The Film (3.5/5)
After taking the international cinema scene by storm with his films the Conformist, The Spider's Strategem, and what is likely his largest all time hit the Marlon Brando starring Last Tango in Paris, Bernardo Bertolucci was very highly regarded among the great directors of the world. As a follow up to Last Tango..., he decided on making an epic film that would chart the relationship between 2 friends from different socio-economic backgrounds throughout the first half of the 20th century. Bertolucci with the participation of 3 international studios would end up creating 1900, a 5 hour epic that would take viewers through childhood, work, love, and multiple wars.
The film tells the story of 2 boys Olmo (in adulthood Gerard Depardieu) and Alfredo (in adulthood Robert DeNiro) born on the same day in 1901. They live on the same estate, but come from different opposite backgrounds. Olmo is born into a poor family, while Alfredo is born into a family of rich land-owners. The two spend their childhood as close friends regardless of their differences, and then as World War I settles in Olmo goes out to fight. When he returns things have begun to change. Alfredo has taken over his Father's land, and the person hired to take charge of the property Attila (Donald Sutherland) is using his fascist belief system to control the workers. This occurs just as the fascist rise to power in Italy. The film then follows the friends through the struggles of fascist Italy through the 20's and 30's and finally through World War II.
1900 as previously mentioned runs 5 and a half hours, and that caused many problems for distributors during the film's initial run. The solution for producers involved cutting the film for content at time. This left 3 different version of the film, a sanitized European version that eschewed the sexuality of the uncut version, an American version that also trimmed the sexual elements plus an hour of the film's running time, there is also the uncut version. However, even in the film's uncut form the film was often displayed in 2 halves, which is also the way it is presented by Eureka in this set.
The film is quite an interesting piece from Bertolucci. It is certain heavy handed in it's politics, but this is expected from Bertolucci who spent his formative years as a member of the communist party. The film's narrative is interesting, though a bit difficult to get through at times mainly because of the running time, which I think works against developing an even pacing.
1900 is definitely worth a watch if for the combination of excellent performances that populate the film. We are also treated to a superb visual experience from cinematographer Vittaro Storaro. The score from Ennio Morricone is not one of his best, but it is fitting to the film, and is still quite solid.
Eureka Entertainment does another excellent job with Bertolucci's 1900. The film is presented in an superb 1:85:1 1080p AVC encoded transfer. The colors as presented are natural, well produced, and offer some excellent warm tones. The flesh tones are accurate, black levels, are inky and deep, and we have a intact organic grain structure present.
The Blu-ray has 2 audio options a DTS-HD MA 2.0 track in English and a DTS-HD MA mono track in Italian, both tracks are quite solid with dialogue, score and ambient effects coming through nicely, and no issues to report.
Eureka has put together a solid extras package for the Blu-ray edition of 1900. The first disc has a cast and crew featurette that runs a little over 13 minutes in length, after that we get 2 short video interviews with Storaro and Bertolucci. The second disc also features an hour long on set documentary about the making of the film. The disc is rounded off by the trailer, and the set includes a booklet.
Not Bertolucci's best film, but certainly one of his most interesting 1900 is an epic piece that condenses 50 years of Italian history and politics in 5.5 hours. The Blu-ray from Eureka looks and sound fantastic, and has some very solid extras to boot. RECOMMENDED.