Directors: Paolo Taviani and Vittorio Taviani
Production: Filmtre, for RAI Channel 1; Eastmancolor; running time: 187 minutes; length: 16,816 feet. Released 1984.
Producer: Giuliani G. De Negri; screenplay: Paolo Taviani, Vittorio Taviani, and Tonino Guerra, from Novelle per un anno by Luigi Pirandello; photography: Giuseppe Lanci; editor: Roberto Perpignani; sound recordist: Sandro Zanon; sound re-recordist: Fausto Ancillai; art director: Francesco Bronzi; costumes: Lina Nerli Taviani; music: Nicola Piovani.
Cast: L'Altro figlio (The Other Son): Margarita Lozano (spoken by Fiorella Mari) (Mother); Mali di luna (Moon Sickness): Claudio Bigagli (Bata); Enrica Maria Modugno (Sidora); Massimo Bonetti (Saro); Anna Malvica (Sidora's Mother); La giara (The Jar): Ciccio Ingrassia (Don Lollo); Franco Franchi (Zi' Diam); Requiem: Biagio Barone (Salvatore); Salvatore Rossi (Patriarch); Franco Scaldati (Father Sarso); Pasquale Spadola (Baron); Colloquio con la madre (Conversing with Mother): Omero Antonutti (Luigi Pirandello); Regina Bianchi (Mother).
Variety (New York), 12 September 1984.
Coleman, John, in New Statesman (London), 5 October 1984.
Robinson, David, in Times (London), 5 October 1984.
Bianco e Nero (Rome), October-December 1984.
Rayns, Tony, in Monthly Film Bulletin (London), November 1984.
Ranvaud, Don, "Taking the Centre Ground," in Monthly FilmBulletin (London), November 1984.
Adair, Gilbert, "La tragedia dell'arte," in Sight and Sound (London), Winter 1984–85.
Wahlstedt, T., in Chaplin (Stockholm), vol. 27, no. 3, 1985.
Amiel, M., and J. Kermabon, in Cinéma (Paris), January 1985.
Legrand, Gérard, in Positif (Paris), January 1985.
Martin, Marcel, in Revue du Cinéma/lmage et Son (Paris), January 1985.
Philippon, A., in Cahiers du Cinéma (Paris), January 1985.
Delmas, G., and A. Tournes, "Quand la terre est protagoniste: Kaos," in Jeune Cinéma (Paris), January-February 1985.
Orto, N., in Cinema Nuovo (Bari), February 1985.
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Listener (London), 27 October 1988.
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Trémois, Claude-Marie, "Fiorile: Fantômes de la liberté," in Télérama (Paris), no. 2262, 19 May 1993.
* * *
While films are traditionally considered collaborative efforts, few have been so to the extent that two directors have purposefully initiated collaboration on the same film. Yet the Italian directors and scenarists Paolo and Vittorio Taviani, like their older English counterparts Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, have uniquely created through their writing and directing duality some of the most innovative films of the last decade.
Though the brothers began working as a team in the mid-1950s, their international fame was not well established until the release of Padre padrone in 1977. Night of the Shooting Stars (1983), coming after their reputations had grown, was also an international critical success.
Thus their 1984 film Kaos, loosely adapted by themselves and co-writer Tonino Guerra from short stories contained in Luigi Pirandello's Novelle per un anno, was chosen to close the 1985 New York Film Festival. Though it was not a resounding success and was not generally released in the U.S., some critics ranked it above the Taviani's previous works.
For Kaos, the Tavianis utilized the infrequently seen compendium format, separate short films loosely tied together by a theme or locale. Kaos, a title taken from the Greek word for chaos, which formed the linguistic root of the name for an area near Pirandello's birthplace in Sicily, consists of four separate stories, a prologue, and an epilogue, each illustrating aspects of Sicilian life. These cinematic folk tales, though, like Pirandello's works, contain universal elements that transcend the superficial quaintness of the stories.
Of the four tales, "The Other Son," "Moon Sickness," "The Jar," and "Requiem," the story of a lonely wife and her husband who becomes insane during the full moon, is considered the best. The brief segment before "The Other Son" sets the somber pace of the film and introduces the signature of the flying crow which is seen throughout the other segments, threading them together. The epilogue completes the cycle with Pirandello himself (played by the Taviani favorite Omero Antonutti) conversing with his mother about a pleasant experience from her childhood.
Though each segment is filmed in the aesthetic starkness typical of the Tavianis' work (which might appropriately be labelled "neo-neo Realism"), they are peppered with Pirandello's ironic fatalism: things are what they are, yet not as they seem; the lines between sanity and order and chaos and insanity cannot be distinctly drawn. His stories reflect characteristics of his region, but the psychological make-up of the characters and their sociological choices can be parallelled in any time or age.
The Tavianis have taken the currents of the Pirandello stories, if not their exact content, and elaborated them in a simple, muted style, with lingering shots and recurring images. While some critics have occasionally found their style too heavy-handed, it blends perfectly with the simple, yet unsettling nature of Pirandello's works.
—Patricia King Hanson