1900 (Novecento) Reviews
same day - one to the owner of a large estate, the other to one of his
labourers. There is a massive divide between the classes in Italy, to
the point of antagonism. Despite this, and despite some disagreements
along the way, Alfredo and Olmo become best friends. We see them grow
up, go to WW1 and their adult lives. Eventually their different
upbringings and social standings come back to haunt them, as Italy is
plunged into class war - the Socialists (workers) vs the Fascists
(supported by the middle- and upper-class). Alfredo and Olmo find
themselves on opposite sides.
Epic drama, directed by Bernardo Bertolucci. Epic is a bit of an understatement for this movie - the full version is
over five hours long! (Mini-series in one part would be a better
description!). Therein lies one of the problems with 1900 - while many
of the scenes are important, you feel that a lot of it could have been
edited out. Some scenes are just padding, and the writing within those
scenes reinforces this view. The result is that watching the movie becomes an ordeal.
The unbalanced approach to the class differences is also irritating.
The land owners, and Fascist supporters, are all shown as unfeeling,
monsters, while the peasants are all shown in a very sympathetic light,
to the point that random acts of violence and killing by them are
condoned. It's difficult to support people engage in such acts and/or
who proclaim Stalin as their hero...
Casting is also odd. There's, as you would expect, a large Italian cast
but many of the main roles are filled by Hollywood stars - Robert De
Niro, Burt Lancaster, Donald Sutherland, Sterling Hayden - dubbed into
Italian! It would have made more sense to have Italian actors, speaking
Italian. The lips and words not being in sync gives a cheap, B-grade
feel to the movie.
The basic plot was interesting, especially as you have the classic story of friends turned enemies through circumstances beyond their control, but this was ruined by the length of the movie and the pro-communist bias.