Cast & Crew
Searching for a better life, Rosaria Parondi and her sons Rocco, Simone, Ciro, and Luca, arrive in Milan from their impoverished farm in southern Italy. Recently widowed, Rosaria has come uninvited to join her oldest son, Vincenzo. Although not steadily employed, Vincenzo is engaged to Ginetta, the daughter of a middle-class family, but the engagement causes a rift with Rosaria, and Vincenzo leaves Milan with his fiancée. The Parondis move into a working-class section of the city and begin to experience the difficulties of city life and the pressure of unemployment. Simone, the most ambitious of the brothers, makes a name for himself as a prizefighter and takes Nadia, a disillusioned prostitute, as his mistress; but when he becomes possessive, Nadia tires of him and leaves. Eventually, Rocco is called into military service, and one day he sees Nadia, recently released from prison; the gentleness of Rocco awakens a new hope in her, and she promises to begin a new life. Upon returning to Milan, they find that Ciro has started to work at the Alfa Romeo auto factory and is supporting the family, while Vincenzo and Ginetta have returned to the city. Simone, who has turned to petty crime, learns that Rocco and Nadia are lovers and decides to take revenge. He brutally rapes Nadia while a group of fellow hoodlums forces Rocco to watch. Blaming himself for his brother's despair, Rocco persuades Nadia to return to Simone. Rocco, unable to find employment, enters professional boxing and goes to live with Vincenzo and Ginetta. Simone, evicted from his hotel, goes back to his mother, taking Nadia with him, but Nadia has returned to her former ways, and Rosaria soon throws her out. At the depths of despair, Simone cajoles money from his brothers and cavorts with his homosexual boxing patron, whom he robs. Rocco then signs a 10-year boxing contract in order to repay Simone's patron. The same day that Rocco wins his first fight, Simone finds Nadia, and when she rejects him again, he stabs her to death. At the family celebration of Rocco's victory, Simone confesses to Nadia's murder. The family, though shocked and grief-stricken, tries to protect Simone, but Ciro turns him over to the police. Luca, the youngest brother, cannot understand this act of betrayal; Ciro, now ostracized by the family, explains that Simone was doomed and that all of them were responsible. As he leaves his little brother, Ciro hopes that Luca, the only one still uncorrupted by city life, will return to the country where the Parondis' roots still lie.
Suso Cecchi D'amico
Suso Cecchi D'amico
Franco Delli Colli
Pasquale Festa Campanile
Rocco and His Brothers
The emotional range of Rocco and His Brothers is excessive and theatrical like a Verdi opera and often plays like a modern-day Greek tragedy, particularly in its depiction of the relationship between the good son, the saint-like Rocco, and his brutal sibling, Simone, a promising boxer whose downward spiral ends in total degradation (his arrest for the brutal stabbing death of his prostitute lover, Nadia (Annie Girardot).
Visconti's original purpose in bringing Rocco and His Brothers to the screen was to create a drama with a historical and political focus, one that would address the problem of southern emigration to the northern Italian cities as well as the disintegration of the family and its traditional values. The screenplay, which went through numerous writers and drafts during pre-production, was based on a novel by Giovanni Testori but also inspired by the real lives of migrants who reside in Milan's Porta Ticinese, a sordid working-class slum. It was also heavily influenced by several great literary works - Thomas Mann's Joseph and His Brothers, Fyodor Dostoyevsky's The Idiot, and Arthur Miller's play, A View From the Bridge, which Visconti directed for the theatre in 1958 when he was planning Rocco and His Brothers.
When creating the storyline, screenwriter Suso Cecchi d'Amico recalled (in the biography, Luchino Visconti by Laurence Schifano) that the director said, "I want to do this in a sports setting, boxing, a setting where there's violence," since most Italian boxers were from the southern region. D'Amico admitted, "We spent countless hours in gymnasiums. I spent a year in them, and I don't like boxing. Gradually the subject took shape. Luchino came to my place in Castiglioncello with [screenwriter Vasco] Pratolini to talk and talk. When he talked he was a great actor. He began telling us what he'd seen in Milan, the southern emigration to Milan. Then we went to see those incredible houses where the southerners lived." Eventually, a final script emerged after several alternate subplots were rejected such as one where the brothers pooled their money to buy a lorry to transport oil between Lucania, their hometown, and Milan. A possible ending where Rocco goes mad and his mother returns to their southern village was also dropped.
Visconti was equally decisive on the casting of the film. He decided that Renato Salvatori would be ideal as Simone after witnessing the actor get into a fight with Italian star Umberto Orsini over actress Rossella Falk. "That aroused his enthusiasm," Salvatori recalled in Schifano's biography. "He kept saying: 'But you could have killed him! That's not a bad backhand you've got, not bad." Salvatori was soon enrolled in a five month training program at a gym, working out four to five hours a day. During production, Salvatori fell in love in with his co-star Annie Girardot and they married soon after the film was completed.
Visconti's most important casting decision, however, was the part of Rocco. After meeting Alain Delon in London through the actor's agent Olga Horstig, Visconti knew he had found his ideal lead. "If I'd had to take another actor," Visconti later said, "I would have refused to make the picture. Especially since he has that sadness of someone who has to force himself to hate when he fights because instinctively he's not like that."
Most of the filming of Rocco and His Brothers took place in and around Milan except for a few scenes, in particular the murder sequence which the local authorities feared would hurt the local tourist business. Instead, it was shot at Lake Fogliano in Latina. As for Visconti's relationship with his cast and crew: "Shouting matches were frequent, especially with rebels like Salvatori," according to Schifano in his Visconti biography. "One day he told Salvatori to report for make-up at seven o'clock in the morning and then kept him waiting until eight that evening...Visconti simply needed that exasperated, frantic face for a shot lasting only a few seconds. The result was even better than he had hoped for: when Salvatori was told he would have to do a retake because there had been a maverick bit of wire over the lens, he punched the wall in fury and broke his wrist - but the shot was perfect."
When Rocco and His Brothers first premiered, it attracted considerable controversy, shocking some viewers with its scenes of brutality and violence. It also became Visconti's first commercially successful film. Nevertheless, it incurred numerous censorship problems. Milan officials refused to allow the film to be shown in the city and, when Rocco and His Brothers went into general release, several scenes were considerably shortened such as the fight between the two brothers and Nadia's rape and murder. Initially a four-hour film, it was further cut to a length of less than three hours for its American release version (There was even a 95-minute version in circulation). Despite this, Rocco and His Brothers remains Visconti's most passionate film and is generally acknowledged as a continuation of the story of the Valastros family in La Terra Trema (1948), making it the second film in an uncompleted trilogy about Visconti's poor southern neighbors.
Producer: Giuseppe Bordogni, Goffredo Lombardo
Director: Luchino Visconti
Screenplay: Pasquale Festa Campanile, Suso Cecchi d'Amico, Massimo Franciosa, Enrico Medioli, Luchino Visconti
Production Design: Mario Garbuglia
Cinematography: Giuseppe Rotunno
Costume Design: Piero Tosi
Film Editing: Mario Serandrei
Original Music: Nino Rota
Principal Cast: Alain Delon (Rocco Parondi), Renato Salvatori (Simone Parondi), Annie Girardot (Nadia), Katina Paxinou (Rosaria Parondi), Max Cartier (Ciro), Spiros Focas (Vincenzo), Rocco Vidolazzi (Luca), Alessandra Panaro (Ciro's fiancee), Paolo Stoppa (Cecchi), Claudia Cardinale (Ginetta).
by Jeff Stafford
Rocco and His Brothers
Rocco and His Brothers on TV and on DVD
A REVIVAL OF VISCONTI'S NEOREALIST EPIC - ROCCO AND HIS BROTHERS
By a strange coincidence, Rocco and His Brothers (1960), directed by Luchino Visconti, is receiving widespread exposure through several different venues this summer. First, it is being aired on Turner Classic Movies on Friday, June 21 at 3:30 am ET so set your video recorders now. It is also being re-released theatrically by Milestone Pictures in a completely new 35mm print (the original uncut version with a running time of 180 minutes) that will play the Film Forum theatre in New York City from July 5 -11. But for those of you who don't receive TCM or won't be able to catch the film in its New York engagement, there's also good news. Rocco and His Brothers is now available on DVD from Image Entertainment and is presented in the original Italian language version with optional English subtitles.
Arriving at the end of the neorealism movement in Italian cinema, Rocco and His Brothers was Luchino Visconti's most ambitious production to date and a personal favorite among his many films. Recounting the tale of a widow, Rosaria Parondi (Katina Paxinou), and her five sons - Rocco (Alain Delon), Simone (Renato Salvatori), Ciro (Max Cartier), Luca (Rocco Vidolazzi) and Vincenzo (Spiros Focas), Visconti paints a sprawling canvas that tells several stories. At the center is the Parondi family, poor Italians from the south who have moved north to Milan in search of a better life. As they adapt to new jobs and relationships, these simple country people are inevitably corrupted by the city.
The emotional range of Rocco and His Brothers is excessive and theatrical like a Verdi opera and often plays like a modern-day Greek tragedy, particularly in its depiction of the relationship between the good son, the saint-like Rocco, and his brutal sibling, Simone, a promising boxer whose downward spiral ends in total degradation (He is arrested for the brutal stabbing death of his prostitute lover, Nadia (Annie Girardot).
Visconti's original purpose in bringing Rocco and His Brothers to the screen was to create a drama with a historical and political focus, one that would address the problem of southern emigration to the northern Italian cities as well as the disintegration of the family and its traditional values. When the movie first premiered, it attracted considerable controversy, shocking some viewers with its scenes of brutality and violence. It also became Visconti's first commercially successful film. Nevertheless, it incurred numerous censorship problems. Milan officials refused to allow the film to be shown in the city and, when Rocco and His Brothers went into general release, several scenes were considerably shortened such as the fight between the two brothers and Nadia's rape and murder. Initially a four-hour film, it was further cut to a length of less than three hours for its American release version (There was even a 95 minute version in circulation). Despite this, Rocco and His Brothers remains Visconti's most passionate film and is generally acknowledged as a continuation of the story of the Valastros family in La Terra Trema (1948), making it the second film in an uncompleted trilogy about Visconti's poor southern neighbors.
The Image DVD of Rocco and His Brothers is a perfectly acceptable presentation of this often overlooked masterpiece from Visconti. It is showcased in the anamorphic widescreen format (1:66:1) with a Dolby digital mono track, easy-to-read subtitles and a 20-chapter menu selection. Unfortunately, the main menu navigation is rather difficult to read and there are some discrepancies over the running time. The Image DVD states a running time of 168 minutes though the print being aired on TCM and at the Film Forum in July lists a running time of 180 minutes. Also, there are minor speckles and print scratches visable at times but overall the DVD visual presentation is crisp and the black and white levels are well balanced. There are no extras on the disk but Visconti fans won't care since the image quality is preferable to any previous VHS release version.
For more information on Rocco and His Brothers, visit the distributor's web site at Image Entertainment, Inc.. To purchase a copy of Rocco and His Brothers, visit Movies Unlimited.
By Jeff Stafford
Rocco and His Brothers on TV and on DVD
Filmed on location in Milan and Rome. Opened in Rome in October 1960 as Rocco e i suoi fratelli; running time: 180 min; in Paris in March 1961 as Rocco et ses frères; running time: 165 min. One French source lists a 120 min version. Cocinor, a French production company affiliated with Marceau, is credited as co-producer in French sources.
Voted One of the Year's Ten Best Films by the 1961 New York Times FIilm Critics.
Winner of the Silver Prize and the International Critics Prize at the 1960 Venice Film Festival.
Released in United States 1960
Released in United States 1991
Released in United States Summer June 27, 1961
Re-released in United States April 29, 1992
Re-released in United States January 24, 1992
Re-released in United States July 5, 2002
Shown at London Film Festival Winter 1960.
Shown at New York Film Festival September 20-October 6, 1991.
Shown at the 1960 Venice Film Festival.
Formerly distributed by Astor Picture.
Formerly distributed by Regal-International.
Began shooting February 22, 1960.
Completed shooting June 4, 1960.
Film was restored by the British Film Institute.
Re-released in London October 26, 1990.
Released in United States 1960 (Shown at London Film Festival Winter 1960.)
Released in United States 1960 (Shown at the 1960 Venice Film Festival.)
Released in United States 1991 (Shown at New York Film Festival September 20-October 6, 1991.)
Re-released in United States January 24, 1992 (original 182 mins version; New York City)
Re-released in United States April 29, 1992 (original 182 mins version; Los Angeles)
Released in United States Summer June 27, 1961
Re-released in United States July 5, 2002 (Film Forum; New York City)