Cristo Si E' Fermato A Eboli
DVD quality: I have just received this Director-approved restored version [NB: Cecci Gori release] from an Italian supplier (Little Music Shop - most helpful and knowledgeable) via Amazon - first class picture and sound quality (with a haunting score) with excellent English subtitling (not on the extras, sadly). (I bought the Kino release years ago and found the image quality very disappointing and gave it away without watching it in total. Maybe it is better now).
I have finally found a release well worth having in my opinion, albeit not 1.33:1 so top and bottom cropped with slight black vertical bars and 145 min runtime (originally 214 min and 1.33:1 on the TV four-episode release - only available on Artificial Eye VHS). That apart it is such a well-portrayed [autobiographical] story /direction / acting / location that it is a joy, nonetheless.
Set in rural Southern Italy from 1935-37 it gives great political insight into attitudes of and to the Peasantry and the values of the provincial Fascists and bourgeoisie. There is so much humanity and some natural comedy as the groups (bourgeois vs peasants) clash. Wonderful touching insights into the esteem in which the poor held the USA, which to them was closer than Rome. Instructive historical insight into past struggles from Levi's researches. Illuminating pompous, specious nonsense lectures from the local Fascist Mayor were borne with dignified, amused patience.
Carlo Levi was educated as a Doctor but had not qualified to practice before being politically exiled. His natural humanitarian stance led him to understand the poor, their history and inextricable fate. He looked after their health interests despite being ordered not to and gained their deep respect, despite being both an outsider and of the middle class; a very wise and sensitive man. He states his feeling of guilt at not feeling able to keep his promise to return and visit them after his release from exile.
I recommend the autobiographical book of the same title:Christ Stopped at Eboli (Penguin Modern Classics)
A very interesting, entertaining, absorbing and moving story based on the author's actual experience; a marvellous piece of cinema and is definitely in my personal top ten DVDs.