Il Sorpasso Blu Review
Il Sorpasso is regarded as one of the
finest of all
Italian comedies. Released in 1962, the film was first put into
little fanfare and box-office expectations. The film quickly became an
incredible success based on audiences reactions and word of mouth that
was something special. It ended up becoming the highest grossing film
of the year and it was thrown an incredible amount of accolades at the
time. Today, Il Sorpasso is still regarded as a classic, and
influence has been seen on numerous films, including both Dennis
Rider and Alexander Payne's Sideways. Director Dino Risi
success in making what was never intended as a inspirational
cinema, but that is exactly what the film has become. Without a doubt, Il
Sorpasso is a genuine classic of Italian cinema which should be
as essential viewing.
The story begins simply in many respects. The film
with the jubilant and easygoing Bruno Cortona (Vittorio Gassman)
Italy. Bruno is planning a road trip through Rome and surrounding
doesn't want to go alone and brings with the law student Roberto
Trintignant), who initially doesn't want to go on the road trip with
abundantly spirited charisma of Bruno keeps Roberto along for the ride.
journey is an interesting one full of surprises.
The journey begins as a trip for a bit of lunch
becomes an overarching road trip of far greater proportions. Roberto
for the entire trip with a sentiment from Bruno that he'll pay him
stop off a dance club, at a garden site in which they noticed some
women they wanted to ask out (but then did not even have enough courage
to lunch with them), and to a restaurant, a night-club, and to the
beach where Bruno goes to see his ex-wife (Luciana Angiolillo), and his
daughter who he hasn't tried to see in so many years. This reunion with
family, whom he has not seen in a long time, is one which leads the
directly into its more dramatic core as a character study and towards
ultimately a tragic conclusion.
The film both explores the entertaining
adventure of these character's travels across country to such extent
English title for the film was once called 'The Easy Life'. Yet
of the story is actually one which paints these characters with a more
inquisitive look into their story. Bruno is seemingly always happy and
easygoing but is actually someone who has failed to take care of either
himself, his wife, or his daughter. (At one point, he is referred to
as a child). He seems much more complex and perhaps much deeper as a
the film to explore as one considers the story as it unfolds: at least
the layers of the character not seen at the start.
Roberto is someone who has far less of an outgoing
He mostly seems to keep to himself. For starters, he is incredibly
much so that he eventually discusses his affections for a neighbor girl
would like to marry after graduating from school, yet Roberto has only
to her one time. Roberto is far from a individual with good social
Bruno mainly studies and tries to focus first on a possible career in a
he isn't sure of for himself. This
polarity to Roberto is one of the ways the storytelling fascinates.
The performances are uniformly excellent in Il
most especially from the brilliant and energetic Vittorio Gassman.
gives a first-rate performance in the film that ultimately helped to
make it the
classic it's heralded as. He worked for years as a theatrical actor and
many Shakespearean plays prior to making a number of dramatic films
poorly (one after another) within the Italian box-office. Il
a change of pace for him in that it generally wasn't the case that he
comedies. Yet this film was a blend of comedy and drama which fit his
style perfectly. Bruno was an amazing
role for Gassman to be able to play, and he made it one of the best and
well received moments in his acting career. Even with moments that at
glance seem merely comedic, there are some fascinating emotions that
from Gassman's eyes which gives pause and wonder to the character that
even in the script.
The script is uniformly excellent, though. The
seem basic and not too complex at the beginning but the film feels like
metaphor of sorts for what can happen when living life on the fast lane
does. This all builds to the grand finale that no doubt left a large
upon moviegoers of '62.
The direction of the film is impeccable. Dino Risi
an incredible job with the way this film flows and the energy the film
presents. It is fast paced and energetic in parts of the film in ways
films are almost always incapable of presenting in modern movies. The
just jumps into things with such ferocity that one is fascinated by the
zippiness of the car and how Risi presents the footage of Roberto
around Rome. This is some of the finest footage ever filmed for a road
movie. One almost can't even fathom that it was filmed in the 60's. The
camera-shots are also so impeccable chosen and framed. The way that
handled seems so ahead of everything else of the time. Most Hollywood
used standard prop backgrounds and nothing else for car footage but in Il
Sorpasso the energy is dramatically heightened by the ambitious
Risi is also intelligent at slowing down the film
moments between the characters. Through these moments some of the most
unexpected and most impressive shots exist; so unbelievably artistic in
that it feels almost as if Italian cinema is having a New Wave
own. Italian cinema (especially of the 60's and 70's) is some of the
Somehow this film manages to also add a unique spot in the history of
country and it's fascinating output through the medium.
The cinematography by Alfio Contini is impressive
The black and white photography seems to present the locations toured
the film with great realization that only a truly phenomenal
provide. The lighting is so effectively realized too. Add in a
provided by composer Riz Ortolani, and the results are stunning
Il Sorpasso is a surprising film on many
The story begins almost as if it's existence came immediately and out
and the flow of the film leads to many a comedic moment and a more
second half which ultimately is more complex and fascinating. The
and actors involved made a classic: a masterpiece that is one outstanding
road-trip movie which will continue to influence and surprise
decades to come.
Il Sorpasso arrives on Blu-ray with a
MPEG-4 AVC encoded High Definition presentation. The film looks
the most part with excellent black levels, depth, and detail. The film
restored from 35mm source prints and at 2K resolution. The film is
to being a completely magnificent presentation, with a respectable
encode that works well with the black and white photography. The film
has had a
lot of improvements in the area of print damage with a lot of manual
made to restore it. Occasional minor print damage is still seen and one
moments seem to even suggest a minor tear on the print used. Mostly,
this is a terrific presentation of Il Sorpasso that will surely
serious fans of the film satisfied.
The audio is presented in lossless mono Italian
with 24 bit
depth encoding. It's a stunning audio presentation for a mono audio
it leaves the dialogue sounding entirely clear and quite easy to
music score also sounds terrific with this amazing high quality
presentation. Optional English subtitles are provided.
Supplements on this release are bountiful and are
impressive. All of the on disc extras are encoded in High Definition
though a few were from SD source material). Criterion has included a
features essays about the film from select film critics and some of
Dino Risi's writings.
On disc extras
Trailer (3 min.)
Introduction by Alexander Payne (6 min.)
brief overview and tribute from the great filmmaker of Sideways,
and The Descendants.
Dino Risi (20 min) showcases an archival
with the filmmaker of Il Sorpasso.
Jean-Louis Trintignant (9 min.) was an interview done with the actor from Il
Sorpasso before a television airing occurred in the 80's.
Ettore Scola (15 min.) is an interview with
director who helped write Il Sorpasso when he was just a screenwriter
Remi Fournier Lanzoni (16 min.) is an
with a film scholar who helps to break down their themes and ideas.
Back to Castiglioncello (11 min. excerpt)
footage from documentary filmed at same locations where the movie was
and this features interviews with cast/crew.
A Beautiful Vacation (56 min.) is a
the life and career of director Dino Risi.
Speaking with Gassman (31 min.) is a
by Dino Risi's son about their working relationship as an actor and
Il Sorpasso is a
magnificent piece of filmmaking with
excellent direction, cinematography, and music. This
is an quality release of a classic of Italian cinema and it
should belong within the collections of any fan of Italian cinema and
Neil Lumbard is a lifelong fan of cinema, and a student who aspires to make movies. He loves writing, and currently does in Texas.