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Rocco e i Suoi Fratelli


(Rocco and His Brothers)

Italy-France, 1960

Director: Luchino Visconti

Production: Titanus and Les Films Marceau; black and white, 35mm; running time: 182 minutes; length: 4,973 meters originally, usually distributed in versions of 3,600 meters. Released 15 October 1960, premiered at Venice Film Festival on 6 September 1960.

Producer: Goffredo Lombardo; subject: Luchino Visconti, Vasco Pratolini, and Suco Cecchi D'Amico; screenplay: Luchino Visconti, Suso Cocchi d'Amico, Pasquale Festa Campanile, Massimo Franciosa, and Enrico Medioli, from the book Il ponte della ghisolfa by Giovanni Testori; assistant directors: Jerry Macc and Lucio Orlandini; photography: Giuseppe Rotunno; editor: Mario Serandrei; sound: Giovanni Rossi; art director: Mario Garbuglia; music: Nino Rota; costume designer: Piero Tosi.

Cast: Alain Delon (Rocco); Renato Salvatori (Simone); Annie Girardot (Nadia); Katina Paxinou (Rosaria); Roger Hanin (Morini); Paolo Stoppa (Impresario); Suzy Delair (Luisa); Claudia Cardinale (Ginetta); Spiros Focas (Vincenzo); Rocco Vidolazzi (Luca); Corrado Pani (Ivo); Max Cartier (Ciro); Alessandra Panaro (Ciro's fiancée); Claudia Mori (Laundry worker); Becker Masocro (Nadia's mother).

Awards: David di Donatello prize for best production, 1960; Venice Film Festival, Special Jury Prize and International Film Critics Award, 1960; Festival of Workers (Czechoslovakia), First Prize, 1961.



Visconti, Luchino, Vasco Pratolini, and Suso Cecchi D'Amico, Rocco e i suoi fratelli, edited by Guido Aristarco and G. Carancini, Milan, 1960; also published Bologna, 1978; as Rocco and His Brothers, in Luchino Visconti: Three Screenplays, New York, 1970.


Elizondon, Salvador, Luchino Visconti, Mexico, 1963.

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Servadio, Gaia, Luchino Visconti, Milan, 1980; translated as LuchinoVisconti, New York, 1983.

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Prouse, Derek, in Sight and Sound (London), Winter 1960–61.

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* * *

Rocco e i suoi fratelli appeared in the same year as Fellini's La dolce vita, and together they indicated, in opposite ways, the major possibilities for the Italian cinema of that decade. As artistically successful as director Visconti's earlier La terra trema (1948) and Senso (1954), Rocco is, however, even more rigorous and has its roots in a larger and richer cultural base. Although not an adaption of any particular literary piece, it draws from works as diverse as Dostoevski's The Idiot (Myshkin inspiring the character of Rocco, Rogosin inspiring that of Simone), Giovanni Testori's stories of Milan (especially Ilponte della Ghisolfa), and Thomas Mann's Joseph and His Brothers. The film also displays the interests and the realistic style of most of Visconti's theatre work from 1945, which included studies of emigrants and the social community to which they belong, as in his staging of Arthur Miller's A View from a Bridge (1958). Most Italian critics saw this film as the finest example of the critical realism called for in the writings of Lukacs. Visconti himself saw it as a further examination of Verga's characterizations and Gramsci's analysis of the Southern social and political condition. In fact, Visconti considered Rocco a sequel to La terra trema.

Visconti's critical realism takes the form of a study of each member of a Sicilian family of five sons and a mother (some characters receiving more emphasis than others) who have emigrated to the industrial Northern city of Milan. Each character responds to his or her situation in utterly different ways. Visconti thus achieved a complex structure that was to be attempted again by Bertolucci, one of his greatest admirers, in 1900. Originally Visconti conceived of the film as built around the mother, but the final film analysed more closely the two middle sons, Rocco and Simone, both of whom become boxers but have entirely opposite personalities. Simone is fierce and instinctual; Rocco is passive and thoughtful. Rocco sacrifices himself, his love (Annie Girardot's portrayal of Nadia was universally praised), and his dreams, for his brother and his family. The last scene is devoted to Ciro, the son who reaches political awareness, the only member of the family to become truly a part of the urban community. Ciro's final speech to his younger brother reveals Visconti's intention to "arrive at social and political conclusions, having taken during the film the road of psychological investigation and faithful reconstruction of a drama."

Visconti often had problems with the censors, and Rocco was no exception. During production he was forced to change a location because it was felt that to film Nadia's death scene there would harm the tourist trade. At its world premiere in Venice, the film was projected with scenes cut and run with the soundtrack only. Many cuts were required before general release, and later the city of Milan refused to have it distributed there. The prints circulated in Italy run 45 minutes shorter than the original version. Nevertheless, Rocco was the first Visconti film to achieve enormous commercial success in its national market, and it convinced the film community that Visconti was indeed a major film director. For the most part, the film earned praise throughout the world, though a few critics abhorred the portrayal of violence and considered the film morally questionable.

—Elaine Mancini

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