Ossessione and La terra trema

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kieslowski_67
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Ossessione and La terra trema

#1 Post by kieslowski_67 » Thu Jun 23, 2005 10:37 am

Ossessione

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Restless wife Giovanna meets Gino, a rough and handsome drifter. Their passionate affair leads to the murder of Giovanna's boorish husband. Adapted from James M Cain's novel The Postman Always Rings Twice, a suggestion made to Visconti by Jean Renoir, Ossessione is an electrifying tale of the seductive and destructive power of human sexuality. It heralded a new era of Italian cinema, establishing Visconti as a leading and controversial exponent of neo-realism.

On its release in 1942, Ossessione outraged the Italian Fascist government with its shocking and authentic portrayal of proletarian life and was condemned as immoral and subversive. Heavily censored, it was initially suppressed from international distribution by MGM who subsequently produced their own version four years later. It was only in 1959 that a 112-minute version was played in Paris and a full seventeen years before American audiences finally saw the full 140-minute director's cut.

Extras:
- Commentary by David Forgacs, Professor of Italian at University College London and Lesley Caldwell, Associate Fellow, Italian Department, UCL
- Biography of Luchino Visconti and photograph

La terra trema

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Special Prize, Venice Film Festival 1948

La terra trema is a work of uncompromising realism that is universally acknowledged as a masterpiece of post-war Italian cinema. Entirely set and shot in a small village on the east coast of Sicily and using non-professional actors, it tells the story of a fishing family which attempts to escape from poverty and exploitation by becoming the owner of its own boat.

To acquire the boat the family is forced to mortgage its house but the boat is destroyed in a storm and the family is ruined. However, the film ends on a hopeful note, with the community able to learn from the events and succeed together in overthrowing exploitation.

Upon the film's release, the Valestro family, who were the main participants, wrote to Visconti expressing deep gratitude to him for telling their story to Italy and the world. We are profoundly grateful for the experience we underwent together, from which we have reaped the highest hopes for our future.

La terra trema instantly reveals the quality of Visconti's direction, particularly in the sheer beauty of the images and the vibrant performances he achieved from the villagers. Many of its themes recur in Visconti's later work but nowhere else are they so firmly anchored in realism and respect for life.

Extras:
- Director biography.

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Paul Moran
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#2 Post by Paul Moran » Thu Jun 23, 2005 7:29 pm

kieslowski_67 wrote:Can anyone provide me any information on the transfer quality of these two Visconti early masterpieces on the BFI release, especially when compared to the terrible release from R1? I can not find any related info from DVDbeaver. Thanks!
Amazon UK: Ossessione & La terra trema

BFI Ossessione: DVD Times and DVD Beaver

Couldn't see anything on BFI La Terra Trema, but R4 release looks like another poor effort: DVD Basen and Michael DVD

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hearthesilence
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Re: Ossessione and La terra trema

#3 Post by hearthesilence » Sun Jun 10, 2018 12:49 pm

Lincoln Center launched their Visconti retrospective this weekend. Both of these played yesterday.

Ossessione was a 4k scan (restored by Istituto Luce Cinecittà, CSC-Cineteca Nazionale and VIGGO) - I'm not sure if I remember the details correctly, but from what I recall, most of it came from an IP that was made from the OCN back in the day, while the remainder of the footage (I'm guessing the censored scenes?) were taken from a few different sources that were another generation or more removed from the OCN. They identify each source, and from what I can recall, the worst was the one long shot of Gino sitting on a suitcase by the water. But most of it looked really good, with some of the large close-ups of the lead performers looking especially marvelous - indeed, Gino's entrance looked wonderful.

La terra trema may have been an older restoration - there was no opening cards detailing what was done like Ossessione, but it was advertised as a "digital restoration from Istituto Luce Cinecittà." It looked quite good for a film that, given the way it was shot, I expected to look rough, but there were moments where you could really tell this was a digital print in the way the details were rendered.

I've never seen either film before. La terra trema is certainly an extraordinary example of neorealist filmmaking - I had to remind myself that the cast was most likely local unprofessionals, and I'm not sure if this extended to the leads who were quite good but they definitely looked their parts. Philosophically though this was a crushing bit of defeatism no matter how you look at it. If entrepreneurship, the engine of the free-market, can be the pathway out of poverty, it fails miserably here. By the same token, the same endeavor is intended by Antonio to be a model for the working class community, to free them from exploitation - when he's in dire need of help, they shame him and more or less leave him and his family to oblivion. (They even take time to needlessly mock Antonio late in the film.) I found out afterwards that this was produced by Communists who were hoping to use it as a propaganda, but it's hard to see how their ideals could have reliably succeeded within the film given with the way human nature is portrayed.

La terra trema may have had a kinship with John Ford's adaptation of The Grapes of Wrath. Championing the New Deal, Ford's film is a bit more hopeful, but both films end with more or less the same shot: fisherman returning to the sea and migrants moving on to an unknown destination, all persevering to survive.

Ford came to mind during Ossessione. On the big screen (and I was pretty close to the screen too), Massimo Girotti's entrance echoes John Wayne's in Stagecoach, with the camera moving in so fast, it doesn't snap into focus until after it lands. One idea from Ossessione that carries over to La terra trema - marriage as an economically driven ambition. Also a reflection of the times, but it's an idea that figures prominently in both films - it lays the groundwork for the James M. Cain story adapted into Ossessione and it's explicitly discussed by the narrator in La terra trema.

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zedz
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Re: Ossessione and La terra trema

#4 Post by zedz » Sun Jun 10, 2018 5:52 pm

hearthesilence wrote:
Sun Jun 10, 2018 12:49 pm
La terra trema is certainly an extraordinary example of neorealist filmmaking - I had to remind myself that the cast was most likely local unprofessionals, and I'm not sure if this extended to the leads who were quite good but they definitely looked their parts. Philosophically though this was a crushing bit of defeatism no matter how you look at it. If entrepreneurship, the engine of the free-market, can be the pathway out of poverty, it fails miserably here.
It's a Marxist film, so there's no way that entrepreneurship could be any kind of solution. The 'correct' approach is collective action by the proletariat, but. . .
By the same token, the same endeavor is intended by Antonio to be a model for the working class community, to free them from exploitation - when he's in dire need of help, they shame him and more or less leave him and his family to oblivion. (They even take time to needlessly mock Antonio late in the film.)
. . . as you note, the proletariat can be their own worst enemy, cowed by hegenomy into acting against their best interests and victimising one another rather than directing their animus to their actual oppressors.
I found out afterwards that this was produced by Communists who were hoping to use it as a propaganda, but it's hard to see how their ideals could have reliably succeeded within the film given with the way human nature is portrayed.
Visconti presents a comprehensive Marxist analysis in the film, but as you say, that makes for a a rather unpalatable 'entertainment'. Unlike a lot of rousing and not very good socialist realist films, it makes its points entirely in the negative, which makes it a bit of a dud as propaganda goes, but terrific as a piece of cinematic art.

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