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Directed by Luchino Visconti
Produced in 1942
Main Language - ITALIAN with English subtitles
Clara Calamai, Massimo Girotti
Visconti's Ossessione is a masterful demonstration of how to capture and hold attention. The first five minutes of the film draw us in and from there, we are held until the end. How?
The film begins with the view from a truck. Stopping for diesel, the drivers get out and are joined by the owner of the nearby Trattoria. The camera hangs back disinterested, observing them in the middle distance and remaining apart from them, content to establish them in their surroundings. They walk to the side of the truck and we see the side view of a man who has hitched a ride in the back, his face hidden by his hat. He gets out, his face still hidden and we watch him at a distance as he walks towards the Trattoria. Inside, no-one comes to serve him at the bar so he goes to look into a back room. We see him looking through a doorway at a woman sitting on a table and swinging her legs, shoes dandled from her feet. His back obscures all but her legs from our view. Then it happens. We get the first close-up of the film as Giovanna looks up, down and up again at the man in the doorway. Suddenly she is held.
The camera then turns and zooms in on Gino for the first time, and we see exactly what Giovanna sees. It is one of the most irresistible shots ever filmed. Whatever age or sex you might be, it provokes a physical reaction, it makes you draw breath. We are held. From that moment on the camera is interested and involved with Gino and Giovanna. They can’t keep their eyes off each other throughout the film and the camera can’t keep its eye off them. They hold each other with their eyes. This in turn holds us and we are complicit with their looks, held until the end.
Graeme Hobbs on 4th June 2003
Author of 285 reviews
Visconti's adaptation of James M. Cain's The Postman Always Rings Twice translates laconic American passion to the flatlands of the Po Valley where it becomes unrestrained desire, steeped 'in the air of death and sperm' as co-screenwriter de Santis would have it. The film which gave the world Neo-Realism and heralded a new era of Italian cinema is a superb picture of human nature and obsession.
Length: 140 mins
Aspect ratio: 4:3
Format: DVD B&W
Released: 5th May 2003
Cat No: BFIVD580
- Audio commentary
- digitally regraded.
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