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Ossessione [1942] [DVD]


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Product details

  • Actors: Clara Calamai, Massimo Girotti, Juan de Landa, Elio Marcuzzo, Dhia Christani
  • Directors: Luchino Visconti
  • Format: PAL
  • Language: Italian
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 4:3 - 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: PG
  • Studio: Bfi
  • DVD Release Date: 5 May 2003
  • Run Time: 140 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000094P2R
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 18,082 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Reviews

Product Description

OSSESSIONE
A film by Luchino Visconti

A restless wife, Giovanna, meets Gino, a rough and handsome vagabond. Their passionate affair leads to the murder of Giovanna's boorish husband. Can a strong and sensual affair survive the guilt? Adapted from James M Cain's classic novel, Ossession is a dark and provocative drama of sexual tension. It heralded a new era of Italian cinema, establishing Luchino Visconti as a leading and controversial exponent of neo-realism.

This DVD includes a commentary by David Forgacs, professor of Italian at University College London, and Lesley Caldwell, Associate Fellow in the Italian Department at UCL.

Italy | 1942 | black & white | Italian language, English subtitles | 140 minutes | Academy ratio 1.33:1 | Region 2 DVD

Review

'A landmark in cinema history'. --The Times

'An extraordinary film - Visconti's realism is the real thing, heartfelt, believed in, far beyond fashion'. --The Spectator

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Nicholas Casley TOP 500 REVIEWER on 5 Jun. 2010
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
`Ossessione' was Visconti's first film - and what a classic he produced! He had of course learned much of his trade in the 1930s with Jean Renoir, but one is quite astounded at how masterfully he frames his shots and forges atmosphere in this film. Visconti was unquestionably a natural-born director with an eye for detail in both the technical and artistic matters of film-making. `Ossessione' is seen by some as the first of the Italian neo-realist movies with its richness to incidental detail and use of scenes and people incidental to the plot. And already Visconti is at home with large set pieces and long takes, such as the singing contest at Ancona.

The story of Gino and Giovanna's illicit affair and their murder of Giovanna's husband - a story as old as history - was filmed in the Po delta region of Italy, a flat landscape of marshes and reeds - and long causeways on which traffic passes by the hostelry run by Giovanna and her husband. On a hot summer's day, the vagabond Gino happens to drop by, setting in motion the chain of events that will lead to more than one death. This is one film where the ending is made more effective by its very inconclusiveness.

The erotic charge of the whole film is framed around Gino, and not Giovanna; indeed, we first only ever see a close-up of Gino's face through Giovanna's look of lust at first sight. This is not a gay movie, but there are - as usual with a Visconti film - strong homoerotic undertones. The character of the Spaniard, for instance, has an ambiguous sexuality, and some have seen him as Visconti's representative of the anti-Fascist. (The film was made in 1942.
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35 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Jason Parkes #1 HALL OF FAME on 6 Jun. 2005
Format: DVD
Visconti's 'Ossessione' was his debut feature, and one made during the war years that got a release as Mussolini approved of it (!) It is the defintive adaptation of James M. Cain's 'The Postman Always Rings Twice' - much better than the 40s film noir of that or the overblown take of it in the 1980s (Albert Camus' 'The Outsider'/'The Stranger' would also be influenced heavily by Cain's novel). It should be noted though, that it was an unofficial version of 'The Postman...', like 'Le Dernier Tournant' in 1939...
While films such as 'Rome, Open City' (1945, Roberto Rossellini) & 'The Bicycle Thieves' (1948, Vittorio de Sica) are cited as formative examples of the movement that would be known as 'Italian Neo-Realism', it's really 'Ossessione' that deserves that status. The use of amateur-actors (or unknowns) and the "realistic" look would be key - and lead towards those celebrated films mentioned previously.
As a debut feature, I think it's great and proves that Cain's dark-tale of adultery and murder could translate into something universal. 'Ossessione' was the start of one of the careers of one of the great European auteurs of the twentieth-century, and deserves to be seen alongside other brilliant works by Visconti such as 'The Leopard', 'Rocco and His Brothers' & 'La Terra Trema.'
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Jack on 19 July 2008
Format: DVD
A ground-breaking and spellbinding film marvelously understated and very accomplished acting from all involved. Subtle and gripping. A daring film for its time and well worth watching. A very special film.

p.s. Also worth doing some contextual reading about the making of this film.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Arbiter of Good Taste on 23 Mar. 2009
Format: DVD
This review applies to the Australian DVD on the Umbrealla World Cinema label. There's no doubting the importance or impact "Ossessione" had on Italian neo-realist cinema, but this transfer is hideous! I own over 1,000 DVDs and this is one of the worst transfers I have ever seen. Let's wait and hope that Criterion gets a chance to clean it up. Meanwhile, stay away from this sad shadow of a masterpiece.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Tim Kidner TOP 500 REVIEWER on 6 April 2012
Format: DVD
I've always enjoyed the story that spawned two Hollywood adaptations, largely laden with sex, written by James M Cain, both called The Postman Always Rings Twice'. The first film made of it was the French 'Le Dernier Tournament', in 1939.

Luchino Visconti's debut feature, here, 'Ossessione' is accredited as being the first of the Italian 'Neorealism' movement. As is widely known, Mussolini's censors banned the film and the Fascists burned the original negative. Visconti saved a print from destruction and may explain why this transfer (the only one?) looks similar to films we usually associate with those of the mid-late 1920's, it being so poor.

Not only grainy, it almost pops in and out of focus and has scratches permanently weaving over it. The film flickers with changing amounts of light. The sound isn't much better. Despite all these technical deficiencies it is always hugely watchable and ultimately enjoyable.

Unlike those two Hollywood versions, that as I said were sexed-up, Visconti's PG certificate version is a lot more innocent and stops at kissing, which is still quite daring for its time. The rest of the story is filled up to its 140 minutes with Italian life, its people and culture, all vibrantly shot and revealed and so, marks a real contrast with the U.S versions.

The three key actors, Massimo Girotti as the handsome drifter (later played by John Garfield & Jack Nicolson), Clara Calamai as the beautiful wife (later, by Lana Turner & Jessica Lange) and Juan de Landa, the husband (later Cecil Kellaway & John Colicos) - are all well cast and play their parts well.

Apparently, it was the way that the working-class were portrayed, with loose morals that upset the Fascist censors. Thank goodness this didn't put off Visconti who later went on to make some of the most noted films in Italian film history, such as The Leopard and Death In Venice.
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