date: March 31, 2009
Review Date: March 12, 2009

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SYNOPSIS

In a magnetic performance, Vittorio De Sica is Bardone, an opportunistic rascal in wartime Genoa, conning and cheating his fellow Italians, exploiting their tragedies by promising to help find their missing loved ones in exchange for money. But when the Nazis force him to impersonate a dead partisan general in prison to extract information from fellow inmates, Bardone finds himself wrestling with his conscience for the first time. Roberto Rossellini's gripping drama, among his most commercially popular films, is further evidence of the compassionate artistry of one cinema's most important voices.

Forum members rate this film 8.3/10

 

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PICTURE

Il generale Della Rovere is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.33:1 on this dual-layer disc. The image has also been slightly picture boxed.

And Criterion continues their streak of surprising transfers with this release. The black and white image presents a striking amount of detail in every frame, and the image never goes soft or fuzzy. Iím amazed at the level of detail that can be seen throughout, best displayed on the textured walls of the prison sequences.

The print used also appears to be in outstanding shape, and clean-up looks to have been vigorous. Discounting stock footage or a rather obvious rear-projection sequence (which present plenty of marks and scratches) there is next to nothing in the way of marks or dirt anywhere to be found, other than a few small instances.

This isnít a Rossellini film I was overly familiar with before its release and looking it up it appears to be considered a somewhat middling work from the director (though I found it quite gripping and exciting, which arenít words Iíd normally use when describing a Rossellini film) yet despite this Criterion has put in just as much effort as any of their bigger, more popular titles.

8/10

All DVD screen captures are presented in their original size from the source disc. Images have been compressed slightly to conserve space. While they are not exact representations they should offer a general idea of overall video quality.

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AUDIO

The Italian Dolby Digital mono track is fine. Volume is nice and there is some range to it. Voices are clear and articulate, though music can be up down, probably limited by the source. There is a bit of a hiss at times, though not distracting. Overall itís average but serviceable.

6/10

SUPPLEMENTS

Criterionís lower-tier release contains a modest, though rather thorough, collection of supplements.

A good portion of the supplements are made up of interviews. Three of Rosselliniís children participate here, Isabella Rossellini up first. In her interview, running about 13-minutes, she recalls when the film was released (and recalls a German Shepherd they got and named Generale) and her fatherís opinions of the Germans over his career, showing more forgiveness by the time he got to Il generale Della Rovere. She also gets into a comparison between the film and Kurosawaís Kagemusha, talks about how her father kept the film cheap so he could get away with more artistic freedom, and talks about his relationship with actor/director Vittorio De Sica. I could actually listen to her talk about her father and his career for forever and I hope Criterion recorded more of her for other possible Rossellini releases (this looks to be a continuation on the interview Criterion did with her for The Taking of Power by Louis XIV.)

Also looking to be a continuation of another interview that appeared on the Taking of PowerÖ release, the directorís son, Renzo Rossellini, reflects on working with his father on the film as assistant director and the shooting of the film during this 10-minute interview. Thereís a continuation from Isabellaís interview about Roberto Rosselliniís feelings about the Germans, finding himself to be able to forgive them, and thereís some rather interesting surprises about the actual planning of the film, including the fact that Lino Ventura was originally considered for the main role that eventually went to De Sica, and apparently De Sica did a lot of improv for the film. I remember thinking his segment on the Taking of PowerÖ was a little too brief so I was happy to see a segment that felt more complete.

Film professor Ingrid Rossellini gets a brief 6-minute segment where she gives a brief analysis of her fatherís film and expands on something only somewhat hinted on in the other interviews, the fact that the director actually didnít like the film, probably because it was so traditional. She of course doesnít feel that way and defends the film.

Film historian Adriano Apra completes the set of interviews with his 8-minut segment. Itís brief but I rather liked it, as he gives a quick analysis of the film, and even offers some observations and opinions that never really occurred to me, such as the fact the film is the story of a relationship between an actor and director, De Sicaís Bardone being the actor and Messemerís Colonel MŁller being the director. Brief but good.

The Choice is a 15-minute visual essay by Tag Gallagher, who also did the visual essay for Criterionís DVD of The Taking of Power by Louis XIV. Itís an excellent essay that touches briefly on the filmís origins, a short novel by reporter Indro Montanelli based on a case very similar to what appears in the movie, and also briefly goes over the history of Italy during the time the film takes place. Thereís quite a bit of information on the making of the film, Rosselliniís intentions and his disappointments, and the techniques he used to keep the budget down (long takes being a key one.) Thereís also a wonderful examination of De Sicaís Bardone. Itís a nice visual essay, and teamed with everything else gives a well rounded look at the making of the film.

Closing the disc supplements is a theatrical trailer that looks to be selling the Venice Film Festival more than the actual film.

The included booklet contains a wonderful essay on the film by James Monaco, and then an interview segment with journalist Indro Montanelli who talks about the novel and the actual person on who the novel (and film) are based.

Criterionís Rossellini releases are excellent bargains when it comes to supplements and this one is no different. Yes, thereís barely an hourís worth of stuff on here, but it feels complete. Other than a deleted scene mentioned in the booklet (and I assume is missing) thereís not much else I can think of that should be added.

7/10

CLOSING

Like the other Rossellini releases from Criterion, their DVD for Il generale Della Rovere is a great bargain. The picture looks absolutely wonderful and the supplements, though modest, are fantastic and all worth watching, even helping add to my appreciation for the film. Well worth picking up.


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