Rocco and His Brothers (1960) Poster

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WOW! Terrific Epic Scale Family Drama, Visconti's Best!
antonio-217 September 2000
Now I understand why Visconti regards this classic as his personal favorite!!

Overwhelmingly Terrific! The acting, design, music, cinematography, and especially direction are superb.

This epic, grand, personal, and highly dramatic tale of five brothers and their mother who move from Southern Italy to Milan to change their station in life is filled with wonderful vignettes and powerful set pieces.

The fight between two of the brothers in the slums of the city is one of the most harrowing and touching scenes ever in cinema history. This is the kind of fight which actually means something. When they hit each other you feel it down to the core of your being, not just watching mindless brutality like you would in some brainless movie.

The cast is uniformly good with standouts from Katina Paxinou as the long suffering mother, Annie Girardot as the doomed prostitute who is the catalyst of the story, and especially Alain Delon who is blessed with a cinematic beauty which adds poetry to everyone of his close-ups. The one actor who really surprised me was Renato Salvatori as the violent brother Simone. His gradual and completely believable change from sweet young man to violent brute is incredible to watch.

This film satisfies every true movie lovers dream. To visit a place you don't know, with characters who fascinate you, and are framed in a true CINEMATIC style, that succeeds on every level.

GO SEE THIS MOVIE!! I will add my voice to those who cry out for the DVD release of this true classic.
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Visconti's masterpiece
irajoel2 April 2001
Warning: Spoilers
This primo example of Italian neo-realism directed by Luchino Visconti is one of those films that people either love or hate, there really is no in between when it comes to this film. I think it magnificent, and I've seen it 3 or 4 times. The last viewing was last fall at the Film Forum in New York City, and once again I was knocked out by it. The plot is simple, a poor family headed by the mother moves to the big city to try to make a better life for her and her sons. Katina Paxinou plays the mama mia in a larger than life performance that at times knocks you out of your seat. The film is divided into sections with each one devoted to one of the brothers, but the thrust (and heart) of the narrative concerns two of the brothers, Rocco played by a never better nor more beautiful Alain Delon & his intense love-hate relationship with his brother played by Renato Salvatori who also gives a superb performance. The other great performance in the film is from Annie Girardot as a prostitute with a semi-heart of gold. Girardot first has a vivid & difficult relationship with Salvatori who is a brutal & simple prize fighter, but then she drops him, when she falls in love with Delon. Needless to say trouble and high operatic drama follows that finally ends in tragedy that never fails to leave me in tears. Both soapy & operatic, this is one of the great films of the 60's & one of Visconti's best. Also look for a young Claudia Cardinale in an early film role.
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A GREAT FILM from ITALY (1960)
olddiscs23 February 2002
This is a great Italian film directed by Visconti, which somehow escaped me until tonite 2/22/02.. I had heard about it and the praise it received at that time, (1960) but just never got to see it. I was seeing Foreign films at that time, I remember seeing La Dolce Vita, The Virgin Spring, and Hiroshima Mon Amour at our local foreign movie theatre in Essex County , The Ormont in East Orange.. long gone.. but missed this. Well, thanks to TCM, Ive had another sleepless night & have just seen a truly great Italian movie/ or great movie, period!!..What a saga ! what passion, what emotion !! The story of a southern Italian peasant family's journey and relocation to the big city... is just superb film making..The deterioration of the brothers relationship is almost pure GreeK Tragedy (there is a glimmer of hope with the youngest brother)...superbly acted especially by Renato Salvatori, as Simon, the most troubled of all the fratelli, and young, beautiful, Alain Delon as the younger brother Rocco who desperately tries to save his brother from destruction; and Annie Giradot, as Nadia the prostitute who adds to this families woes is just sensational in a role that should have won her all kinds of trophies. It was no mistake that Visconti used Greek Oscar winning actress, Katina Paxinou, in the role of an Italian mother( instead of say, Anna Magnani ?), her performance brings to mind all the heroines of Sophocles & Aesculus... yes tragedy and emotion of epic proportions..played to the nth degree... beautiful cast excellently directed... by Viscont1... thanks to TCM Im catching up on his great movies "SENSO" a few months back and now "Rocco" this is a treat.. also in cast a very young beautiful Claudia Cardinale as Ginetta.. This is film making at its best..dont miss it.. to be seen again and again..
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Renato Salvatori shines in Visconti's masterpiece
braugen2 April 2003
The Italian master Luchino Visconti's 1960 (melo)drama "Rocco e i Suoi Fratelli" is the best film I've seen in a long, long time, and it deserves to be up there among European cinema's finest achievements, along with Visconti's other masterpiece, "Il Gattopardo" (1963).

Aristocrat turned communist, Visconti draws a beautiful, but horrible picture of Milan in the 1960s, when the "immigration" from the South was at its peek, and the social problems in Northern Italy exploded. The differences between north and south in Italy are enormous, and were perhaps even greater back when Visconti and his scriptwriting crew decided to make a contemporary film about a family moving northwards. Visconti wanted to make a film about a mother and her five sons, like the five fingers on her hand, like the mother herself exclaimes at the end of the film. This is not an agitational film, though, just a superbly acted study of a society in disorder and a portrait of a family trying to make ends meet in a harsh world they do not know. Like another Italian director, Pier Paolo Pasolini, noted, the South of Italy stayed an undeveloped land even after the North became industrialized, and that didn't happen before after WWII. This is the grim truth, and the person who thought this film was depressing should just stay on his or her pills and turn his or her eyes towards the real world, because the world IS a depressing place. You just cannot blame directors with a social conscience for trying to tell a story which lies close to their hearts, then you should stay away from film criticism and criticize the world instead. I am so tired of that.

Renato Salvatori makes a performance of a lifetime as the troubled brother Simone, while Alain Delon stays calm and controlled as Rocco, the protagonist, if there is one. Boxing is used as a metaphor for the anger the young men feel, but when Simone fails, Rocco succeeds by fueling his fighting with the contempt for his brother's actions. The two brothers are torn between the beautiful prostitute Nadia, whom they both love passionately, but she only loves Rocco- and that almost breaks the family. The other brothers are more supporting characters, and even though the film is long it should have been even longer- the second youngest brother, Ciro, is an interesting and morally strong character that I would have loved to see developed further. The pride, ignorance, hatred, loyalty and love of these people are held together by a perfect script by Visconti and his four collaborators, and cinema's finest cinematographer, Guiseppe Rotunno, moves his camera magnificently through the streets, houses, and locales of a growing, but morally decaying Milan.

This is cinematic perfection.
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stunning neorrealism
Bocio6 June 2000
Visconti at his peak. We are in the fifties, when Italian economy experiences a post-war boom. A Sicilian family arrives to Milan running from south's poverty. They dream with a new life at the industrial pole of the north. But Milan is not precisely a land of opportunities. Exploitation and xenophobia is the common destiny for those who came from south of the country. This film is a perfect sequel to "La Terra Tembla", one of the earliest Visconti's looks on Marxism. The hopes and lives of this five brother's family sink onto a pit at the same time as they destroy themselves. "Rocco and ..." is intensely played by the entire cast, including a young and delicate Alain Delon as the idealistic Rocco, an exquisite Annie Girardot as a prostitute trying to survive to her own hell and a terrific Renato Salvatori. But is the figure of the peasant mother, played superbly by Katina Paxinou, the most remarkable piece of this operatic story. Claudia Cardinale made some kind of Italian debut in this film. Nino Rota composes his most pitiful score and the black and white photography is stunning. The scene at the rooftop of Milan's Duomo is one of my all-time favorites. The American version is usually cut so try to find the original or some DVD restoration. A must see film.
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An astonishing work of almost religious intensity
YouRebelScum22 April 2003
I was lucky enough to catch this extraordinary film late last night on a cable channel. It's about a widow from southern Italy who moves to Milan with her five sons. Gradually they become embroiled in the big city, some becoming corrupted by its ways, others profiting. Rocco, played by Alain Delon, is an innocent, looking at his brothers and life in general with saintly patience. When his beneficent attitude comes under pressure, he doesn't give in to self-interest, choosing to sacrifice his own happiness, and that of the woman he loves, for his family. Family is really what 'Rocco and his Brothers' is all about. I've never got into Visconti, but seeing this film has made me want to see more of his work. Also, this move has one of the most powerful images I've ever seen, as the maddened Simone advances towards the doomed prostitute Nadia. It's an image so remarkable I actually shouted aloud when I saw it. I urge you to see this film. It's a remarkable, passionate, beautifully photographed drama that will stay with you for a long time.
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Thank God for Italy...
mido50518 June 2006
Although the French Nouvelle Vague gets all the press, it is the Italian neorealist movement that has had the greatest impact on American cinema. Let's face it, aside from some of Godard's editing tricks in Breathless, what kind of influence did the Nouvelle Vague really have? Godard. Truffaut. Chabrol. Rohmer. Rivette. Resnais. Decent filmmakers all, but, when one looks closely, more interesting for their influences than for their influence. But the Italians, oh, the Italians. Bava. Fellini. Rossellini. De Sica. Bertolucci. Visconti. I think it is safe to say that, without the films of these incredible innovators, American movies would have rotted away into nothing. It was the post WWII Italian neorealist movement, and its heady brew of Marxism and melodrama, that inflamed the imaginations of filmmakers like Francis Ford Coppola and Martin Scorsese, and led them, especially in Coppola's case, to use many of the same personnel on their own productions. Vittorio Storaro. Giuseppe Rotunno. Nino Rota. Ferdinando Scarfiotti. Danilo Donati. Where would the great American films of the seventies be without the contributions of these astoundingly talented artists and technicians?

Rocco and His Brothers is a jaw-dropping work, so ferociously brilliant that it takes your breath away. As a Visconti fan, I have been waiting to watch it for years. Yet, despite my eagerness, the DVD sat on top of the television for two weeks before I finally popped it in. Curiously, I had the same reaction to The Leopard, another Visconti masterwork, a couple of years ago. As I get older, I find it harder and harder to abandon myself to a work of art. Great works of art force one to give oneself over to them completely, suspend judgment, accept them unconditionally. When one is young and unformed, the process is easy; as one gets older, and the carapace of personality hardens, the process becomes more difficult. There is a good reason for this; the effort is often not worth while; one comes out of the experience diminished, drained, let down.

Rocco and His Brothers holds no such disappointment. It is a vast, capacious work, complex, generous, passionate, and intensely moving. The talent on display here defies analysis: Alain Delon is luminous as the saintly Rocco; Katina Paxinou achieves Shakespearean grandeur as the Parondi family matriarch; Giuseppe Rotunno's cinematography is starkly beautiful; and Nino Rota's music is heartbreaking. I do not want to give too much of this film away, but I must point out that, contrary to what some reviews on this site have to say, this film is not just about the corruption that big city life brings to a peasant family. Rocco may be a saint, but his all-forgiving nature drives much of the tragedy that unfolds. It is Ciro, the compassionate but just brother, and successful entrant into Milan's urban proletariat, who will lead the family into an uncertain but perhaps hopeful future.

Let me just finish by pointing out how wonderful it is to see a movie that ends with a meaningful and distinctive final shot. You don't see much of that anymore.
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Brilliant beyond belief
bernebner5 July 2002
Warning: Spoilers
I can't imagine Visconti surpassing this 1960 175-minute masterpiece (censored when shown in USA originally, now available complete on DVD). The triple threat Visconti (producer, co-screenwriter, director) pours all his passion in this epic tale of widowed Katina Paxinou leaving her poverty filled life in Southern Italy with family in tow for the big city life of Milan, hoping to better the life of her five sons, Rocco (Alan Delon), Simone (Renato Salvatori), Ciro (Max Cartier), Moroni (RogerHanin) and her youngest boy of 7. They find dwelling in the basement of a housing complex and better themselves eventually when Simone and, later, Rocco enter the world of boxing. Both become involved with a former prostitute definitively played by Annie Giradot. Simone turns brutish and attacks Rocco savagely. Rocco is a Christ like figure who forgives all and tries his best to save the family, but tragedy is in store when Simone kills Giradot in an unforgettable waterside scene. Also in the cast are a very young Claudia Cardinale and Suzy Delair. Paolo Stoppa is brilliant as the boxing impresario. Score by Nina Rota (some of which is used later in Fellini films) and photography by Giuseppe Rotunno are perfection
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a true masterwork
daflauta31 March 2006
State-of-the-art directing, acting (Katina Paxinou, Alain Delon, Annie Girardot, Renato Salvatore), photography, superb musical score. A film to bring any sensitive and open mind to tears near the end. The destruction of a family order, jealousy, betrayal between brothers and the saintliness of Rocco, always ready to forgive, thinking more about his family than himself. All this in black and white! I hope film directors will never give away this format. By the way, I would like to know whether the plaque in Rosaria's new apartment (when Rocco's back from the army) reads "Pafundi" instead of "Parondi" on purpose (why?) or was it a flaw? I also would like to know which language do some characters spoke on stage(I think it's french), namely Rocco and Ginetta. I am watching a Russian edition whose dubbing is disastrous. Thanks to the ease of DVD players I could choose the Italian soundtrack and disable subtitles...
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Vincentiu12 January 2013
I am a fan of Visconti movies. for the Barroco nuances and poetry of small things. for beauty of details and courage to present slices of a neorealism in which is mixed nostalgic crumbs of a world fall and need of new society definition. Rocco was first movie by him who I saw it. a film - bitter story. picture of a family, map of searches, touching drawing of a victory of city and the love as delicate web. and, sure, one of wonderful roles of Alain Delon. in fact, a gate, or only a window to a time who becomes ours. because story is universal. and the figure of poor mother - letter of a never ending poem , is remarkable. end of an age. seed of a new form of self definition for Italian cinema. but, very important, testimony, not about a period. but a state of soul. must see it !
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What a humanity of living! What a complexity of humans!
marcin_kukuczka6 July 2008
It is quite widespread to evaluate a movie after forty or more years in terms of time test. In many cases, we may claim that some movies are like wine: the older they are, the better they occur to be. Yet, not many movies are great in the intensity of being captivating on multiple levels. This can be said about ROCCO E I SUOI FRATELLI by Count Visconti, a film considered not only by its director to be his best one but still appreciated by lots of viewers worldwide. Let me consider some of its strongest points that I noticed while seeing the film.

The most important thing that drew my attention in ROCCO E I SUOI FRATELLI was the wide range of life situations, themes and feelings which one can enumerate endlessly. The viewer is truly given an insight into profound development of charming affection, bitter humiliation, outrageous mockery, sweet desire, wretched rivalry, Utopian idealism, cruel vengeance, sad disappointment, intense sorrow, indefatigable disillusion, upsetting despair directing themselves towards final hope. By analyzing the content and trying to identify with the characters (note that it is not "observing" the characters but "identifying" with them like in classic Greek tragedies), the viewers dive into life situations which, at the same time, can be present in their own experiences: family ties, unemployment, social status, honor, social pressure, plotting, crimes...are they not all up to date now as they were in 1960? But this aspect cannot be separated from the characters.

CHARACTER ANALYSIS. Rocco (Alain Delon) is an idealist, a very good person but too noble to succeed in this world. He appears to be a sort of biblical king David whose pardoning and love lead him to omit the teaching example and forget those who really care for him. His brother Ciro (Max Cartier), however, is a good realist who knows what the family means, how it matters; yet, who does not ignore the purifying punishment for wickedness. He seems to be as good hearted as Rocco; however; his mind is indeed more "earthly." He heads for goodness filled with honest intentions but keeping both feet firmly on the ground. Vincenzo is most individual and, thanks to getting married, most separated from the family. The "villain" brother is Simone (Renato Salvatori) who becomes a successful boxer but gradually turns to declining psychological strength poisoned by desire, jealousy and vengeance. In between comes a poor mother Rosaria Parondi (Katina Paxinou) who copes with true psychological suffering of lost hope and humiliation. An interesting character is a "fallen woman" Nadia (Annie Girardot) who is as changeable and as romantic as a classical tragic female in her dreams but down to earth and desperate in her acts. When it seems possible for her to fulfill the dreams of a better life, it is too late...

There is so much profoundity and complexity in the movie that one could dwell in the themes for long. However, let me focus on the ARTISTIC FEATURES of the movie, too.

Visconti's movie is a very valuable cinematic work with truly stunning cinematography, perfect direction, excellent script, wonderful moments. Anyone who decides to see this film should not ignore three moments that appear to be the milestone of film's harmony. The first one is Rocco and Nadia on the top of Milanese cathedral where she opens her psyche to him and, at the same time, his reaction is like a great blow of individual reality affecting the mutual one: "We'll never meet again" The second moment is the scene when all the family except for Simone celebrate Rocco's championship in boxing. The two bells that ring: the first one being a mysterious visit, the second one being Simone's entrance leave critical thoughts and conclusions. The third is the final moment when Ciro talks to their youngest brother Luca about life, future, and errors that should never be made again. However, that is not all. There is something more that makes Visconti's film an artistic pearl, PERFORMANCES.

All cast do excellent jobs portraying their characters in a genuine way with a necessary invitation for viewers to identify. Alain Delon is unforgettable as Rocco: gentle, kind hearted, sometimes weak, sometimes very straightforward in personal decisions. The opposite counterpart appears to be Renato Salvatori who perfectly portrays Simone - so wild, so tremendously unstable, so easily led to fear, addiction and tragic despair. Another performance that deserves appreciation is Katina Paxinou's in the role of mother Rosaria: religious with a bit of superstition, so dominant over her sons, and generally so good hearted. A mention should be made of a minor role of Claudia Cardinale who plays Ginetta, Vincenzo's wife.

ROCCO E I SUOI FRATELLI is a must see, a movie that everyone should watch profoundly addressing three levels of attention: first, a sole interest in Visconti being one of Neorealist directors aside DeSica, Rossellini and others; second, the artistic side including cinematography, direction, charm, performances; third, insight into both content and characters, their realistic complexity, humanity of life. Then, these three hours of watching will not occur in vain.
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Natural and accessible characterstudy: beautiful, not pretentious
rogierr10 July 2001
I feel that this is just as much about his brothers as it is about Rocco. I don't even think Rocco is the key figure in the story. The film is constructed of five chapters in each of which the emphasis is more or less on one of the five brothers (Vincenzo Parondi, Simone, Rocco, Ciro, Luca). The chapter about the youngest brother contains remarks about about their attitude towards life and the philosophy for the future. But it never gets heavy-handed because everything is so natural and the whole is very accessible. The story is about the struggle of a family from the south of Italy that moves to the city (in the first minute) and struggles with jealousy, wrath, regrets, confusion and citylife. But the most important element throughout the film are the bonds between the members of the family, which you guessed from the title ofcourse.

Cinematographer Giuseppe Rotunno (Amarcord, Regarding Henry, Il Gattopardo -> all three not comparable BTW) and the other makers of this film where not ambitious or pretentious while making this masterpiece: that would really have been besides the point they were making and unnecessary too, because the story and the pace don't need it and the cast is brilliant.

Some more references. The score was done by Nino Rota (Godfather, Amarcord, Il Gattopardo): the tune that helped making Godfather famous was already more or less completed here in 'Rocco'. The film might have been inspired by Ladri di biciclette (1948) and may in turn have been the inspiration for Raging Bull (1980), the Outsiders (Coppola, 1983) and even the Godfather, although 'Rocco' has nothing to do with neither mafia nor with America. In 1963 Delon, Cardinale (who has a very small role in 'Rocco') and Visconti would work together on Il Gattopardo. But 'Rocco' has to be Visconti's greatest! (besides Morte a Venezia, which is a TOTALLY different film BTW). Also see Hotel New Hampshire (1984).

10 points out of 10 :-)
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The life of southern Italian inmigrants in Milan
esteban174720 September 2001
Warning: Spoilers
A jewel of world cinematography. This Visconti's film showed how post-war Italy started to change itself, the differences in culture and habits among the Italians from the South with those from the North, the development of industrial North and the underdevelopment of the South (often close to the status of any developing country). It showed also how tight are the relationship of the family in the South and the dominance of the parents who may order anything to any of their children even married. The tragedy started when Rocco's brother (Renato Salvatori)became jealous of the Rocco's success as a boxer, and killed his former fiancée (Annie Girardot) because she felt in love with Rocco (Delon). The conclusion of the film is that old things and/or system are becoming replaced by young new ones.

This film was one of the first of then young Claudia Cardinale, who played a secondary role.
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A masterpiece with a terrible legacy...
benoit-313 March 2006
I could kick myself for not having seen this film before now (on French Ontario television, in the shortened 168 minute French version). It is a wonderful Italian family epic explaining, in Marxist terms, the effect on a southern rural family of a move to the big northern city of Milan. The contrast between a violent brother (Simone) and his saintly counterpart (Rocco) gives rise to the tragedy which everybody else must pay for. The film has a great theme, great direction, great acting and a truly memorable and heart-rending score by Nino Rota. It reaches the heights of Shakespearean drama and of course outdoes it in realism. But what I discovered by seeing this film so late is that it is also partly responsible for the seedier aspects of the careers of Martin Scorsese and Francis Coppola who naturally tried to emulate their hero Visconti by adapting his themes to American reality. This has unfortunately had the side-effect of creating a monster of a melodrama called "The Godfather" which became an ode to violence and organized crime and a boxing-themed film like "Raging Bull" which further contributed to lower the bar of graphic violence on the screen. Hell, Coppola even borrowed the services of Nino Rota for the film and its sequel... I admire "Rocco" but I still think the world would have been better off without "The Godfather" and "Raging Bull" (among other violent films of the second part of the last century). "Rocco" is available on DVD in America in its cut 168 minute Italian version in non-anamorphic widescreen (1.66:1) with English subtitles, which is unfortunate for us Francophones as the French version is just as legitimate as the Italian one and features Delon's, Girardot's, Salvatori's and Hanin's real voices. It deserves an uncut edition and the full Criterion treatment.
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A FEAST of a Movie That Always Satisfies - Renato Salvatori's Moment of Glory
poetcomic18 March 2015
Warning: Spoilers
I am delighted to find that decades later this has lost NONE of its sweeping power and operatic splendor. Renato Salvatori should have received a shelf of acting prizes for this role - it is one of the most intense and beautiful acting jobs since Marlon Brando filmed 'Streetcar'. Close behind is the legendary role of Annie Girardot's doomed 'Nadia'. Alain Delon is heartbreaking and overwhelmed by love, life, all that is demanded of him by family, everything.

A great movie carries all before it. Claudia Cardinale is given a 'neo-realist' simplicity that actually accents her beauty far better than the over made up and stylized version of herself we came to know. Katina Paxinou is a force of nature and though Magnani would have been magnificent in the role she would have been 'too Magnani'. Paxinou vanishes into the role of the mother with perfect understanding of every gesture, word and shade of feeling asked of her. Even small roles - take for instance the owner of the laundry - are fabulous! SO much good acting it is almost TOO much good acting. I could describe a dozen more small roles played to perfection.

Don't watch any great film for awhile till your mind and heart are good and hungry and rediscover this masterpiece.
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This is great
Bizas1 June 2001
Maybe the best italian movie i have ever seen... until now. In 2001 i saw this film for the first time and it seems it could be done in our days.

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Surprised and Delighted
zetes22 January 2001
I was not looking forward to this film. My history with Luchino Visconti promised an awful evening. My previous experience with his films is twofold: La Terra Trema and Senso. As much merit as there may have been in La Terra Trema, it quickly became repetitive neorealism: the family is poor, they are staying poor, and there is nothing they can do about it. That could have been a very interesting setting for a story, but that film dragged on ad nauseam without saying anything. To boot, Visconti himself provided a very pretentious and degrading narration, telling the audience how horrible life can be and such. Then there was Senso. How much can I really say about Senso? Not much, since I fell asleep for a significant portion of it. For one thing, I despise costume dramas (well, any film where there is more attention paid to the costumes than to anything else, I cannot stand). I had liked Valli and Farley Granger in other films, but they both seemed profoundly out of place in that film. Plus, I have a slight aversion to color films. Call me a snob. They just make me tired (at least the older ones, ca 1930s to the early 1960s; maybe it's just the way the films were colored (is this what Technicolor is?); I just feel that the color seems so unrealistic). So to see that I was going to be forced to sit through another three hours of Luchino Visconti initially felt like a death sentence. But I tried to have an open mind. Luckily, this film was quite great. Sure, it is a melodrama (and it never aspires to be more than a melodrama, and thus succeeds in avoiding pretensions), but it is a particular masterful one. For a melodrama to be successful, it must involve me, and Rocco and His Brothers does that. And for a three hour film to be good, it must make me feel as if I have spent time with the characters on screen, that I have lived a part of their lives, and that I care what is happening to them. Rocco covers these bases, and then some. Its characters are very fleshed-out. After the first act, I knew all the characters well, and understood their motives. After the three hours, I felt sad that I had to leave them. Not many films can do this. It is one of the greatest compliments I can think to give a film. Luchino Visconti, for me, has been redeemed. 9/10
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"There's no hope now!"
elvircorhodzic31 March 2017
ROCCO AND HIS BROTHERS is a crime drama about the struggle of a poor Italian family from the South with an unknown and "modern" city life. This family drama is full of emotional turmoils and tragic upheavals.

The four sons of a poor rural Italian family from the South travel with their mother to join their oldest brother in Milan. Each of the five brothers must adjust to a new life in the big city. Their mother is a strong bond that connects them. However, it is difficult to be a harmonious family in the big city. A beautiful prostitute is a cause of discord in their family...

Every new experience in the lives of these people is a kind of incident. The protagonists are not able to change their lives. The family is what makes life. Life without the family does not make sense. This is a realistic view of a bitter life, which have gradually extinguished. Emotions are not consistent with the nature of some of the protagonists. Therefore, strong outbursts of emotions are a little bit grotesque. Jealousy, devotion to family or an unrequited love are completely normal life situations. In this case, these are incurable life's wounds. Emotionalism and realism are so intertwined that it is impossible to draw a clear line in some key scenes. Therefore, certain events in this film can not be called a life experience, more a tragedy.

The atmosphere is obscured. It is a reflection of a life in the fog, without a clear future. Some scenes are truly shocking. Their significance is even greater, because, human spirit is excommunicated through these scenes.

Alain Delon as Rocco Parondi is a loyal, generous and naive young man. He carries a burden of deep pain and family responsibilities on his shoulders. A character, who is trying to find the best in people. His performance has certainly captured the hearts of many viewers.

Annie Girardot as Nadia has offered a great performance. A young and beautiful prostitute is torn between two philosophies of life. However, she is not able to choose between a false urban hedonism and true love. Others have chosen for her. It is a tragedy of her character. Renato Salvatori as Simone Parondi is a restless and depressed loafer. A violent man, who can not settle down. The big city is full of good opportunities, but some of them may be a great challenge for an inexperienced young man.

Their support are Katina Paxinou (Rosaria Parondi) as a hysterical and helpless mother, Max Cartier (Ciro Parondi) is a kind of voice of reason, Spiros Focás (Vincenzo Parondi) is a quiet and calm oldest brother and Claudia Cardinale (Ginetta) is his emotional wife.

This is a dynamic story about members of Parondi family which is falling apart under an influence of crime, mutual misunderstanding and superstition.
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Pregnant with dramatic human emotions
kijii25 November 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Although I've seen several Visconti films, this is my favorite. In some ways it reminds me of Raging Bull made twenty years later. This is partially due to its story about the rise and fall of a boxer and partially due to its broad view of the boxer's personal life and volatile relationships. Also, both films display stunningly black and white photography. Although Raging Bull was a epic biopic about an actual boxer, it's hard to believe that a film historian like Martin Scorsese wasn't heavily influenced by Rocco and His Brothers when he made Raging Bull.

This film also reminds me a bit of grand opera (without the music). It is pregnant with dramatic human emotions such as love, hate, jealousy, revenge, murder, and remorse. THIS beautiful 'opera' is in five 'acts,' each named for one of the five Parondi brothers: (Act 1) Vincenzo, (Act 2) Simone, (Act 3) Rocco, (Act 4) Ciro, and (Act 5) Luca. The five 'acts' of the three-hour movie aren't, in any way, short stories or vignettes exclusive to the character named: the entire movie is about all of them and always within a family context. However, the film sections (named after the brothers) tend to give the audience some structural clues about how the characters evolve, with each taking on more prominent roles at different times in the story.

Greek actress Katina Paxinou, who had won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar in 1943 as a Spanish freedom fighter in For Whom the Bell Tolls and played in several Greek tragedies, seems equally at home here as the quintessentially volatile Italian mother, Rosaria Parondi. After her husband's accidental death, she fulfills her lifelong dream of moving from the country in the South of Italy to the big city of Milan. This is where she always dreamed of living, and this is where she believes her sons can make successes of their lives.

As Rosaria and four of her sons arrive in Milan on the train, their eyes are full of hope and excitement for the future. They expect to be greeted by the fifth and eldest son, Vincenzo (Spiros Focás), but he is not there. When they trace him down, he is celebrating his upcoming marriage with his fiancee's family. When his own large family arrives on the doorstep of the party, his plans suddenly change. His new priority is to help his family get settled in Milan.

Rosaria and her sons take a house and start looking for work. Almost instantly God provides them with a snowstorm, and the four oldest brothers take to the streets to shovel snow for startup money. While Vincenzo already has a job in housing construction, Simone (Renato Salvatori) looks for a future as a prizefighter and falls in love with a loose but cute and outgoing girl, Nadia (Annie Girardot). When Simone's trainer becomes concerned about his lifestyle, he calls his brother, Rocco (Alain Delon), into his office and asks him to look out for Simone —watching to see that he stays away from drinking, smoking, and the wrong kind of company.

Although the Parondi family is very close, friction develops between Simone and Rocco when Simone's boxing career starts to take a tumble, and Rocco is asked to take his place. As Simone's life and career gradually slide, that of the idealistic Rocco succeeds. Rocco knows that Nadia is a troubled girl, from a troubled home, and that she has a prison record. She had openly told him about these things before. He feels sorry for her and wants her to be happy.

Simone takes Rocco's friendship and concern for Nadia as love, and this, coupled with the two brothers' reversal of fortune, makes Simone jealous of him. This comes to a head when, Simone and his gang follow Rocco and Nadia into a dark field one night. There, as Simone's gang holds Rocco back, Simone rapes Nadia in front of him. He then tries to further humiliate him by drawing him into a fight. Unable to fight his brother, Rocco is badly beaten and left lying in the gutter. Not wanting to worry his mother, and with no where else to go, he stays with Vincenzo and his wife for the night.

Ciro is the steady brother who works as a technician in an Alfa Romero factory and plans to get married soon. In the Ciro section of the film, we learn that Simone's life continues on a downward spiral as he moves into his mother's house with his 'whore,' Nadia. When his debts become overwhelming, Rocco is forced to sign a long- term fighting contract as the only way to get Simone totally out of debt. Ciro serves as a go- between for his two estranged brothers---one too hard and the other too idealistic.

The final portion of the film is the Luca section. It serves as something of a summary—a coda--for the entire Parondi family epic. This section compares what life was in the country and what it had become in the city. Although Ciro tries to guide the youngest brother, Luca (Rocco Vidolazzi), back to the country before it is too late; before his life is too settled; and while he can still change; he wants Luca to understand the past, what is important and what isn't. To Crio, Luca represents the family's future.
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Family Values?
ameyer179011 May 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Unlike others, including Roger Ebert, I see "Rocco and His Brothers" as a devastating condemnation of traditional Italian peasant family values. In the U.S. only slavery compares to what the old peasant classes of Europe experienced --legally free but entrenched in centuries of oppression, rural poverty and ignorance. In Italy, the film tells us, these conditions gave rise to the kind of loyalty that values family ties above everything, including the law, moral principles, even individual human life.

These are the "family values" that when extended to the neighborhood produce the mafia (then at its apex in 1960). And when extended nationally produce Fascism. Individuals in Rocco's family are enslaved and held down by these values. The film isn't about good and bad people, or about idyllic countryside versus evil city. Ciro, the everyman hero of the story, albeit a small role, reflects at the end that Rocco will not survive in the country either. The film is a reflection on tragedy awaiting both good and bad who cling to old, destructive values. If you're by nature not so good, these values will make you worse. If you're a good person, they'll lead you to destroy yourself and others.

When the family first moves to Milan, two passsers-by comment on them: "old country." Viewers at the time most likely understood old and new as pre- and post WWII. From the beginning the film sets up a dichotomy between old and new: Rocco's family's values amid the unending new construction projects in the film.

Look at Mama, bless her heart, that unsentimental image of what poverty and ignorance hath wrought. She brings her five sons to Milano –why? As she says, so they can get rich, and she can walk down a big city street hearing herself called "Signora." She doesn't care how they get rich --killed or maimed in the boxing ring (Simone may have been brain damaged there –- Mama still wants him to go back and wants Rocco to box also), theft, whatever. Then there's her rejection of Vincenzo, the eldest, ostensibly because of his accidental baby, but actually because he's now got a wife and baby to support instead of her, so obsessed is she with financial security (which self-centeredness she justifies as "keeping the family together"). No one gets a life of his own in Mama's view. She won't even go to the christening of her first grandchild, of whom she's jealous. Rocco's in the army. Does Mama care about his life there? Her letter asks for more money, although he's living on a practically non existent stipend. Children exist for the support and care of their parents, or they don't exist at all.

Simone and Rocco, yin and yang in this destructive universe, are photographed together in close physical contact more often than not: Simone, self centered emblem of old machismo, and Rocco, sacrificing himself and others in the name of family, in his mental and spiritual superiority more destructive than Simone. They're two sides of the same coin, like all opposites. (A wonderful symbol of Marx's dialectic). It's "Rocco and His Brothers" because Rocco is the guiding light leading his brothers down the wrong path for the right reasons. Ciro, rejecting these old values, striving to better himself, and Luca, too young to be completely imbued with them, are the positive lights to a possibly better future.
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Excellent acting but tale of misguided filial obligation doesn't ring true
Turfseer26 December 2010
Warning: Spoilers
'Rocco and his Brothers' begins as the Parondi clan move from their rustic life in Lucania, in the southern part of Italy, to the bustling northern metropolis of Milan. Head of the clan is the mother, Rosaria, a loud, obnoxious woman who can be best described as a worry wart. She brings her four sons, Rocco and Simone (in their early 20s), Ciro, a teenager, and Luca (about eight), to visit Vincenzo, the older brother who is engaged to Ginetta (played by Claudia Cardinale before she became famous). The expectation is that Vincenzo has arranged for his in-laws to put his mother and siblings up until they can obtain permanent lodging. Unfortunately, Rosaria and Ginetta's mother don't get along and Vincenzo is forced to find other quarters for them. Vincenzo consults a maintenance man who advises him that the family can move into an expensive apartment, stop paying the rent after a month and have the City of Milan then put them into decent housing since anyone who has officially been evicted, must be provided with social services by the City.

'Rocco' is divided into five segments, focusing on each of the brothers. The first segment involves Vincenzo whose character appears in stark contrast to his younger siblings. Whereas the newly arrived Parondis are very unsophisticated (they've never seen snow before) and regarded as country bumpkins by the residents of Milan, Vincenzo is a virtual cosmopolitan. While he has a small part in the film, Vincenzo serves two important purposes: 1) He is held up as less stable than the the younger and more together domestic pillar, Ciro, in that he is never able to facilitate a reconciliation between his mother and in-laws and ends up marrying Ginetta, more out of obligation than complete love, after she accidentally becomes pregnant; and 2) He ends up bumping into Nadia, the prostitute, in the hallway of the family's apartment building, introducing her to his other brothers.

The next segment focuses on Simone who is the film's evil antagonist. All good melodramas need a good villain and Simone fits the bill to a tee. He dates Nadia for only a short time before she becomes sick of him; despite dumping him, in Simone's mind, Nadia has become his possession. Despite his professed love for Nadia, Simone has no guilt feelings about seducing the cleaning store manager where Rocco works. This is after he borrows (without permission) an expensive shirt from the cleaners to go on his date with Nadia. What's more he steals a broach from the store manager and gives it to Nadia as a gift; only to have it returned by Nadia to Rocco with a message to Simone that she doesn't want to see him ever again. For a short time, Simone has some success as a local boxer but soon falls from grace.

The next segment focuses on Rocco who can best be described as an 'enabler'. At the end of the film, Ciro describes Rocco as a 'saint' but criticizes him for forgiving everyone for their transgressions. Rocco's character is the linchpin of the film and he's not a convincing character at all. At first, he wants nothing to do with boxing as he regards it as sleazy. Rocco eventually wants to return to the South where his kind-hearted nature might flourish. After joining the Army, he runs into Nadia and they develop a hot and heavy relationship. This leads to the most dramatic moment in the film, when Simone rapes Nadia in front of Rocco out of jealousy and Rocco in turn orders Nadia to 'go back' to Simone out of some kind of misguided filial obligation. If you believe anyone would have been so attached to his brother after spending so much time trying to show a downtrodden prostitute a new life (and actually ending up transforming her), then perhaps I can sell you the Brooklyn Bridge. I know it's supposed to be an example of a 'family tragedy', but I just don't believe anyone would have done such a thing, especially after he's a direct witness to his girlfriend being raped. Equally unbelievable is the subsequent scene where Nadia is about to spit in Simone's face and tells him she'll never go back to him—and then ends up kissing him and agrees to be his concubine.

The next to last segment focuses on Ciro who is held up as the only well-adjusted brother in the clan. He is in effect, Rocco's better half. After Simone steals thousands of dollars from his former manager, Rocco (now a successful boxer himself), has his manager guarantee money to pay Simone's debts in exchange for a contract which will obligate him to fight for another 10 years. After Simone kills Nadia, Rocco keeps playing the part of the enabler by insisting that everyone in the family keep quiet. But Ciro wisely informs the police who pick Simone up for Nadia's murder. Ciro serves to restore order to the out of kilter Parondi clan. It's Ciro who also wisely tells Luca in the concluding final segment, that even returning to the south, the supposed fount of innocence, is not a panacea to life's problems since things are constantly changing and no one can predict the outcome of what life has in store for us.

'Rocco and his Brothers' is very well-acted coupled with excellent cinematography. It should have all the ingredients of a masterpiece but doesn't. That's because its main character is not believable. Sure there are plenty of people like Rocco who would bail their brothers out financially even with the knowledge they had done something wrong; but to order their true love back into a destructive relationship with their brother after he just raped her, that's something I couldn't believe.

One sad addendum: Annie Giardot (Nadia) who was married to Renato Salvatori (Simone) in real life, is still alive but has Alzheimers and has no memory of her former life.
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A wonderful cast in a neorrealistic film
jesusito7 September 2002
In this truelly neorrealistic film, Visconti uses well known professional actors and gives a new push in Italian neorrealism. The camera focuses on the faces of the caracters, reflecting their thoughts and sentiments. At the same time the mechanisms of society that direct the fate of the characters are made clear through the presence of the secondary characters and the presentation of a city (Milano) under constant movement and constuction. The ideal of life in the country is present throughout the movie, though not even once we actually see a scene in the country. But at the same time Visconti through his caracters criticizes the poverty of Italian country, deconstructs the dream of a better life in the big city, and finally closes the film with a touch of optimism.
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Overlong and Overacted Melodrama
kenjha8 April 2011
A poor Italian woman moves with her sons from the country to Milan. Although a segment is devoted to each of the five brothers, the focus is on Delon (the saint) and Salvatori (the brute). Delon is so sensitive that he gets teary-eyed if the wind blows too hard. There's a ridiculous scene where the two fight over a prostitute. The film covers several years, and it seems initially that Visconti is going to present every mundane event in excruciating detail. It's a chore to sit through three hours of random episodes, dull boxing scenes, and embarrassing melodramatics. Pretty much everyone overacts. At least the cinematography is decent and Rota contributes a nice score.
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Makes less and less sense as it goes along
Mankin14 August 2002
Warning: Spoilers
I had some big problems with this movie, especially the mind-boggling plot turns that afflict its second half. It struck me that by far the most sympathetic character in the film was Annie Girardot as the prostitute who has the extreme bad luck to become involved with both of the brothers played by Alain Delon and Renato Salvatore. She rejects the bad brother (Salvatore), because he doesn't respect her and gives her stolen jewelry. She then begins a new and more fulfilling relationship with the good one (Delon), and they fall genuinely in love. When Salvatore finds out, he rapes her in a fit of jealousy and beats his brother for taking up with her. Now get this: Delon dumps her and tells her that she must go back to Salvatore because his reprehensible actions prove that he's the one who really needs her the most! Now some have interpreted Delon's sacrifice as a saintly one, but personally I thought it was just as cruel to her in its own way as anything his loathsome brother did. Incredibly, Girardot does attempt to begin another relationship with Salvatore, but it is, of course, doomed to failure and predictable tragedy. If she had any sense, she would have left both of them! Ultimately, my impatience with the increasingly irrational and unbelievable actions of these three characters overrode my enjoyment of the film.
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Cosmoeticadotcom1 February 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Aside from its great portrayal of family life (and, via Rocco, all the hypocrisies and evils therein), the film is also great study in the effects of World War Two on rejiggering the Italian lifestyle, especially with expanded urbanization. In the end, the three older brothers cannot deal with the move from the pastoral life of their youth. Ciro, who is easily the most ethically grounded brother (despite Rocco's constantly being called saintly), can do so, and the film ends with the jury out on young Luca. This is heightened by the fact that we are not shown any images, within the film, of the family's rural roots- not domestic nor geographic. It, as the past always is, is another country. But, many poor critics have mistakenly called the film a 'tragedy,' when it clearly is not, for a tragedy demands a sense of grandeur or greatness, and there are no such people in this film. Instead, Rocco And His Brothers shows us dirt poor 'real' people scraping to survive (in stark contrast to Visconti's campier melodramas on the rich and powerful), and one of the consequences of survival is that only the fittest make it. Thus, Nadia, Simone, and one suspects Rocco, are doomed. But this fact is far more related to the film's Neo-Realist roots than its melodramatic faux 'tragedy.' And that all this is done so deftly, with an economy of narrative setup, is a testament to both the writing and acting in selling what could be a really bad cliché.

Rocco And His Brothers is a great film, which only deepens upon successive viewings (in meaning and complexity) just as its nominal successor (Hannah And Her Sisters) was a quarter century later, but for the same reason, achieved by different means: it takes one into another (past) time and era seamlessly- making any inquiry into what mis-en-scene is seem silly; and in doing so proves it is timeless. And that is usually never too far from greatness.
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