RoGoPaG (Masters of Cinema) DVD+Blu-ray
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Produced in 1962
Main Language - Italian with English subtitles
Through examining the anxieties of their own age, these four films from Godard, Rossellini, Pasolini and Gregoretti make a prescient diagnosis of the strains of our own, writes Graeme Hobbs
RoGoPaG, or to give its full title, Let's Wash our Brains: RoGoPaG, came out around half a century ago (six years after the publication of Vance Packard's expose of the dark arts of consumerist manipulation, The Hidden Persuaders, the year after the first Bond film, Dr. No, a few months after the Cuban missile crisis and the week after The Beatles recorded Please Please Me are some more or less relevant markers); it is therefore at times startling that its four films - from Roberto Rossellini, Jean-Luc Godard, Pier Paolo Pasolini and Ugo Gregoretti, hence the title - through examining the anxieties of their own age should make such a prescient diagnosis of the strains of our own. Exploring questions of freedom of thought and action and also the possibilities left for love in the atom age (both atomic and atomised that is), the films in their various ways depict a world whose professions and pressures make distance between people more natural than intimacy. The resultant space is filled with consumer goods and filmed. There is plenty of humour here of course, but as you might expect from 'four stories by four authors who limit themselves to recounting the joyous beginning of the end of the world', it's wry, melancholy, sacrilegious and caustic by turns.
In Rossellini's treatise on love, lechery, loneliness and cine-cameras, Chastity, an air hostess is pestered by a bothersome middle-aged American tourist in Bangkok - that they film their encounter provides both a solution and suspect solace.
In Godard's The New World there is a nuclear burst in the skies above Paris (or so we are told by the newspapers). Barring the sight of people nervously throwing pills down their throats in the street and women donning an Ursula Andress style dagger in their trunks, nothing at all changes - which makes the fact that the customary bonds between a couple have entirely broken all the more disconcerting. 'It will be the small, slight changes that inevitably destroy us' says the film's preface.
In Pasolini's La Ricotta (for which the director was handed a four-month suspended prison sentence for 'publicly undermining the religions of the state'), a director (Orson Welles) oversees a farcical staging of the cruifixion and deposition in which an extra dies on the cross after finally gorging himself on the food he's been trying to eat all day. In this world, symbolism is more important than succour - and the filming of such symbols is more important than either.
At least there is plenty of stuff to buy in this disorienting new world of uncertain morality and unmoored desires. Ugo Gregoretti's Free Range Chicken is a biting satire on consumption and acquisition which starts off in a symposium on "Development of consumption and increase in production: New perspectives offered by knowledge of the secret 'I' of the consumer", overseen by Professor Pizzorno, a marketing guru whose temporary affliction to the vocal cords and consequent use of an electrolarynx marks him out as a predecessor to Godard's sinister supercomputer Alpha 60 in Alphaville. "The average consumer is an incalculable reserve who allows production to maintain the levels already met, and greatly surpass them, provided that he's constantly controlled, monitored, spied on, prompted, pushed…" he says, as the couple whose story is told in parallel are churned around in an ad-man's paradise of cynical consumerist manipulation in which their children spout advertising slogans, their new TV isn't as new as it should be and nor is their car. And the plot of building land they are looking at isn't as big as it really should be either. Size matters. If only the Professor could know just how effectively and rigorously his vision of "systematic dissatisfaction" has since come to pass, his gladhanding croak at the film's end would be more exultant than it already is.
Graeme Hobbs on 16th July 2012
Author of 276 reviews
An entertaining and prescient multi-director portmanteau film that brought together four giants of European cinema to contribute comic episodes reflective of the swinging post-boom era. The resulting omnibus collectively examines social anxieties around sex, nuclear war, religion, urbanisation – and the promise of a modern cinema.
Contains Roberto Rossellini's 'Illibatezza (Chastity)', Jean-Luc Godard's 'Il Nuovo Mondo (The New World)', Ugo Gregoretti's 'Il Pollo Ruspante (The Free Range Chicken)' and Pier Paolo Pasolini's 'La Ricotta (Curd Cheese)'.
Roberto Rossellini’s Illibatezza [Chastity] follows an airline stewardess plagued by a lonely American tourist in Bangkok; Jean-Luc Godard’s Il nuovo mondo [The New World] takes place in an Italian-dubbed Paris beset by nuclear fallout, and wittily chronicles the changes that take place in the lives of a handsome young couple. Pier Paolo Pasolini’s scandalous La Ricotta presents the goings-on around a film shoot devoted to the Crucifixion and presided over by none other than Orson Welles - it was this episode that landed Pasolini with a suspended four-month prison sentence. Lastly, Ugo Gregoretti’s Il pollo ruspante [Free-Range Chicken] depicts a middle-class Milanese family flirting with the purchase of real-estate and engaging catastrophically with an antagonistic consumerist infrastructure.
Publisher: Eureka / Masters of Cinema
Length: 123 mins
Aspect ratio: 1.85:1 widescreen
Cat No: EKA70047
Format: DVD+Blu-ray B&W
- 2 discs
- Gorgeous new HD restoration of the film in its original aspect ratio, in 1080p on the Blu-ray
- Newly translated optional English subtitles
- Original Italian theatrical trailer
- 56-page booklet featuring new essays by Tag Gallagher, Arthur Mas, Martial Pisani, and Pasquale Iannone
- a new translation by Tag Gallagher of excerpts from an oral history about the film
- and rare archival imagery.