Thursday, May 01, 2008

This cracks me up! Ah, the early 60s..

The 35,000 Foot Critic:
Bertolucci's 20th Century Through Prisms of 'Isms'

On one of my four two-day trips to Latin America this year so far, I finally saw a bona fide foreign film classic, Bertolucci's '1900,' a gorgeous and riveting four-hour-plus epic that saunters and careens through the first five decades of the 20th century.

What makes four hours fly is the superb acting - in very convincing Italian - of a very young Robert DeNiro and Gerard Depardieu, two of the greatest film talents of my nearly-five-decade life... They play a rich boy and a peasant boy both born on January 1, 1900 to the lord of the manor and his lackey. A friendship forms, as DeNiro grows up to be a rudderless bohemian while Depardieu slowly embraces communism, one of the century's defining 'isms.'

I barely recognized Donald Sutherland as the cruel overseer of the manor, a frustrated and pitiless social climber who chooses the 'ism' of the fascia with all that implies... Sutherland of course also acts in perfect Italian. No dubbing here!

If DeNiro's father represents feudalism, DeNiro himself wavers from nihilism and altruism, propelled by a weak nature and fatal passion..

Bertolucci wisely prefers to observe the era's political and social passions rather than preach... The cinematography, soundtrack, production design and costumes are all breathtaking. It's 255 minutes very well-spent, if you ever have the time and the inclination.

No five parameters today, but I must at least provide an encapsulation and two haikus.

Four Words That Encapsule: 'Gone With The Vento'

Haikus: (5/7/5)

'Two boys, rich and poor
seeds of Europe's churning strife
grow in wrenching times'

'Mean lean DeNiro
Depardieu without a gut
Taut, tense and sexy'

Here's a three-minute excerpt from '1900:'
Don't let the Italian or the starkness scare you - it's a masterpiece

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