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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Classic but overlong
This film in its uncut version is 315 minutes long. That means the equivalent of watching both Godfather 1 and 2. For the first and perhaps only time, two giants of modern cinema were reunited namely De Niro and Depardieu. Coupled with the direction of Bertolucci, this is indeed a visual masterpiece which would have been better portrayed aa a mini series rather than a twp...
Published on 24 May 2007 by Jay

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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Bertolucci's flawed epic... certainly worth experiencing.
1900 was director Bernardo Bertolucci follow up to the Italian masterpiece, The Conformist, and his legendary work, The Last Tango in Paris. Like Michael Cimmino's similarly flawed-epic, Heaven's Gate, it shows what happens when an acclaimed director gets control of the ultimate cast and an unlimited budget, and is allowed to go over-schedule on a sprawling personal...
Published on 29 Feb 2008 by Jonathan James Romley


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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Bertolucci's flawed epic... certainly worth experiencing., 29 Feb 2008
1900 was director Bernardo Bertolucci follow up to the Italian masterpiece, The Conformist, and his legendary work, The Last Tango in Paris. Like Michael Cimmino's similarly flawed-epic, Heaven's Gate, it shows what happens when an acclaimed director gets control of the ultimate cast and an unlimited budget, and is allowed to go over-schedule on a sprawling personal project, without the interference of the studios. As a result of this, 1900 is a deeply flawed film, really falling apart somewhere towards the end and to some extent, slipping away from Bertolucci's grasp as a result of the sheer epic scale of the project. The story begins in the year 1901, on the day of Verdi's death. As the people mourn, the backdrop to the story finds two boys born on the same day - the first boy, Alfredo, is the son of a wealthy landowner... the second boy, Olmo, is the bastard son of a farm labourer - as the story progresses, the two boys become central to the ultimate story, developing a strong friendship that will play-out against a backdrop of war, socialism and the rise of the Fascist party in early twentieth-century Italy. Bertolucci confuses matters further by having the film begin during the 1945 Liberation Day; using this pivotal moment as a framing device to launch into his epic back-story, only to emerge at the end of the story some many years in the future.

The story isn't quite as confusing as it sounds, with the director anchoring the story throughout to the characters of Olmo and Alfredo. In the early scenes, we see the two boys living an idyllic "Huckleberry Finn" style existence, catching frogs, play-fighting, testing each other's bravery with a series of dares... whilst, all the while, succumbing to the lifestyle of their respective families. This will eventually, to some extent, tear the two friends apart, as the hard working Olmo sides with the communists whilst Alfredo, torn by loyalty and greed, allows the fascists to operate on his land. As you would expect from an epic, the film introduced lots of background characters, with the film taking in three generations of Italian history over the course of its vast, five-hour running time. Some of the history of the film is glossed over... with Bertolucci falling into an uneasy habit of switching between oblique, allegorical metaphors (the use of different animals to act as a symbol for each type of character, for example; the socialists as cats, head butted to death by the fascists who are portrayed as pigs, bloated, self-righteous beasts there to be gutted by the labourers) and almost bludgeoning political ideologies (the penultimate speech from Olmo is delivered literally to camera). Also, we're never really sure of whom we're supposed to be rooting for; clearly, Bertolucci wants us to side with the socialists, but they come across as spineless cowards who can only afflict revenge on the fascists and the landowners once they have been stripped of all their power. For the most part, the socialists wander around singing songs to each other, never once trying to convince us of their suffering, whilst Bertolucci seemingly thinks that if he makes them dirty enough, or ugly enough, we'll feel sympathy for them regardless. It doesn't quite work.

However, despite these flaws, the film is still (as many other critics have also noted) a monumental achievement. This is an epic in the classic sense, recalling films like The Godfather and Visconti's The Leopard (Burt Lancaster plays a role here that is very similar to the role of Don Fabrizio Salina, which he played in that particular film). It's also very similar to that other flawed Italian filmmaker's epic, Once Upon A Time in America, with both films employing the use of a flash-back/framing devise, as well as a thematic scope that covers a similar period in history (albeit, this is about Italy rather than America). Like Leone's film, 1900 is vast and sprawling, though anchored to two characters (who are best friends since childhood) and their personal relationships (...whilst, superficially, they both feature Robert DeNiro). Like Once Upon A Time... 1900 is a very brutal and confrontational film, with many violent sequences and scenes of outrageous sexuality. The version that I have (the one shown on Film Four) is as close to uncut as can be shown in this county (only one shot, the one in which the young Alfredo plays with himself in order to achieve an erection, was digitally darkened around the genital areas so that nothing could be seen); with Bertolucci taking almost every scene and characterisation completely over the top. This method is most apparent with the character of Attila, the lead-fascist in the film, who, in one of his earliest appearances, ties a kitten to the wall and then head buts it. This prefigures a later scene, in which Bertolucci implies that Attila has raped a small boy, only for Attila to then pick the child up by the ankles and swing him around the room until his skull shatters against a post.

Some of the performances in the film are very strong, particularly DeNiro as Alfredo, Gérard Depardieu as Olmo, Dominique Sanda as Ada, Sterling Hayden as Olmo's grandpa Leo, Burt Lancaster as the patriarch Berlinghieri and Donald Sutherland as the snarling "villain" Attila, whilst that gorgeous cinematography from Vittorio Storaro is just exquisite (...the camera always moving, blocking, tracking, revealing, swooping around the characters with the most gorgeous colours imaginable). It's easily one of the most beautiful films ever made, adding to the epic nature of the story and the feelings evoked through Ennio Morricone's great score. 1900 might not be the greatest film ever made, but I feel that it is an important film, both in terms of style and ambition. It's a definite flawed masterpiece, with a great cast and a talented director at the height of their creative prowess. As both an outrageous, overblown melodrama and as a political allegory/treatise on loyalty and friendship, it's worth looking out for and is an interesting relic to one of the most-important eras of cinema history.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A magnificent Marxist soap opera with moments of greatness, 5 Dec 2006
By 
Trevor Willsmer (London, England) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
1900 is a mixture of the good, the bad and the ugly of Italian cinema. Bertolucci's defiantly left wing political epic at times plays like a Sidney Sheldon doorstop novel as written by a disciple of Karl Marx, has a laughable first hour and some performances that are so far over the top they've circumnavigate the globe and come back again. Yet it also has moments of genuine power, a sweeping ambition to it and is one of the most beautifully photographed films ever made due to Vittorio Storaro's wondrous combination of natural light, backlighting and the `magic hour' as the situation demands. Ennio Morricone's score is consistently one of his best as well, ensuring that the film sounds as good as it looks.

Chief debit is Burt Lancaster's senile padrone, hanging himself because he can't even get the erection he needs to rape the child of one of his employees: no gattapardo he. Donald Sutherland's socially mobile foreman-turned-fascist thug veers between plus and minus - it's a broad performance, as you'd expect from a character whose idea of political debate is to head butt a kitten to death (it's an extremely tough film on animals: the kitten's death may be faked but none of the other animal killings are), although there are moments that ring true in the latter section.

It's an interesting experiment to try to gauge the actors original intent by flitting between the various soundtracks on the extras-free but uncut European DVD - the preferred English soundtrack gives you De Niro, Sutherland, Lancaster, Stirling Hayden and Dominique Sanda talking for themselves, the French offers Depardieu's voice while the Italian gives you more natural vocalisation for the majority of the smaller parts, as does the German.

Ultimately it doesn't amount to much - the basic thesis can be reduced to "Fascism, socialism - huh. Both as bad as each other," with paradise postponed once again at the very moment of liberation and the status quo more or less restored for the rest of the century. But there's a side of me that can't help thinking that for the most part it's a movie about peasants' rights made by a group of people who are now multi-millionaires who'll make almost anything if you write them a big enough cheque...
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Classic but overlong, 24 May 2007
This film in its uncut version is 315 minutes long. That means the equivalent of watching both Godfather 1 and 2. For the first and perhaps only time, two giants of modern cinema were reunited namely De Niro and Depardieu. Coupled with the direction of Bertolucci, this is indeed a visual masterpiece which would have been better portrayed aa a mini series rather than a twp part film. Thee are times when the action just meanders and if you understand Italian, then you have an advantage whereas the dubbed version is at best tacky.

A too much long but beautiful movie, showing the political changes in Italy in the Twentieth Century. These changes are presented and reflected through the friendship of Alfredo (Robert De Niro) and Olmo (Gerard Depardieau), from the end of World War I to the end of World War II, from the ascent of the Fascism to its decline and the ascent of the Socialism. Alfred and Olmo were born in the same day and in the same place, landowner and peasant respectively. As far as they grow up, Bertolucci presents the changes in the political scenario in Italy, affecting the relationship between these two friends. The film is a little exhaustive, but it deserves to be watched more than one time. Recommended to viewers who like European movies and particularly Italian history and Bertolucci.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Great film but MGM DVD is very poor, 17 Aug 2008
By 
Robert (St. Neots, Cambs, ENGLAND United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
The MGM DVD (with brown tinted cover) is a poor, blurred release with a heavily cut opening credit sequence. Released in Australia, Switzerland and France in 2005, it was the first attempt made for a DVD release in the English language. The Paramount Region 1 DVD available from amazon.com is the very best, and also the 20th Century Fox DVD, virtually the same as the Paramount print and available from amazon.co.uk is just as good. Don't waste time or money on the MGM DVD.
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35 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best film I have ever seen., 2 Feb 2006
By A Customer
I can't understand why this film is almost unknown in the UK. It's my favorite one. Social history and personal history are presented brilliantly through the development of a friendship in the first half of the 20th century in Italy.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Deeply flawed, but also quite amazing, 11 July 2012
By 
K. Gordon - See all my reviews
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So flawed that I almost feel weird giving it this high a rating. But
two viewings of this somewhat bloated 5 hour plus film left me feeling
the same way; The film is over-simplistic in its characters and
politics, badly dubbed (with actors from all over speaking their own
language, so whatever soundtrack you pick there are important
characters who sound like something out of 'What's Up Tiger Lily'), and
even the English spoken by DeNiro seems post- recorded, making for an
oddly stiff sounding performance.

Yet for all these complaints it is somehow a near-great film. There are
so many moments; images, incidents that are indelible, and in the end
there's such a real emotional punch to this overview of the history of
Italy from 1900 to 1945 as seem through the lives of a few people in a
small town that it overcomes many of the flaws.

I couldn't defend the film from anyone who wanted to tear it down -
e.g. the simple-minded jingoistic endless competition between fascism
and communism as if those were the only two options in the world, with
both sides reduced to cartoon like figures of evil and good.

But it's strengths are strong enough that I'd urge people to judge for
themselves. You may find, like me, that all the flaws don't matter to
you when a film has so many unforgettable moments.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well pleased, 27 Nov 2011
By 
Eric Stuart Longley (Berkshire United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: 1900 [DVD] [1976] [Region 1] [NTSC] (DVD)
Did what it said on the lable can not ask for more, well happy with product and time it took to get to me
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars GENIUS OR POLITICAL PASTICHE, 17 July 2008
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flawed,political pastiche or genius ?the answer is if you like to see a very detailed ,slow paced movie which is a realist look at 70 years of italian history then this for you but it is not a spectacular entertainment like lawrence of arabia or dr.zhivago ,bertolocci has an entirely different style but a unique flare to make politically humane dramas with a touch of satire and he is a master at his art .

This fascinating and extra-ordinarily ambitious account of the 3 generations of a pederoni[landowner]family and an equivocal comparison with a family of peasants they own is a real riddle ,as it is swathed in a mystery of whether bertolucci is actually making a travesty of all political ideologies versus the existence of human life or is he actually preaching for a cause,

The final reels are a conundrum as thet are a tavesty of the imperial and socialist ideas and it is left to the viewer by this genius maker to infer , the earlier half is an intro to tfeudal italy -could be anywhere in the globe,as the behavioural dynamics of humanity are so alike,burt is superb as the enigmatic ,eccentric pedroni who treats his tenants as equals and his grandson befriends a peasant boy olmo,the account of the 2 boys born on the same day constitutes this mammoth movie,

Deniro is a really androgynous,aristocrat as he is both ambivalent in awe of his peasant friend, played by depardieu,who virtually dominates every frame he is in ,their friendship goes from lying as kids under locomotors to sharing an epileptic prostitute in bed ,

deniro is deserted by a belligerently confused sandra as a woman wonder who loses her virginity in a barn on a haystach,

olmo too desrts the estate after his open confrontation with sutherland ,who plays the fascist clone with his mistress-the murder of a child on the eve of the aristocratic wedding is superbly horrifying with the innocent olmo being blamed for it ,

it remains a sarcastic comment on the human nature itself ,the short-lived human obsession with ideas of justice and equality is being examined with the suggestion that nothing really changes despite the strife of the vicarious class driven causes and the movie suceeds in becoming almost a euphemistic celebration of fate itself ,that might be a failure in itself but it is a grand failure, as the failure of the movie to give any definitive finale to it's great vistas and montages filmed immacultely -this aspires to become a masteract but becomes a paradigm in itself relating it's characters ,yet it suceeds as much as it fails,but examining the body of work by bertolucci you can say -he was contriving a deliberate farce in this movie to provoke his critics or just to irritate the viewer,with full frontal nudity of both male leads as well as the shocking slaughter of a cat and a child ,he definitely suceeds in his motives as those visions along with the innocence of childhood spent in a rural vineyard with a frindship that blossoms like a wondrous flower are eternal ,as are the peasants ploughing the ageless fields .

unmissable whether you agree or disagree with whatever it is trying to say politically as it is extremely rich if a bewildering human drama as well
.
THE DVD HAS A FEW FEATURES WHICH MAKE IT A MUST HAVE LIKE MULTIPLE AUDIO TRACKS AND THE ENTIRE ORIGONAL LENGTH OF THE FIRST CUT .
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A superb, epic film, 4 Dec 2006
By 
robertsmike (Oxfordshire, England) - See all my reviews
I saw this film quite a few years ago, and i remember being swept away by the sheer beauty and scope of it. At the time i didn't know that many of the European stars, the main reason i watched it was for Robert De Niro and Donald Sutherland. Now of course it's chock full of people i really love, like the great Stefania Sandrelli, not to mention, Dominique Sanda and Alida Valli.

However for me having seen it again recently, it's the joy of seeing three of my all time favourite actors right at their peak, De Niro, Sutherland & the wonderful Gerard Depardieu.

Bernardo Bertoluuci's films often leave me a bit cold, they of course are fantastically well made, brilliantly acted and usually very epic, or complex, but often they can i be just a little pretentious or long-winded, even a bit boring..but not so here, the story of the contrasting families and at the same time the rise of Fascism in Italy is fascinating.

If you like epics, are interested in Italy and it's early 20th Century politics, or just love a really great big film to become lost in, then do recommend you to see it.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A beautiful & well told story that describes the relationship between ..., 11 Sep 2014
A beautiful & well told story that describes the relationship between 2 peasant & landowning families over 3 generations. Visually appealing & with historically accurate background. Enjoyable AND educational.
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1900 [DVD] [1976] [Region 1] [NTSC]
1900 [DVD] [1976] [Region 1] [NTSC] by Bernardo Bertolucci (DVD - 2006)
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