• Three Brothers



    Released by: Arrow Academy
    Released on: April 25th, 2017.
    Director: Francesco Rosi
    Cast: Philippe Noiret, Michele Placido, Vittorio Mezzogiorno, Andréa Ferréol
    Year: 1981
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    The Movie:

    Despite the fact that it was directed and co-written by a well-respected director like Francesco Rosi and that it was given an Academy Award nomination in the year of its release, Three Brothers never received a home video release until Arrow’s new Blu-ray issue. If Rosi isn’t mentioned in arthouse circles as frequently as contemporaries like Fellini or Passolini, he nevertheless left behind an impressive cinematic legacy.

    Donato Giuranna (Charles Vanel) is an aged widower, having lost his wife a short time ago. He lives on a farm in the remote Italian countryside. He calls for his three sons to return to the home where they were raised and as this happens, we get to know them a bit. Raffaele (Philippe Noiret) works as a judge, and through his work taking on a specific criminal element, his life can be in danger pretty much at any time. Rocco (Vittorio Mezzogiorno) works at an orphanage, dealing with disenfranchised youth and doing what he can to help them. Nicola (Michele Placido) is a factory worker who takes the message of his union very seriously and involves himself in the politics of the workers’ rights movement.

    As the three brothers come together, all that they have in common is contrasted with the many differences that exist between them. Through Donato’s character we learn about their upbringing and about some of the events that shaped these three men. While they reconnect, Donato gets closer to his young granddaughter.

    This isn’t a plot heavy film, rather it’s a character piece in that it explores the various personal philosophies of the three central characters through their conversations and their respective back stories. These conversations inevitably turn into short little story vignettes that further detail what it is that these men are after in life, what makes them tick, what makes them happy and what disappoints them. It’s not a particularly exciting film, it moves at a snail’s pace and in hindsight it almost seems like a collection of conversations more than a traditional narrative, and sometimes some very quiet conversations at that.

    Having said that, if the pacing is deliberately slow and the emphasis not on action or excitement but relationship, the movie does what it does quite well. It’s a very nicely shot picture that benefits from an impressive and effective soundtrack courtesy of composer Piero Piccioni. The performances are very strong across the board, with each of the three principals doing a fine job crafting believable characters that feel very much to be products of their environment.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    Three Brothers arrives on Blu-ray in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer framed at 1.85.1 widescreen. The presentation, according to the insert booklet, is taken from a new restored 2k scan of unspecified elements. Regardless of the source, the image quality here is quite nice. Parts of the film were clearly shot to look a bit soft, that’s carried over to this disc as it should be, but otherwise the image is clean and nicely detailed with great color reproduction and no obvious digital manipulation. Anytime print damage does show up, it’s minor stuff and never a distraction.

    The Italian language LPCM Mono track is free of any issues. Dialogue is clean, clear and consistently well balanced against the score and occasional sound effects. There are no noticeable issues with any hiss or distortion and the optional English subtitles are easy to read and free of any obvious typographical errors.

    The main extra on the discs is a seventy-two minute long audio recording of an interview done with the film’s director back in 1987. This plays out over a still gallery of sorts and touches on making the film Chronicle Of A Death Foretold, working alongside Lucino Visconti, the cast he used on that film, the importance of the locations featured in the picture and more. Aside from that, the disc also includes a theatrical trailer, menus and chapter selection.

    As this is a combo pack release we also get a DVD version of the movie with extras identical to those found on the Blu-ray disc. Included inside the keepcase alongside the two discs is a color insert booklet featuring a few interesting written piece on the film - an essay written by director Rosi himself entitled In Opposition To Life, In Opposition To Death, an essay by Millicent Marcus entitled Beyond Cinema Politico, a selection of reviews for Three Brothers and a text interview entitled Francesco Rosi On Three Brothers conducted by Michael Ciment. The booklet also includes credits for the feature and the Blu-ray release as well as some technical notes about the presentation. Lastly, Arrow has supplied a reversible cover sleeve for this release.

    The Final Word:

    While the underlying political message of Francesco Rosi’s Three Brothers might not resonate with a modern audience outside of the film’s native Italy, the way in which it deals with the sibling relations explored in the film still packs a decent punch. This is admittedly a very slow film, and at times that is to the picture’s detriment, but the production values are great as are the performances and as such, it’s well worth seeing even if it isn’t a picture you might go back to all that often. Arrow’s Blu-ray release offers up a really strong presentation and a few nice extras to complement that impressive presentation.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!