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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Il Sorpasso [Blu-ray]


(Dino Risi, 1962)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Incei Film

Video: Criterion Collection Spine #707



Region: 'A' (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:45:29.906 

Disc Size: 47,557,166,238 bytes

Feature Size: 23,759,646,720 bytes

Video Bitrate: 26.29 Mbps

Chapters: 18

Case: Transparent Blu-ray case

Release date: April 29th, 2014



Aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



LPCM Audio Italian 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 24-bit



English (SDH), none



• New introduction by filmmaker Alexander Payne (5:17)
New interviews with screenwriter Ettore Scola (14:15) and film scholar Rémi Fournier Lanzoni (15:43)

Interview from 2004 with director Dino Risi, conducted by film critic Jean A. Gili (20:02)
Introduction by actor Jean-Louis Trintignant from a 1983 French television broadcast of the film (8:32)
A Beautiful Vacation, a 2006 documentary on Risi featuring interviews with the director and his collaborators and friends (55:21)
Excerpts from a 2012 documentary that returns to Castiglioncello, the location for the film’s beach scenes (11:02)
Speaking with Gassman, a 2005 documentary on the relationship between actor Vittorio Gassman and Risi, directed by Risi’s son Marco (30:47)
Trailer (2:26)
PLUS: An essay by critic Phillip Lopate, an essay by critic Antonio Monda (dual-format only), as well as excerpts from Risi’s writings, with an introduction by film critic Valerio Caprara (dual-format only)





Description: The ultimate Italian road comedy, Il sorpasso stars the unlikely pair of Vittorio Gassman and Jean-Louis Trintignant as, respectively, a waggish, freewheeling bachelor and the straitlaced law student he takes on a madcap trip from Rome to Tuscany. An unpredictable journey that careers from slapstick to tragedy, this film, directed by Dino Risi, is a wildly entertaining commentary on the pleasures and consequences of the good life. A holy grail of commedia all’italiana, Il sorpasso is so fresh and exciting that one can easily see why it has long been adored in Italy.



The Film:

Regarded by many as Dino Risi's finest film, The Easy Life (Il Sorpasso) casts Vittorio Gassman as Bruno, a jaded, aging roue, who introduces young Roberto Mariani Jean-Louis Trintignant to his hedonistic lifestyle.. Previously a man with a purpose in life, Roberto soon becomes as wanton and wastrelly as Bruno. The older man is proud of his handiwork--until tragedy strikes. Risi sagaciously sets his moral fable against the beauties of the Riviera; we may not approve of Bruno's lifestyle, but we certainly understand why it appeals to him. Among the screenwriters of The Easy Life was Ettora Scola, a frequent Dino Risi and Vittorio de Sica collaborator and an excellent director in his own right.

Excerpt from MRQE located HERE

As far as an ideal concept of modernity, Bruno is about the best example there could be. His attitude and actions are absorbing. There’s little doubt about it, he’s a funny guy, a walking adventure, and his heedless behavior and his disregard for authority and authoritarian social systems stand as, for many, unattainable, though desired, exploits. His modernity is one of pure energy, of doing what one feels like, when one feels like, without consequences or policies. This modernity is all about the now, having a good time, making the most out of life, getting your kicks any way you can. To quote Scarface, “the world is yours.” But, as we see (the end couldn’t be more tragic) this doesn’t often work out totally for the positive. No matter the shape of a blossoming and invigorating modernity, the literal and more abstract customs of life are restrictive, sometimes for the better (there’s a reason one isn’t supposed to drive like Bruno does). Bruno’s behavior also gets himself in a fight and, whether or not he is actually cognizant of it, his actions truly hurt people. It may all look great to behave in such a fashion, but society dictates moderation and responsibility. Within a modernity of impulse and dynamism, any given system of customary social manners is continually conflicted.

Excerpt from Jeremy Carr Studies in Cinema located HERE

Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

Il Sorpasso looks reasonably solid on Blu-ray from Criterion.  This is dual-layered with a supportive bitrate. Contrast is excellent and the image quality is fairly consistent aside from a few glossy sequences. I noted no strong damage. It is in the 1.85:1 aspect ratio and detail has impressive moments. They are a few examples of depth. I don't discount a bit of digital augmentation but I never found it intrusive upon the visuals. This Blu-ray provides an enjoyable 1080P presentation.
















Audio :

Audio is transferred via a faithful linear PCM mono track at 1152 kbps in the original Italian. I didn't notice any out-of-sync post dubbing and the score by Riz Ortolani (Woman Times Seven, Cannibal Holocaust, The Voyeur, Mondo Cane) supports the film. There were no strong instances of depth but the audio was very consistent. There are optional English subtitles and a brief scene with two attractive girls with rather lavish Italian subtitles when the gals are speaking German, My Oppo has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked disc.


Extras :

Criterion really stack the supplements. It starts with a 5-minute introduction by filmmaker Alexander Payne (Sideways.) There are new interviews - the first with screenwriter (and award-winning director) Ettore Scola who worked with Dino Risi on a number of films, including Il Sorpasso. In this 14-minute interview, conducted by Criterion in November 2013 Scola talks about Italian comedy filmmaking in the sixties, writing the character of Bruno, and the necessity of the film's tragic ending. Il Sorpasso was Italy's highest growing film of 1962 and among the most beloved movies of the golden age of commedia all'italiana, which lasted from the late 50s to the 70s. In a 2014, 15-minute, interview with film scholar Rémi Fournier Lanzoni explains why the film resonates with Italian audiences, the social commentary embedded in its comedy, and how the movie embodies Dino Risi's style. There is a 20-minute interview, conducted in 2004 by film critic Jean A. Gili, director Dino Risi discusses true stories that inspired Il Sorpasso, why Vittorio Gassman was an unexpected choice for the leading role, and the film's influence on Italian cinema. In 1983 actor Jean-Louis Trintignant sat down with his fellow actor Marie-Christine Barrault to introduce Il Sorpasso for an airing of the film on the French television program Cine Passion. In their 9-minute conversation he talks about being cast in the role of Roberto after shooting had already started and the filming of the final scene. We also get a an 11-minute excerpt of a 2012 documentary that returns to Castiglioncello, the location for the film’s beach scenes where much of the second half of Il Sorpasso takes place. It has members of the cast and crew. Largest of the extra features is the 55-minute A Beautiful Vacation, a 2006 documentary on Risi featuring interviews with the director and his collaborators, family and friends. It was filmed on the occasion of the director's 90th birthday who talks candidly about his personal successes and the obstacles he faced. Director Dino Risi and actor Vittorio Gassman made 16 films together over three decades. In 2005, 5 years after Gassman's death, Risi’s son Marco made a documentary on the relationship between actor Vittorio Gassman and Risi. 1/2 hour's worth of excerpts are included on the Blu-ray. There is also a trailer plus the package contains a limner notes booklet with an essay by critic Phillip Lopate, an essay by critic Antonio Monda (dual-format only), as well as excerpts from Risi’s writings, with an introduction by film critic Valerio Caprara (dual-format only.) A DVD is included.



Il Sorpasso is a masterpiece. Italian tragicomedy at its zenith. Absolutely brilliant on multiple levels. The Criterion Blu-ray package offers a great a/v presentation and magnificent, diligently procured extras. It has our strongest recommendation. Buy with extreme confidence. 

Gary Tooze

April 16th, 2014


About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

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