Roberto Rossellini: Director's Series - 2-disc Collector's Edition

Dov'Ŕ la libertÓ...? (1954)         Era Notte a Roma (1960)

Product description (from LionsGate): Roberto Rossellini shot his first film at the invitation of Vittorio Mussolini, son of the Italian dictator. Even his early films had a profound effect: Rossellini was credited with launching the Italian Neorealism movement that used non-actors and real locations to showcase the plight of working-class Italians. Legendary French directors including Andre Bazin, Francois Truffaut and Jean-Luc Godard also called him the godfather of the French New Wave style. The ROBERTO ROSSELINI 2-DISC COLLECTOR'S EDITION includes two films never before seen on DVD in the U.S. DOV'E LA LIBERTA...? (WHERE IS FREEDOM?) Rossellini's darkly comic satire showcases the great Italian comic TOTO as a barber who is imprisoned for murdering his wife's suspected lover. After twenty years, Salvatore leaves the prison walls to find the world he once knew gone. Salvatore realizes he has no choice but to find a way back to prison where he feels certain he will be happier. In ERA NOTTE A ROMA (ESCAPE BY NIGHT), an emotional war drama set in Nazi-occupied Rome, a beautiful bootlegger (GIOVANNA RALLI) gives sanctuary to three escaped POWs - an American pilot, a Russian sergeant and a British major. By taking them in, she tragically jeopardizes the safety of her Communist lover while the confinement of the trapped prisoners brings their uneasy alliance to a boiling point, symbolizing the chaos of the world around them.

NOTE: It seems the description from Lionsgate's website (above) is fraught with inaccuracies as noted by fellow DVDBeaver ListServ member Tag Gallagher:

Roberto Rossellini shot his first film at the invitation of Vittorio Mussolini, son of the Italian dictator. Not true.  His first two films were shorts about fish.  His first feature, La nave bianca, had no connection to Vittorio Mussolini.  His second feature, Un pilota ritorna, was based on a story by Vittorio Mussolini and with a company of which VM was the nominal head but in actuality had nothing to do with (because he was fighting a war at the time); he certainly did not "invite" Rossellini (although he did invite Renoir to come to Italy).  Rossellini's connection to the production company was through its actual head, Franco Riganti, a friend from boyhood, who also backed some of DeSica's first films and gave Fellini his first work.
Even his early films had a profound effect: Rossellini was credited with launching the Italian Neorealism movement that used non-actors and real locations to showcase the plight of working-class Italians.
 Not true.  First, there was no movement: the term "neo-realism" was an invention of critics AFTER all the films had been made, and there was never a movement, a collective, or anything of the sort.  The various filmmakers later dumped into this ism had radically different notions about what they were doing and were not professionally associated.
    Second, Rossellini did not use non-actors.  Anna Magnani and Aldo Fabrizi were the biggest boxoffice stars of the time (Open City), and it was their presence which enabled him to get financing; most of the others came from Italian theater.  Paisan was cast with off-Broadway American professional actors. 
    Third, real locations had always been used in Italian cinema.  But the problem was that it cost many many times more to shoot on location.  Paisan was the most expensive Italian film of the 1940s and Bicycle Thieves was almost as bad.  Moreover, almost all of Open City was shot in a studio, and part of Paisan was as well.
    Fourth, none of Rossellini's films ever showcased working-class Italians, let alone their plight.  The two exceptions would include Dov'Ŕ, which was made long after so-called "neo-realism" was over, and the secondary characters in Europe '51, which is chiefly about uppermiddleclass people.
 
Legendary French directors including Andre Bazin, Francois Truffaut and Jean-Luc Godard also called him the godfather of the French New Wave style.
No one until (this description) ever called him the godfather of a style, and I don't think any of these three ever actually called him the godfather of the New Wave (which was far closer to being a movement, and had far more intimate connections between the principals, than "neo-realism," which never existed in  any way, shape or form).  The godfather title was bestowed by others...

(Thanks kindly Tag!)


(aka 'Dov'Ŕ la libertÓ...? ' or 'Where is Freedom?')

Directed by Roberto Rossellini
Italy 1954

This dark satire gets our vote as the most scandalously unknown of Rossellini's films; it's something of a masterpiece and deserves a wide audience. (See it now, as you may never have another chance.) Designed to showcase the great Neapolitan comic Tot˛, he of the thrust chin, elastic limbs, and pinball eyes, DOV'╚ LA LIBERT└...? is an exploration of the themes of imprisonment and freedom, told (unusually for Rossellini) in flashback. Tot˛ plays Salvatore, a sweet-natured Roman barber who has been in prison for twenty years after he cut the throat of his best friend for having an affair with his wife. Released into a very different world than the one he knew, Salvatore encounters a series of perfidious tricksters, cold-hearted con men, and greedy schemers. Friends and family offer no refuge; they, too, are treacherous. Like so many of Rossellini's characters, the decent Salvatore finds the world untenable, and takes drastic action to ensure that he does not have to suffer its iniquity any longer. Working in a far more serious mode than he was accustomed to, Tot˛ is superb as the artless barber, who some critics have seen as a variation on the character of the saintly, isolated Irene in EUROPA 51, while others have condemned as spiritual sibling to Celestino in THE MACHINE TO KILL BAD PEOPLE - a self-appointed arbiter of morality with bourgeois notions of innocence. "For my taste, Rossellini's best film, and of the few I completely love. . . . It stupefied me with its cruelty and bitterness. It's a parable of the purest Swiftian type, unpitying and almost intolerable" (Pierre Kast, Cahiers du cinÚma).

Posters

Theatrical Release: June 12th, 1947

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DVD Review: Lionsgate (2-disc) - Region 1 - NTSC

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Distribution Lionsgate - Region 1 - NTSC
Runtime 1:31:09 
Video 1.33:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.83 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s 

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

Bitrate:

Audio Italian (Dolby Digital 2.0) 
Subtitles English, None
Features

Release Information:
Studio: Lionsgate

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1

Edition Details:

• none

DVD Release Date:
November 11th, 2008
Keep Case
inside a cardboard box
Chapters: 12

 

Comments:

A single-layered DVD transfer and interlaced (see sample below) but aside from those weaknesses - the image quality is pretty good. Contrast is strong and detail very acceptable - actually considering the age - surprisingly good. I don't see excessive manipulation but am getting tired of these frugal transfers from Lionsgate. The, relatively weak, Italian track is supported with optional English or Spanish subtitles.

No extras at all but this humorous film might have been enticing as a DVD purchase had the second disc with 'Era Notte a Roma' been up-to-snuff'. But it isn't. Why do they even bother putting out such inferior digital productions? 

Gary W. Tooze

 



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Subtitle Sample

 

 


 

Screen Captures

 

 


 

 


 

 


'Combing' visible

 

 

(aka 'Era Notte a Roma' or 'Blackout in Rome' or 'Escape by Night' or 'Wait for the Dawn')

 

Directed by Roberto Rossellini
Italy / Germany / Russia 1960

 

Stylistically an intriguing (and not wholly successful) mixture of Rossellini's early 'realism', Bergman-period melodrama, and the contemplative didacticism of his later films, this return to the milieu of Nazi-occupied Rome may not have the raw power of Rome, Open City, but is immensely affecting all the same. Three escaped Allied PoWs - a Brit, an American and a Russian - take refuge in the home of Roman black marketeer Ralli, whose Communist lover (Salvatori) is executed when they are betrayed by a corrupt, Nazi-collaborator priest. On one level, it's a fairly straightforward suspense movie, detailing the countless threats to the safety of the fugitives and the woman who provides sanctuary; on another, it's an unsentimental, PaisÓ-like celebration of the shared humanity that allows the various characters to communicate with one another despite linguistic differences and the wariness born of perilous circumstance. An uneven, flawed, but very intelligent work of enormous humanity.

Excerpt from TimeOut Film Guide located HERE

Posters

Theatrical Release: July 31st, 1960

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DVD Review: Lionsgate - Region 1 - NTSC

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CLICK to order from:

Distribution Lionsgate - Region 1 - NTSC
Runtime 2:13:32  
Video 1.53:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 6.48 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s 

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

Bitrate:

Audio Italian (2.0) 
Subtitles English, Spanish, None
Features

Release Information:
Studio: Lionsgate

Aspect Ratio:
Aspect Ratio 1.53:1

Edition Details:

• none

DVD Release Date:
November 11th, 2008
Keep Case inside a cardboard box
Chapters: 12

 

 

Comments:

NOTE: We reviewed the very weak Optimum Home Entertainment - Region 2 - PAL HERE.

Unfortunately, even being dual-layered, this doesn't really fare any better than UK disc transfer (it may be marginally more detailed with deeper black levels). It is heavily pictureboxed and letterbox widescreen at around 1.55:1. Quite unfortunate that it is still not 16X9 enhanced. The image quality lacks detail, and shows spots of boosted contrast and noticeable scratches.  The Italian audio track is imperfect but supported with optional English or Spanish subtitles.

I had hoped, as with the Bunuel 2-disc CE set HERE, that commentaries would be included, but instead this smells of an overpriced money-grab offering nothing at all in the way of supplements. Even if one of the transfers had been progressive I might have an inking to encourage a purchase but we, instead, recommend a 'pass'. Not on our watch Lionsgate. 

Gary W. Tooze

 

 



DVD Menus


 


Subtitle Sample

 

Lionsgate - Region 1 - NTSC TOP vs. Optimum Home Entertainment - Region 2 - PAL BOTTOM (REVIEWED HERE)

 

 


 

Screen Captures

 

 


 

 


Bad 'combing' and 'ghosting'

 

 


 

DVD Box Cover

   

CLICK to order from:

Distribution Lionsgate - Region 1 - NTSC




 

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