Rocco and His Brothers

DVD review Luchino Visconti shows his conflicted self in this timely reissue of what many consider to be the director's neo-realist masterpiece.

A fresh-faced Alain Delon stars alongside Renato Salvatori in Visconti's masterpiece.
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The director Luchino Visconti shows his conflicted self in what many consider his masterpiece, Rocco and His Brothers, about a mother who brings her four sons from Italy's impoverished south to the harsh streets of Milan where they find their rural roots in conflict with the fast-paced viciousness of the urban milieu. The film clearly has one foot in neo-realism, updated with camera movement and dialogue that, at times, reflects nouvelle vague theories about the use of off-screen space. The cinematography conversely recalls von Sternberg's sumptuous style, as Visconti meticulously and, at times, luxuriously composes his shots. There are also occasional emotional outbursts and scattered sequences of unabashed romanticism. In the end, no matter the roots, this is definitely not neo-realism. Graced with the astonishingly young and angel-faced Alain Delon in the title role, Annie Girardot who woos two of the brothers, Claudia Cardinale as the Milanese wife of brother Spiro Foca and Renato Salvatore as the brother who goes off the rails, this 177-minute epic is poignant and absorbing for film buffs as well as casual film fans.