Bellissima DVD Review
Bellissima has a
but it is a meaningful one. This is the kind of story that will stay
long after the credits have ended. The film begins with an open
Cinecitta, where many mothers are taking their young daughters to
a part in what should be a successful Hollywood production. The story
in on one family: a mother named Maddalena Cecconi (Anna Magnani) and
daughter Bellissima. Cecconi wants her daughter to be cast in the
that she won't have to grow up living such an impoverished lifestyle as
are living as a lower-class family. Her dreams are built upon great
of desiring the best for her daughter but she doesn't consider what the
of her own child are and this is where some dramatic questions are
of the marks of a truly great film is when it can transcend the
become an entirely mesmerizing experience that you cannot help but
absorbed into. Visconti, one of the greatest Italian neorealist
one of the only directors capable of understanding this concept without
Bellissima is unlike other dramatic
or "melodramatic" films about the failings of Hollywood hopes because
portray the characters as simpletons who are unable to recognize the
filmmaking production. Visconti portrays the difficulties of attempting
break into the film industry with delicate precision. Cecconi is a
that recognizes the potential pitfalls but also recognizes potential
that could bring stardom, financial stability, and happiness: the kind
she receives at the local outdoor theater as she is able to escape into
dreamy celluloid wonders. Yet the happiness she feels watching a film
necessarily equal happiness for her daughter in starring in one. The
paved with golden roads.
characters seem almost to be real people instead. Filmmaking is a
industry for many people to break into and succeed in. Maddalena
Cecconi (Anna Magnani)
seems aware of this but she wants to give her daughter a prosperous
without the pain of poverty that she herself has known. The one crucial
that she seems to entirely forget to take into account is what it is
daughter would want for herself. Does Bellissima want to become a movie
child? Or is it only something that Cecconi has wanted for her? These
fundamental questions of the film and Visconti makes it the essential
the film above any other dramatic question. It makes Bellissima
an experience in storytelling, about the significance of
valuing someone without forming a superficial idea of what it is that
wants for themselves. Let the child speak and articulate their own
even if that means relying upon their nonverbal cues (a pivotal scene
in the film
features Bellissima crying to sleep after a long, laborious day
around constant preparation needed for the audition).
of neorealist cinema will
consider this a hidden gem. It is difficult to believe it has taken so
time for Bellissima to find its way into
a media release in North America. Even with such a considerable wait to
film it is well worth experiencing and the filmmaking quality is
high. It is difficult to imagine any fan of dramatic films, let alone
Italian ones, being even the slightest bit disappointed. The filmmaking
excellent from the opening frame to the final shot. Performances are
satisfying and memorable.
The fanbase for Magnani (who
delivered an award winning performance in The
Rose Tattoo) and Visconti (director of the critically acclaimed Senso, The Leopard, among
many others) will be pleased with this
outing, which takes the viewer on an emotionally charged journey
highs and lows of filmmaking and the high cost of the search for fame.
the original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.33:1 (full frame). The black
white cinematography is beautiful and well-reproduced. The details in
vibrancy and depth of the cinematography make experiencing the visuals
more impressive. This release has been promoted as having been restored
Bellissima has clearly undergone some
extensive restoration work for this release and there's little doubt
has never looked this good before now. Print damage seems nonexistent,
is impressive, and the sharpness is surprisingly relevant.
audio option is the original Italian mono
audio mix. This has clearly undergone some restoration as well. Hisses
other distracting audio problems are gone with the release. The clarity
ease of understanding the dialogue is impressive. Subtitles are
English (and are optional, as the subs can be removed if desired). The
downside to the subtitles is that the somewhat large yellow-text used
become distracting during the viewing experience, but that distraction
bonus feature (if you can even call it
that) is the original theatrical trailer. This is a somewhat relevant
mini-inclusion in that it easily demonstrates the huge improvements of
work because of the poor print quality used for the trailer's source.
kind of difference that makes one remember how important film
is for classic cinema.
Bellissima has an
incredible performance by Anna Magnani as a
strong-willed mother who is determined to give her daughter the
she never had. Luchino Visconti is a powerhouse filmmaker who can turn
ordinary subject into a fascinating character study with apparent ease.
Visconti may have struggled to make the film but it doesn't feel that
the slightest. This is masterful storytelling. There is a relevant
ingrained within about valuing emotional happiness over financial
it is one that has maintained just as much importance in today's world.
Happiness should always be first.
Neil Lumbard is a lifelong fan of cinema, and a student who aspires to make movies. He loves writing, and currently does in Texas.