May 04, 2011

Viva l'Italia (Italy 1961)

Not every film of a great director is automatically a masterwork.
And not every historical event makes for good entertainment.

You should be aware of those two facts before watching and expecting too much of Roberto Rossellini's film "Viva l'Italia". The film was shown at a local cinema in my city thanks to the 150 year anniversary of the Italian state. Initially made for the 100 year anniversary in 1961, it tells the story of revolutionary Giuseppe Garibaldi who liberated Italy from the Bourbon monarchy. From a historical point of view, the film is certainly interesting but is is simply not engaging enough to make it appealing for a wider audience.

There are two main reasons for that: first of all, it does not have strong individual characters the audience can relate too. Unlike in most other historical films, the focus is on the whole rather than, let's say, Garibaldi's individual fate. The second reason the film is not very exciting is because Rossellini sticks to the facts and refuses to add any elements that would make the story more dramatic. These intentions may be honorable but a little dramatization wouldn't have hurt the film. The documentarian approach which he also used in his neorealist masterpieces worked much better there because those films had more immediately emotional and intimate stories. It also doesn't go well together with the much bigger budget he had at his disposal for this work which was commissioned by the Italian government.

From a technical point of view, the film is certainly remarkably well made for the time and historians will appreciate the authenticity. It is certainly quality cinema but compared to his earlier films, most cinephiles will probably find it too ordinary.


Fratelli d'Italia

No comments:

Post a Comment