47 Bellissima

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Michael
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47 Bellissima

#1 Post by Michael » Fri Jul 29, 2005 11:04 am

Bellissima

Image

When casting children's roles, director Luchino Visconti (The Leopard; Death in Venice) is said to have been besieged by clamouring mothers, each trying to attract his attention to their child with cries of "Bellissima!". In his film of the same name, Visconti turned his experiences into art, in the form of a satire on the motivations and machinations at work in the film industry, with the famous Cinecittà studios as a backdrop.

Maddalena (Anna Magnani) is a screenstruck mother convinced of her daughter Maria's (Tina Apicella) star potential. Dreaming of a better life for her family – as a means of escape from the struggles of everyday existence in working-class Rome – she invests everything, including her last penny, into the dream that her daughter will be discovered at an open casting. However, on overhearing the film crew's candid assessment of her daughter's audition (in what Variety described in 1952 as "one of the cruellest scenes ever filmed") Maddalena is forced to reconsider her views on the film industry and its world of illusions.

Written by Cesare Zavattini (Shoeshine; Bicycle Thieves), Bellissima stars Italy's most famous actress, Oscar-winning Magnani (Rome, Open City; The Rose Tattoo; Mamma Roma), in a bravura performance that moved Hollywood legend Bette Davis to make the following tribute: "This is Magnani, tempestuous. This is Magnani, brilliant and uninhibited. This is Magnani full of volcanic, earthy power. This is Magnani, tender, poignant, and unbelievably stirring". The Masters of Cinema Series is proud to present – for the first time on home video in the UK – Visconti’s exposé of false dreams and shallow fantasies behind the screen, a subtle critique of the industry in which he worked.

SPECIAL FEATURES

• New high-definition progressive transfer, in the original aspect ratio
• New and improved optional English subtitles
• A PROPOSITO DI BELLISSIMA [31:42]
• Video interview with Bellissima co-screenwriter and assistant director Francesco Rosi [10:31]
• Original theatrical trailer [3:51]
• 32-page illustrated booklet containing writing by Geoffrey Nowell-Smith and much more...

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kieslowski_67
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#2 Post by kieslowski_67 » Fri Jul 29, 2005 12:54 pm

Michael wrote:Being a Visconti fan, I'm damn curious about one of his lesser known or discussed films Bellissima which features the great Anna Magnani.

The VHS or DVD seems impossible to come by (is there one available?).

Any comments about Bellissima?
It has been released on DVD overseas. I guess that the picture quality is suspicious. And Japan released a Visconti 3 DVD box which includes "Bellissima".
I have not ordered the box set but world is that "Ossessione" transfer is superior than those from either BFI or Image R1 release.

I watched his "Vaghe stelle dell'Orsa..." recently on a Japanese DVD. It's a beautiful transfer and I think that you will love the film, Michael.

"SIAMO DONNE" is also fine on the Japanese DVD. Visconti did the Magnani segment and it's delicious.

And I guess that you do know that both 'conversation piece' and 'the innocent' were released in R2. Not great transfer by any means, good collection by Visconti fans anyway.

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backstreetsbackalright
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#3 Post by backstreetsbackalright » Fri Jul 29, 2005 2:23 pm

I was able to rent a VHS copy in Seattle. Picture quality wasn't terrific, but it was certainly watchable.

The movie's great. One of my favorite (if not in fact my very favorite) Magnani roles. Basically Magnani is convinced that her little girl has the makings of a screen star, and goes to absurd lengths to make this happen. Not too far removed from Masina's Cabiria, Magnani plays an ultra-driven mother who idealistically assumes that her daughter's adorable looks and (less than remarkable) talent will leap out at producers, but of course that's not how the movies work. The film has a nice episodic quality with a number of sequences that really stand out in my memory (the daughter's haircut, the casting call, etc.). Now that White Nights is readily available, this is the obscure Visconti title to beat. Fans should be sure to track this one down.

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Michael
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#4 Post by Michael » Fri Jul 29, 2005 2:25 pm

The Japanese DVDs sound great. Here comes the old tired question: English subtitles?

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#5 Post by kieslowski_67 » Sun Jul 31, 2005 4:26 pm

backstreetsbackalright wrote:I was able to rent a VHS copy in Seattle. Picture quality wasn't terrific, but it was certainly watchable.

Now that White Nights is readily available, this is the obscure Visconti title to beat. Fans should be sure to track this one down.
Nope, 'the stranger' is still the one to beat. Not available on DVD or VHS even if it stars Mastroianni and the beautiful Anna Karina.
Michael wrote:The Japanese DVDs sound great. Here comes the old tired question: English subtitles?
It only has Japanese subtitles on it. Neither is "SIAMO DONNE". I will check to see whether 'Sandra' has English subtitles next week and come back to you.

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Awesome Welles
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#6 Post by Awesome Welles » Fri May 11, 2007 10:45 am

It has been released in Italy in a lovely looking 2 disc set with English subs, I'm just waiting to see what the quality is like...?

It's available here and here. I got mine on eBay.it though, I'm sure there are still some available.

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Michael
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#7 Post by Michael » Fri May 11, 2007 10:58 am

a lovely looking 2 disc set
I have the Italian DVD - its one disc, not two. More details here.

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Awesome Welles
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#8 Post by Awesome Welles » Fri May 11, 2007 11:44 am

You're absolutely right, my mistake I just had a look, I just remember seeing that the extras were good and thought it was split over two discs.

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#9 Post by david hare » Fri May 11, 2007 7:21 pm

I posted screencaps from the absolutely gorgeous Italian disc last year on this page.

Unreservedly recommended.

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peerpee
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#10 Post by peerpee » Fri May 11, 2007 9:31 pm

Coming from MoC in late Summer.

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#11 Post by david hare » Fri May 11, 2007 10:23 pm

Same source?

Nick have you made any enquiries about the supposedly restored Senso?

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Awesome Welles
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#12 Post by Awesome Welles » Sun May 20, 2007 9:02 am

Ok so I've seen the film now (it was great) and now it's on ebay. I'll be purchasing the MoC edition. I was so sure that Senso was going to be the Visconti mentioned.

Any ideas for features Nick? Francesco Rosi gives a lovely interview on the Italian disc, I always enjoy his interviews. It'd be nice to see something like this on the MoC disc, any chance this could be licenced? I am not aware of any other relevant material.

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#13 Post by Scharphedin2 » Sun May 20, 2007 12:35 pm

davidhare wrote:Nick have you made any enquiries about the supposedly restored Senso?
This is a lovely film, and it is great that Masters of Cinema will make it available to an even wider audience.

However, since I own the Italian disc, in my heart I had of course hoped against hope that Senso (or even Sandra) would be the upcoming release from Masters of Cinema... So, reiterating Davidhare's question, do you have any thoughts or info on Senso (or Sandra), Peerpee?

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#14 Post by BrightEyes23 » Sun May 20, 2007 5:50 pm

speaking of Rosi...any chance MoC would release the Mattei Affair?

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peerpee
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#15 Post by peerpee » Sun May 20, 2007 7:35 pm

We've been chasing it for 3 years, its rights are badly tied up.

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#16 Post by mikeohhh » Sun May 20, 2007 11:44 pm

peerpee wrote:We've been chasing it for 3 years, its rights are badly tied up.
Senso or The Mattei Affair?

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Awesome Welles
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#17 Post by Awesome Welles » Mon May 21, 2007 5:18 am

I emailed Nick quite a while ago about The Mattei Affair and he says that it's with Paramount and it looks unlikely, although he could be referring to Senso...

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#18 Post by pro-bassoonist » Thu May 31, 2007 3:13 pm

FSimeoni wrote:I emailed Nick quite a while ago about The Mattei Affair and he says that it's with Paramount and it looks unlikely, although he could be referring to Senso...
Senso is property of Studio Canal and Optimum are releasing the new restored print on July 9th.

Pro-B

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#19 Post by peerpee » Thu May 31, 2007 4:42 pm

FSimeoni wrote:Any ideas for features Nick? Francesco Rosi gives a lovely interview on the Italian disc, I always enjoy his interviews. It'd be nice to see something like this on the MoC disc, any chance this could be licenced? I am not aware of any other relevant material.
We've licenced over 40 minutes of extras from the Italian edition of BELLISSIMA, which we're subtitling now (including the Rosi interview).

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TheGodfather
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#20 Post by TheGodfather » Mon Jun 04, 2007 3:39 pm

Looks really beautiful. I`m quite curious about this one so I`ll be getting it of course.

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#21 Post by manicsounds » Tue Jun 05, 2007 3:43 am

This movie was playing on the TV set in Almodovar's Volver, wasn't it?
I haven't seen Bellissima, is there any connection in theme for both films?

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#22 Post by david hare » Tue Jun 05, 2007 5:17 am

Hmm???

It's a movie about movies - to a degree.

I admit I've never found ( or sought ) a connection between Pedro's and Luchino's direction of performers. But you have to remember this is a Magnani picture, with a fucking Zavvatini scrrenplay! During which uncle Luchino totally breaks the mould. And liberates "neo-realism" into stylization. Away from mainpulative melodrama - and refocusses it to a star. This is so MUCH better a movei than la Terra Trema! (whichI now view as a hiccup in his career.)

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#23 Post by Awesome Welles » Tue Jun 05, 2007 5:22 am

davidhare wrote:This is so MUCH better a movei than la Terra Trema! (whichI now view as a hiccup in his career.)
Really? As much as I love Bellissima, I think La Terra Trema is one of his greatest films from this early period and is incredibly powerful.

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#24 Post by ellipsis7 » Tue Jun 05, 2007 8:30 am

Nowell-Smith cites Flaherty & Eisenstein as Visconti's influences on LA TERRA TREMA, turning away from the naturalistic influence of his mentor Renoir which is apparent in OSSESSIONE... As such LA TERRA TREMA does exhibit something of the early elements of Visconti's operatic style, a development continued more fulsomely with BELLISSIMA...

Perhaps the best comparison for BELLISSIMA (1951) is with similar themed and near contemporaneous films, Fellini's LO SCEICCO BIANCO (1952) and especially Antonioni's LA SIGNORA SENZA CAMELIE (1953), and their varying treatments of common subject matter...

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Michael
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#25 Post by Michael » Tue Jun 05, 2007 8:44 am

This movie was playing on the TV set in Almodovar's Volver, wasn't it?
I haven't seen Bellissima, is there any connection in theme for both films?
Yes, that was the movie playing in Volver. I failed to see any connection between both films except that Cruz dressed sort of like Magnani but Cruz isn't Magnani. There is NO ONE like Magnani period.

I like Volver but Bellissima is millions times better and more powerful. Your life isn't complete without having seen Magnani's breathtakingly operatic performance at least once. Don't get me wrong, I like Volver (I still think Bad Education is Almodovar's masterpiece) but as a film, Bellissima overshadows Volver in every way.

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