• Fellini’s Casanova (Kino Lorber) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Kino Lorber
    Released on: December 8th, 2020.
    Director: Federico Fellini
    Cast: Donald Sutherland, Tina Aumont, Cicely Browne
    Year: 1976
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    Fellini’s Casanova – Movie Review:

    Directed by Federico Fellini in 1976, Casanova stars Donald Sutherland as the infamous Italian man whose name has gone on to become synonymous with a man’s ability to seduce members of the fairer sex. Set in the seventeenth century and filmed entirely on location in Rome and set to a fantastic score from composer Nino Rota, the story opens with our titular lead arrested and hauled in front of an inquisition that sentence him to prison. Naked and alone in his cell, he eventually makes a clever escape and finds himself wandering across the many and varied cities of Europe.

    As Casanova travels across the continent, he, and subsequently the audience, meets all manner of interesting characters along the way. After he meets and beds Angelina The Giantess (Sandra Elaine Allen) he continues his exploits with Rosalba (Leda Lojodice) and then the two beautiful daughters of alchemist Doctor Moebius, Isabella (Olimpia Carlisi) and her sister (Silvana Fusacchia). As he continues his exploits, he takes care of the aged but extremely affluent Marquise d'Urfe (Cicely Browne), a nun named Sister Maddalena (Margareth Clémenti) and then the gorgeous Henriette (Tina Aumont).

    Fellini’s Casanova is, like most of the director’s films, a very lush looking picture. Featuring Academy Award winning costume work from Danilo Donati and shot by cinematographer Giuseppe Rotunno (who also shot Amarcord, Roma, Fellini Satyricon and Fellini's segment of Spirits Of The Dead), it’s a picture filled with gorgeous, and sometimes intentionally button pushing, visual concepts. We see this not just in the beautiful set design and costume work but also in the casting and the intended look that they receive. Often times the characters are made up in strange ways or move in strange ways, unnatural ways, really, and it helps to create a legitimately bizarre mood that can often time stand in stark contrast to many of the gorgeous visuals on display.

    As imaginative as it is intentionally strange, Fellini’s Casanova does make very good use of its cast. Sutherland might seem an odd choice for the lead, but he’s very good here and the director plays to the actor’s ability to bring quirky characters to life quite effectively. The beautiful Tina Aumont also delivers very strong work in the picture, while both Margareth Clémenti and Cicely Browne steal a few scenes as their respective character’s stories play out on screen. Angelica Houston and Reggie Nalder also have small parts in the film. Chesty Morgan’s name also appears in the opening credits but her scenes were reportedly deleted. This seems like a major misstep on the part of Fellini, but I digress.

    At times bordering on the surreal, Fellini’s Casanova may occasionally wallow in exploitation tropes but it does so with such styles and glee that you can’t really hold that against it.

    Fellini’s Casanova – Blu-ray Review:

    Fellini’s Casanova comes to Region A Blu-ray framed at 1.85.1 widescreen taking up 45.9.5GBs of space on a 50GB disc. Presented in AVC encoded 1080p high definition and taken from a new 4k remaster of the original 35mm negative, the image here looks good but isn’t quite perfect. Grain is sometimes clumpy looking, sometimes appearing to smear the background a bit in the darker scenes, which are frequent in the film, seemingly an issue with the encoding used on this release (the film is given a very high bit rate and plenty of space on the disc). It also looks quite a bit brighter than you might expect it to at times. Those issues aside, the picture quality otherwise looks very good. Colors are handled very well and detail is quite strong in pretty much every shot. Skin tones look good and there are no issues with any obvious noise reduction or edge enhancement. There isn’t much here in the way of print damage at all, the picture is very clean in that regard.

    Kino offers up both English and Italian language 24-bit DTS-HD 2.0 Mono options with optional English subtitles provided that translate Italian track and English SDH subtitles for the English track. Audio quality is excellent across the board, the tracks have a lot of appreciable depth to them and offer very clean, clear dialogue and beautiful range for the score. No problems with any hiss or distortion to note here at all, and the levels are always nicely balanced.

    Extras start off with an audio commentary by film critic Nick Pinkerton that covers all two-and-a-half-hours of the film's running time. It's a very detailed track, covering Fellini's life around this period in great detail but also going over the contributions of the different cast and crew members who collaborated with the director on this project. There's lots of information here on how Sutherland wound up in the lead role and thoughts on his work on this picture, notes on the score and the locations used in the film, how the film's version of the story compares to that of the real Casanova whose exploits inspired it and lots more.

    The disc also includes a theatrical trailer for the feature as well as menus and chapter selection options.

    Included inside the case alongside the disc is a booklet containing a seven-page essay by film scholar Alberto Zambenedetti entitled Fellini's Cinematic Music Box as well as credits for the feature and some notes on the restoration.

    Fellini’s Casanova - The Final Word:

    Fellini’s Casanova is sometimes shocking, sometimes beautiful but never less than fascinating. Worth seeing for the art direction alone, the film also features some great performances, with Sutherland really standing out here. Kino’s Blu-ray offers the film up in a good but less than perfect transfer, and the commentary offers some welcome history and analysis, which is always welcome when dealing with a film as unique as this one. Recommended.

    Click on the images below for full sized Fellini’s Casanova Blu-ray screen caps!