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Il Grido [Masters of Cinema] [DVD] 
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A cinematic "cry" from one of the most revered of all auteurs, Italian maestro Michelangelo Antonioni (L'avventura, La notte, Il deserto rosso) depicts a world of heartbreaking alienation, with characters riven by trauma, cast against the stunning backdrop of northern Italy's Po Valley where the director spent his childhood. When sugar refinery worker Aldo (American actor Steve Cochran in a career-best performance) is jilted by his mistress, Irma (Alida Valli, famed for her role in The Third Man), he takes to the road. With daughter in tow, Aldo wanders the Po River delta, seeking temporary but always illusory respite with a series of lovers, who only serve to remind him of Irma. Unable to find a new life, Aldo's haunted past gives way to a fateful finale. With a script conceived by Antonioni, exquisite cinematography (including a signature concern with desolate vistas), and a plaintive score by renowned composer Giovanni Fusco, the award-winning Il grido which scooped the "Golden Leopard" at Locarno is an early key work in the director's much-celebrated oeuvre. The Masters of Cinema Series is proud to present Il grido for home viewing in the UK for the very first time. ----SPECIAL FEATURES---- *New high-definition transfer of the film in its original aspect ratio *Newly translated optional English subtitles *Original 1957 Italian theatrical trailer *Previously unseen footage deleted *56-page booklet featuring a colour reproduction of the original Italian poster, archival publicity stills, an essay by William Arrowsmith (Antonioni: The Poet of Images), and writing and interviews from Michelangelo Antonioni
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It is an extremely atmospheric film, which plays out against the most barren of landscapes. Leafless trees and foggy skies are used in a very symbolic way, as the film's characters suffer with their bleak, hopeless situations. On the one hand, it plays like a snapshot of fifties life in rural Italy....... the Emilio Romagna region, in fact. (Much like "Blow Out" shows us London in the swinging sixties and "Zabriskie Point" crystallises a hippy era Los Angeles.) On the other hand, this film manages to feel amazingly relevant, in its depiction of people being left behind by a changing world.
There are scenes where the modern world encroaches like the motor-boat race(cf rockets in La Notte).Irma(Alida Valli), with whom he's been for 7 years,while her husband is working in Australia,offered him the richest relationship and by whom he's had a daughter,needs him the least.Elvia,his ex needs him emotionally,but takes more than she gives.As he travels on the relationships grow more physical.Virginia(Dorian Gray),the voluptuous,sensual widow who runs the roadside petrol station.She puts her father,wayward and anarchic like Aldo's Rosina,into a home and demands he sends Rosina back home on a bus.This he does in one of the most heart-breaking scenes,but due to his depression,he realizes Virginia is not the answer.He moves onto Adreina(Lyn Shaw)at the lowest level of society living in a leaking shack as a prostitute,their relationship is primarily sexual,Aldo works on a Po fishingdredger, on a river given to flooding.Without the get-up-and-go she wants,Aldo can't see a long-term life and takes off back to Irma via Victoria,where he picks up a suitcase and the fact Irma had sent a postcard about Rosina.
When he finally returns home, he is more despairing than before. Irma has a new man and a new child, while his former colleagues are on strike in protest against the arrival of an American base nearby.People are protesting at the government expropriation of their land to build an airport.Aldo runs up the tower,which is where the filmbegan, where he used to like to look down from the top of the refinery tower and survey his work area and the surrounding town. He could even see his own dwelling from that height.But with the chaos below and his loss of bearings,he suffers vertigo and falls to his death.The last shot of Irma over Aldo taken vertically from the tower.The uncanny technological presence contributes to the post-human co-ordinates of the final scene.There are lots of panning shots and symbolically trees being pulled down and the use of high horizons,highlighting the increasingly erratic movements of the child,a cipher seen without sentimentality.The film highlights the emasculation of the working man,the isolation and failure to communicate,the dehumanising encroachment of modernism,the piano-based musical score further accentuates the interior,loneliness of the landscape settings. English speakers are dubbed,even Monica Vitti is dubbed over Dorian Gray.Cochran was never better.
It took awhile to get used to watching American B-actor Steve Cochran dubbed, but I was eased past it for the simple reason that he is just about perfect as an Italian man humiliated when his lover (and mother of his daughter) leaves him. He takes his daughter and hits the road -- on foot -- with no goal in mind. Certainly, it isn't to find a woman, altho he keeps running into lonely, yearning woman that he just can't seem to focus romantically on. One woman is played by American Betsy Blair (also dubbed). Another is played by a now unknown actress Lynn Shaw who was tantalizingly beautiful (internet research has inconclusively determined that she's British -- regardless -- whatever happened to her?!).
This is a black & white film by Michangelo Antonioni whose team gives the gritty visuals a lyrical beauty. And it includes some fine work by Italian actors -- especially the actress named, believe it or not, Dorian Gray. Altho Alida Valli's name is high in the cast, she has just a supporting part in the vital role of the woman who betrays him.
This is a fascinating look at another culture in another era -- but with drama that feels universal.
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Black and white photography and locations very realistic.Read more
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