It may be just me, but I’m not really sure why Luchino Visconti is such an important director that he warrants so many individual films on the list. I liked the beauty of the cinematography in Il Gattopardo, and very little else, and in Rocco and his Brothers, there was very little to the film in the same fashion, but it makes do with what it has. Visconti’s creation comes hot on the heels of the Italian neorealism movement, and while it may have been late to the party, it sure as hell intends on making its mark regardless.
Rocco and his Brothers is a black and white film, in stark contrast to Il Gattopardo, though the two share the same cinematographer and thus very similar visual styles. I couldn’t quite tell if it was just the print I saw, or if the film really was as muddy looking as it appeared, as that seems to be a key component of the visual aesthetic of Italian neorealism. Even with its neorealist undertones, the film does have more pizazz and production value than most films in the genre, but it sticks so close to its roots that it never really uses any of its glitz to a productive end as a film. It is merely content with placing all the components on screen, sitting by the sidelines, and watching as whatever happens plays out. This makes for a very disconnective film, one that seemingly has no cares or wants other than to present its material. The material itself wasn’t bad; there wasn’t really a narrative or an overarching story, it was mostly following the lives of the titular brothers from day to day. This seems to be a common story motif among films on the list, and methinks it may be a bit over-regarded; just because a film is like this doesn’t automatically make it a masterpiece and a must see, but it certainly wins the critics over, that’s for sure. The overdubbing got a little noticeable at times as well, which always rubs me the wrong way.
Rocco and his Brothers is a neorealist film that falls into the traps of neorealism a few times, but thankfully has the tools and the know-how to climb out of each of them and still move forward. The film is a hard one to be engaged about, I’ll admit, but at least it has motive and direction, something that I found lacking in other neorealist films I’ve seen in the past. If you’re a fan of Italian neorealism, definitely give this one a look; otherwise, you may not find enough to warrant the nearly three hour running time. For me, I’ll be happier knowing this one is out of the way.
Arbitrary Rating: 7/10