Blu-Ray Review: Rocco and His Brothers (Masters of Cinema)

Luchino Visconti is undoubtedly one of the greatest Italian film-makers of all time and was in the vanguard of the neorealism movement which swept the country from the mid 1940s for roughly a decade. His first film, Ossessione, is credited as being the first neorealist film. Whilst he’s best known for The Leopard and Death in Venice, his greatest achievement is arguably Rocco and His Brothers. Released in 1960, it’s an epic family drama clocking-up a runtime of over three hours.

Rocco Parondi (Alain Delon) is one of five brothers in a rural family from the south of Italy. After his father’s death, he accompanies his mother (Katina Paxinou) and three brothers (Simone (Renato Salvatori), Ciro (Max Cartier) and Luca (Rocco Vidolazzi)) to join their other sibling Vincenzo (Spiros Focás) in Milan. However, life is hard and they struggle to find work. Rocco joins the military, Simon becomes a boxer and Ciro gets a job at an automobile factory. However, the arrival of a prostitute, Nadia (Annie Girardot), into their lives starts of a number of chain reactions which will lead to the downfall of one of the brothers.

Visconti imbues Rocco and His Brothers with the essence of an epic family drama which feels like it spans several generations, never mind years. Although it bears all the hallmarks of an operatic melodrama, it never strays too far from the realms of social realism. It’s beautifully shot, with impressive central performances from Delon and Giradot. Rocco and His Brothers is a highly influential film, spanning movements and genres to create one of the most quintessentially Italian films.

Special Features:

  • High-definition 1080p presentation from a new 4K restoration
  • Optional English subtitles
  • Two audio choices; the original Italian, and the French dub
  • “Les coulisses du tournage”, a 2003 French documentary about the film
  • A 1999 interview with Visconti’s cinematographer Giuseppe Rotunno
  • An interview with actress Claudia Cardinale
  • A 2002 interview with actress Annie Giradot
  • “Luchino Visconti”, an hour long documentary about the life and work of Visconti
  • Two vintage newsreels
  • Original Italian trailer

A 40-page booklet featuring:

  • Writing by Guido Aristarco
  • An essay written by the director in 1960
  • A vintage interview with Visconti
  • Rare archival imagery

Rocco and His Brothers is released on Blu-ray by Eureka as part of their Masters of Cinema Collection on Monday.

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