(aka "Luna" )


directed by Bernardo Bertolucci
Italy 1979


Like the final act of "Last Tango in Paris," the whole of Bernardo Bertolucci's 1979 film "La Luna" is more compelling than it is emotionally coherent. With his story about a recently widowed opera singer whose attempts to wean her teenage son off heroin (with his syringes perhaps serving as a stand-in for the teat) lead to a fully realized sexual relationship between them, Bertolucci seems to be endeavouring to make the ultimate psychosexual statement here without having a lucid thesis in mind. The behaviours of the characters are always tantalizing and interesting, but frequently implausible, and by the end, the viewer is left with a jumble of half-baked notions about Oedipal love, motherhood, and emotional need that appears to come full-circle because the film has structural closure, but really doesn't.

That said, "La Luna" is as aesthetically bold as any film Bertolucci has made, with cinematography by Vittorio Storaro and an original score by Ennio Morricone. As cinema, it is lush and appropriately operatic, and its evocative visual images often border on the outright exotic. It's debatable whether or not they correspond to the emotional landscapes of the characters or simply exist independently, but they certainly deepen the already portentous narrative, showering its urgency with a certain sad indifference -- the indifference of gaudy spectacle. The performances by Jill Clayburgh and Matthew Barry as mother and son, respectively, are nothing if not intense, and while both actors often hit wrong and contradictory notes, the film succeeds at illustrating the almost spiritual depth of the intimacy between a mother and her son (established with immense grace by the opening scene), so that when it does become sexual, it is indeed more Oedipal than incestuous -- that is to say, Bertolucci's willingness to shock here is legitimized, at least, by his representation of The Human Condition as Bertolucci sees it. That the film is finally so devoid of insight is the real shocker.

Paul Haynes


Theatrical Release: September 29, 1979 - New York Film Festival

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DVD Review: Kinowelt / Arthaus - Region 2 - PAL

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Kinowelt / Arthaus

Region 2 - PAL

Runtime 136 min (4% PAL speedup)

1.85:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 6.5 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.


Audio English (Dolby Digital 1.0), German 1.0 (Dolby Digital 1.0)
Subtitles German, None
Features Release Information:
Studio: Kinowelt / Arthaus

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.85:1

Edition Details:
• Photo gallery (pressbook stills)
• Filmographies (German text)
• Interview with Bernardo Bertolucci (German text)
• Background information about the film (German text)
• Information about music used in the film (German text)
• Advertising materials
• Trailers for other Arthaus releases

DVD Release Date: 4/21/2006

Chapters 24





A characteristically stunning transfer from Arthaus, which has apparently emerged as Germany's equivalent to America's Criterion. The image is crisp, clean, and sharp, with vivid colors and natural contrast and grain, with only occasional noise visible over black in darkly lit scenes. The disc is dual-layered with a progressive transfer, and the monaural sound presents no problems. The original soundtrack, included on this disc, is 99% in English, yet there's the odd instance of Italian dialogue here and there. Although the disc contains only removable German subtitles, I didn't sense that the Italian dialogue contributed anything vital to the film.

This disc comes with a catalogue insert of Arthaus's other releases. Special features include filmographies, a photo gallery (whose images look culled from the pressbook), advertising materials, and additional text supplements -- such as an interview with Bertolucci -- all written in German. While the supplements are not a significant selling point, the film has probably not looked this good since its release. Despite its critical reception at the time, "La Luna" has its followers, and it's long been an elusive film to obtain, existing only as bootlegs (recorded from cable airings) and a Japanese laserdisc (with frontal nudity censored). Those awaiting a proper DVD release of this won't be disappointed. out of

 - Paul Haynes



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Kinowelt / Arthaus

Region 2 - PAL


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