Movie Review: Novecento (1900)

Movie Review: Novecento - 1900 (1976)

By Duplicate Value

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Novecento is a five-hour long, Italian epic directed by Bernardo Bertolucci, and was released in 1976. It is set in Italy during the early years of the 20th Century, when the country was torn between fascism and communism, focusing on how these social changes effected the lives of the people of Italy, and the divides between the poor and the rich.
It features a star-studded cast, including a young Robert De Niro, Gerard Depardieu, Donald Sutherland and Burt Lancaster.

Plot
Beware: minor spoilers

Novecento follows the lives of two Italian men born on the same day - one, a bastard child of peasant farmers, and the other, the son of a wealthy landowner. We see how their lives play out from birth to old age - the decisions they make, the relationships they forge, and how their policies and social standings shape both their destinies, and the relationship between them.

Despite the differences in their social standings, Alfredo, the mildly rebellious son of a wealthy family of landowners who aspires to become a much kinder man than his father, and Olmo, the son of socialist peasants, become friends early on in their childhood, due to the fact that Olmo's family work on the land owned by Alfredo's father.

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Young Alfredo (left) and Olmo (right)

However, as they grow older their lives lead them down different paths. Olmo enlists in the Italian army during the first world war, and Alfredo remains behind as an heir to the family estate, learning how to manage the land and it's workers from his father. By the time Olmo returns from the army, Alfredo's father has hired someone to take a leading role in the management of his estate, in the form of a cruel socialist named Attila.

As time wears on, Attila's violent nature becomes more and more apparent, managing the land strictly, and treating the peasant workers as if they were animals. He even goes to the point of killing many of the workers himself, in an effort to instil fear amongst the others. When Alfredo's father dies, Alfredo is left with the duty of being the new "padrone" (basically, the boss of the land and it's inhabitants). However, even in his new power, Alfredo doesn't show any signs of trying to halt Attila's barbaric behaviour.

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Alfredo (De Niro) and Olmo (Depardieu)

Along the way, both Alfredo and Olmo get married and settle down into their lives, but as time wears on, the relationship between the two childhood friends comes under strain as Alfredo starts to become more and more like his father, and Olmo becomes a leader for the peasants on the estate. It is at this time that the battle between fascism and communism starts to tear the country apart.

When communism prevails, the landowners are left at the mercy of the peasants. It is now that those who oppressed the workers would have to pay for their crimes, Attila in particular.
This, it turns out, is the true test of the bond between Alfredo and Olmo. Will Olmo defend his life-long friend from the wrath of his fellow workers, or will he condemn him to his fate?

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Attila (Sutherland)

Review

I found out about this movie as I was idly browsing IMDb one day and instantly wanted to see it. Unfortunately, it's not an easy movie to get a hold of, so I was ecstatic when I found a site where they sold uncut PAL copies of it (I don't have a region-free DVD player, and I prefer to watch movies uncut as the director intended). It wasn't ideal, having English dubs as opposed to the original Italian, but I take what I can get.

The first thing I'll say about this movie is that it is truly beautiful. Not in an emotional sense (though there's plenty of that too), but in the setting. The Italian countryside really is jaw-droppingly gorgeous: open grassy plains, large fields of golden wheat blowing in the wind, and country roads that stretch on until they get lost on the horizon. It really is a treat to look at. As well as that, the picture quality was surprisingly good considering the age of the movie.

The acting in the movie, though kind of wooden at times (especially where the child actors are concerned), is good overall, with brilliant performances from De Niro, Depardieu, and especially Donald Sutherland. The characters are played skilfully - making you come to love some of them (Depardieu's character, for example), and absolutely loath some of the more evil characters (Attila (Sutherland) almost brought me to the brink of angry tears).
This, along with a stunning performance from Dominique Sanda, leaves very little to be desired in the way of acting.

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Ada (Dominique Sanda)



The story itself is compelling, and manages to hold your attention for most of the 300 minutes (yes it is actually five hours long). Though I'll admit that my interest began to wane during the third quarter of the movie. It got quite political around this time, so it was mostly lost on me. This shouldn't be a problem for the more historically-minded among you, though.
The friendship between the characters is inspiring to say the least, and at times heart-wrenching. Their bond is just so adorable in their childhood that it's almost painful to watch it deteriorating during the latter half of the movie. I never thought I'd say this about a movie, but I felt........involved.
When Attila would mistreat the peasants, I wanted to hit him - to make him feel pain. And (I'm not joking), I grinned like an idiot for most of the last hour of the movie, when the peasants got to exact their revenge on the 'bad guys'.

Now, if you've heard of this movie before, you may have heard some of the controversy surrounding it. I won't lie - this movie is extremely graphic. It contains vast amount of violence and gore, and possibly even more sex and nudity. But, instead of seeing these as bad things, I think they were necessary to make the movie as involving as it is - you may dislike a character slightly for murdering someone off-screen, but when you can see the blood splattered all over the walls and seeping from the victims head, that's when you really grow to hate them.

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I have to say, I loved this movie - I enjoyed every aspect of it, and I'm willing to see past it's flaws. I can't tell you whether or not you should watch this movie, because ultimately you'll either love it or hate it, and there's no telling which it will be. But if you are interested in foreign cinema, and aren't afraid to watch something controversial and emotional, then I highly recommend this absolute classic.

If you've made it this far, thank you for reading. I would appreciate any feedback you have on either the movie or the review itself.

- DuplicateValue

Wait! Isn't this the movie where Donald Sutherland runs right into a kitten?

HUBILUB:
Wait! Isn't this the movie where Donald Sutherland runs right into a kitten?

Yeah, that's the one. He's the main bad guy in the movie.
Don't worry, it's off-screen and not too violent.

DuplicateValue:

HUBILUB:
Wait! Isn't this the movie where Donald Sutherland runs right into a kitten?

Yeah, that's the one. He's the main bad guy in the movie.
Don't worry, it's off-screen and not too violent.

I actually find that scene hilarious (out of context of course. It's all Noah Antwiler's fault!)

HUBILUB:

DuplicateValue:

HUBILUB:
Wait! Isn't this the movie where Donald Sutherland runs right into a kitten?

Yeah, that's the one. He's the main bad guy in the movie.
Don't worry, it's off-screen and not too violent.

I actually find that scene hilarious (out of context of course. It's all Noah Antwiler's fault!)

Really? I would've thought that people would find it disgusting or overly-violent, though it doesn't bother me too much.

Though I don't see why it would be funny... :D

DuplicateValue:

HUBILUB:

DuplicateValue:

HUBILUB:
Wait! Isn't this the movie where Donald Sutherland runs right into a kitten?

Yeah, that's the one. He's the main bad guy in the movie.
Don't worry, it's off-screen and not too violent.

I actually find that scene hilarious (out of context of course. It's all Noah Antwiler's fault!)

Really? I would've thought that people would find it disgusting or overly-violent, though it doesn't bother me too much.

Though I don't see why it would be funny... :D

Donald Sutherland always seem to play characters that are insane (Read: Oddball) and so when I saw it out of context, I just thought "Classic Sutherland".

And TheSpoonyOne agrees!

HUBILUB:

Donald Sutherland always seem to play characters that are insane (Read: Oddball) and so when I saw it out of context, I just thought "Classic Sutherland".

And TheSpoonyOne agrees!

TheSpoonyOne? O.o

DuplicateValue:

HUBILUB:

Donald Sutherland always seem to play characters that are insane (Read: Oddball) and so when I saw it out of context, I just thought "Classic Sutherland".

And TheSpoonyOne agrees!

TheSpoonyOne? O.o

You don't know who that is?

HUBILUB:

DuplicateValue:

HUBILUB:

Donald Sutherland always seem to play characters that are insane (Read: Oddball) and so when I saw it out of context, I just thought "Classic Sutherland".

And TheSpoonyOne agrees!

TheSpoonyOne? O.o

You don't know who that is?

Nope, can't say I do...

DuplicateValue:

HUBILUB:

DuplicateValue:

HUBILUB:

Donald Sutherland always seem to play characters that are insane (Read: Oddball) and so when I saw it out of context, I just thought "Classic Sutherland".

And TheSpoonyOne agrees!

TheSpoonyOne? O.o

You don't know who that is?

Nope, can't say I do...

Weird... He's one of the most popular nerds on the internet. He won the Webby for funniest person and even Yahtzee thinks he is one of the funniest :O

www.thespoonyexperiment.com
This is totally not advertisement, I'm simply making a recommendation <.<

HUBILUB:

DuplicateValue:

HUBILUB:

DuplicateValue:

HUBILUB:

Donald Sutherland always seem to play characters that are insane (Read: Oddball) and so when I saw it out of context, I just thought "Classic Sutherland".

And TheSpoonyOne agrees!

TheSpoonyOne? O.o

You don't know who that is?

Nope, can't say I do...

Weird... He's one of the most popular nerds on the internet. He won the Webby for funniest person and even Yahtzee thinks he is one of the funniest :O

www.thespoonyexperiment.com
This is totally not advertisement, I'm simply making a recommendation <.<

I went there and all I saw was a list of ads. You sure it's the right address? :)

DuplicateValue:

HUBILUB:

DuplicateValue:

HUBILUB:

DuplicateValue:

HUBILUB:

Donald Sutherland always seem to play characters that are insane (Read: Oddball) and so when I saw it out of context, I just thought "Classic Sutherland".

And TheSpoonyOne agrees!

TheSpoonyOne? O.o

You don't know who that is?

Nope, can't say I do...

Weird... He's one of the most popular nerds on the internet. He won the Webby for funniest person and even Yahtzee thinks he is one of the funniest :O

www.thespoonyexperiment.com
This is totally not advertisement, I'm simply making a recommendation <.<

I went there and all I saw was a list of ads. You sure it's the right address? :)

Oh, wait sorry, I made a mistake.

www.spoonyexperiment.com

There's no "the" >.>

HUBILUB:

Oh, wait sorry, I made a mistake.

www.spoonyexperiment.com

There's no "the" >.>

Cool, looks interesting - I'll look through it properly later.
After being on the computer for so long writing that review, I think I need a break for a while. :D

DuplicateValue:

Oh, wait sorry, I made a mistake.

www.spoonyexperiment.com

There's no "the" >.>

Cool, looks interesting - I'll look through it properly later.
After being on the computer for so long writing that review, I think I need a break for a while. :D[/quote]
Be sure to check out his infamous Final Fantasy 8 hate review! :D

Have a good day.

Wow, I thought "Once Upon a Time in America" was the extent of DeNiro's absurdly long, morally objectional epics. This film sounds really interesting (big DeNiro fan here) enough so I've actually ordered a copy, thanks for making me aware of it.

As far as the review goes, it does a few things I usually dislike, but gets around the main problems involved that I usually encounter along with them. It's an incredibly personal account of your experience of the film, with a fair amount of first and second person ("I" and "you" statements respectively), but you more or less explain your reactions, although the second persons aside felt uneccessary to me.

Some redudancies (for example, there's no need to say the actors act skilfully, as that's implied when saying the acting is good). Also, the picture placement was quite repititive, it works, but a bit of variation may be worth experimenting with in the future (if your future involves more reviews). The formatting (specifically, paragraph breaks) was inconsistant, at least stick to a method.

I'd say this is a ok review that could be fleshed out and polished. Judging from what else I've read on the web now, there's much more to this film that you've explained. Also, the writing was a little stilted at the beginning, but became more natural as it went on, so I'm sure practise would only improve it further.

pigeon_of_doom:
Wow, I thought "Once Upon a Time in America" was the extent of DeNiro's absurdly long, morally objectional epics. This film sounds really interesting (big DeNiro fan here) enough so I've actually ordered a copy, thanks for making me aware of it.

As far as the review goes, it does a few things I usually dislike, but gets around the main problems involved that I usually encounter along with them. It's an incredibly personal account of your experience of the film, with a fair amount of first and second person ("I" and "you" statements respectively), but you more or less explain your reactions, although the second persons aside felt uneccessary to me.

Some redudancies (for example, there's no need to say the actors act skilfully, as that's implied when saying the acting is good). Also, the picture placement was quite repititive, it works, but a bit of variation may be worth experimenting with in the future (if your future involves more reviews). The formatting (specifically, paragraph breaks) was inconsistant, at least stick to a method.

I'd say this is a ok review that could be fleshed out and polished. Judging from what else I've read on the web now, there's much more to this film that you've explained. Also, the writing was a little stilted at the beginning, but became more natural as it went on, so I'm sure practise would only improve it further.

Hmm, thanks - I'll try to take all this into account the next time. But did you mean the way it was an "incredibly personal account" was a good or bad thing?

DuplicateValue:
But did you mean the way it was an "incredibly personal account" was a good or bad thing?

It's definitely not a bad thing, more a stylistic point. The way you've written this review, it's very clear that what is described is your own personal experience of the film; you describe your discovery of the film, your emotional reaction to the film, times your interest waned, parts you didn't understand etc. There's nothing wrong with that kind of frankness in a review, after all, reviews are always an evaluation of the reviewer's experience. There are more general approaches, but there's nothing fundamentally wrong with this one.

pigeon_of_doom:

DuplicateValue:
But did you mean the way it was an "incredibly personal account" was a good or bad thing?

It's definitely not a bad thing, more a stylistic point. The way you've written this review, it's very clear that what is described is your own personal experience of the film; you describe your discovery of the film, your emotional reaction to the film, times your interest waned, parts you didn't understand etc. There's nothing wrong with that kind of frankness in a review, after all, reviews are always an evaluation of the reviewer's experience. There are more general approaches, but there's nothing fundamentally wrong with this one.

Oh, okay then. =]
As for the picture placement, I don't actually know how to do anything other than center them.

Also, have you read my other review? I'd like to know if the overall case is the same for it. If you have time, that is. :)

http://www.escapistmagazine.com/forums/read/326.159257
(I realise it's quite picture-heavy.)

I reckon the pictures in the other review are actually worse arranged, because as well as all having no variation, there's a lot of large, long ones which disrupt the text too much. That problem isn't present with smaller, rectangular ones used in this review.

As for picture arrangement, here's another poster's guide to it:

Novajam:

The forum's image tag to insert a picture is:

(img)-image url-(/img)

However, you can go a step up from that, like this:

(img width="600" height="400")-image url-(/img)

This will resize your image to be 400 pixels high and 600 pixels wide. The numbers can be changed, of course, depending on what size you want the picture to be. This can be particularly useful if the pictures you want to use are too large, or wider than the main panel of the forums.

You can also put your pictures inside spoiler tags, like this:

(spoiler=A picture)(img)-image url-(/img)(/spoiler)

This is helpful for people with slow connections, and lets them choose to whether to load pictures or not.

All that's pretty cool, but we can get even more technical if we feel like it:

(img_inline caption=All work and no play makes jack a dull boy align="center")-image url-(/img_inline)

This tag puts the picture within a box, complete with a caption, and aligns it to the centre of the page. Notice that "center" is spelt the American way, with "er". Spelling it "centre" with an "re" (the British way) will not work.

Remember that for all of these examples you'll need to replace the round brackets ( ) with triangular ones < >. Also keep in mind that you can combine these elements together and make your pictures look really spiffy, like this:

Alingining the picture to different sides can be done by changing the [center] square brackets you used to your chosen area. The following picture's code (with brackets replacing square brackets):
(right)(image height=250)http://www.utoronto.ca/stmikes/kelly/images/1900.jpg(/image)(/right)

image

And any text written after the code wraps around the image like this.

It's worth playing with, as it can give a near-magazine format style to the review. You can look at other reviewer's efforts to see how they do it.

(It usually looks better with a larger amount of text next to it)

Hope that helps you come up with some fancy picture arrangements in any future reviews. Good luck with it. Just ask if you're still unclear on anything else.

pigeon_of_doom:
*snip*

Thanks so much. You've been amazingly helpful. If I incorporate this into future reviews, I'll be sure to mention you. =]

DuplicateValue:
If I incorporate this into future reviews, I'll be sure to mention you. =]

Glad to help, but you don't need to do that. I just took a quote from another thread and gave an example. I hardly need to be credited. I'll take 10% of any earnings however ;)

Wow. How has this thread got 20 replies from only 3 posters? Italian political epics aren't as popular as they used to be...

pigeon_of_doom:
Wow. How has this thread got 20 replies from only 3 posters? Italian political epics aren't as popular as they used to be...

It's a shame really.
I guess most people don't care about movies that don't shove an explosion in your face every few seconds.

 

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