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Love and Anger

NoShame Films // Unrated // October 25, 2005
List Price: $29.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Svet Atanasov | posted October 25, 2005 | E-mail the Author
The Film: As strange as it may sound political propaganda films have been around for quite some time now. Only recently however I began noticing that the "old classics" started receiving the much needed polishing, maybe because of the rather polarized political climate we are currently experiencing or maybe because their time has just come, so when I found out that Love and Anger was set to be released in North America the news put a smile on my face.

For those unfamiliar with Love and Anger this is a rather biased experimental project by five classic European directors well known for their political views- Marco Bellocchio, Bernardo Bertolucci, Jean-Luc Godard, Carlo Lizzani, and Pier Paolo Pasolini. As you could guess each director contributed with a short story that at least in my opinion does not shy away from professing a passionate support for the cause of the progressive political forces a.k.a the (far) left. Or so it seems from the honest political statements each director has snuck in. The surprising element here is that supposedly they are all based on texts from the Bible and transported into a modern-day setting.

L'Indifferenza is a story about a woman being raped in a risky part of the city while a man on the opposite side of town is desperately attempting to rescue the life of his wife which has suffered a serious car accident. Unfortunately neither the rape victim nor the man and his badly injured wife manage to receive any help that would have prevented the two tragedies from happening. On the contrary they are faced with cold indifference from those that actually witness their suffering and are purposefully ignored.

Agonia, the second story in this collection of films, tells the story of a dying man who is exposed to some sort of spiritual ritual recreating the true agony the human soul is bound to experience before it leaves the body. Directed by Bernardo Bertolucci this particular segment is truly the one that will test your tolerance for experimental moviemaking. Almost entirely devoid of any dialog yet filled with never-ending moaning and groaning "recreating" the agony process Agonia goes a bit too far even for my taste. Nevertheless fans of the Maestro would like to give it a shot if for nothing else at least for the sake of testing a side of Bertolucci which appears rather unusual to say the least-his fascination with abstract cinema.

La sequenza del fiore di carta, the third installment in this collection, follows a young Italian man through the streets of Rome while many are staging an anti-war protest. Clearly the most dated of the five stories La sequenza del fiore di carta is also the most likeable one. There is something attractive in seeing genuine war-protest scenes from the 1960s that would seem quite familiar to many that followed the turbulent events in America from the last couple of years (the riots in Seattle, Washington DC, etc). A curious if not too familiar take on a part of Italian history that many still debate with a passion.

L'Amore, the fourth installment in the collection, is directed by Jean-Luc Godard and follows the discussion between a man and a woman observing a couple in love. The man speaks Italian while the woman speaks French. While well-put together and with some interesting "observations" L'Amore might well be one of Godard's too quick yet too pretentious attempts in experimental filmmaking. Furthermore there are some very familiar stylistic Godrard-esque elements…a provocative statement countered with a more provocative answer, an edgy comment replied to with a philosophical remark, etc. The core of this short story however remains clearly structured upon Godard's famous fascination with Karl Marx and his revolutionary theories.

Discutiamo, discutiamo is the fifth and final installment in Love and Anger. Somewhat thematically linked to the ideals shared by Godard Discutiamo, discutiamo walks us into the classroom of a professor and his students where bold politically-charged statements are being made. Once again inspired by Marx and his revolutionary philosophy this is a short film that hardly brings any closure to the collection yet it reaffirms my conviction that it is nothing more than an attempt to explore the uneasy political climate of the 1960s.

So what are the redeeming values of Love and Anger? The easiest and safest answer would be that as long as you understand that these are all experimental short features that should not be taken with the degree of seriousness one should address the full-length films of Bertolucci, Godard, Bellocchio, Pasolini, and Lizzani Love and Anger actually delivers a good feel of what film directors in Europe wanted to concentrate on at the time-bold, provocative, at times brash political pictures that were meant to reinvigorate the social consciousness of its viewers. Whether or not they managed to do so with their work I leave for you to decide. At least for me the answer is obvious.

How Does the DVD Look? Presented in its original aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and enhanced for widescreen TV's Love and Anger looks exceptionally well for a film this old. Properly flagged, with a minimal degree of dirt or damage (I only spotted a spec or two), with great contrast and steady color scheme, No Shame have delivered a print that gets two huge thumbs up from me. I have no complaints whatsoever.

How Does the DVD Sound? Presented with its original soundtracks (during various stages of the presentation French, English, and Italian are being spoken and English subtitles are optional where necessary) Love and Anger has undergone some obvious, at least as far as I am concerned, restoration work. Great if not excellent presentation.

Extras: Aside from the standard for No Shame beautiful booklet which includes linear notes, biography notes and short essays for Bertolucci, Lizzani, Pasolini, Godard, and Bellocchio, and reproductions of the original poster art (whoever is responsible for these beautiful booklets NoShame keeps coming up with needs to be commended for the outstanding work) disc 2 where all extras are located offers a lengthy interview with Marco Bellocchio and Carlo Lizzani, assistant director Maurizio Ponzi, and editor Roberto Perignani (77 min.), poster and stills gallery.

Final Thoughts: A curious project that might prove a bit too artsy for some yet inspire others to seek the works of the directors involved with Love and Anger this is very much a collector's work that deserves the attention of those fascinated with European cinema from the 60s. Once again immaculately presented by the now marquee name No Shame this double DVD set comes RECOMMENDED.

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