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Il Casanova di Federico Fellini(1976)
Casanova is a libertine, collecting seductions and sexual feats. But he is really interested in someone, and is he really an interesting person ? Is he really alive ?
For more about Il Casanova di Federico Fellini and the Il Casanova di Federico Fellini Blu-ray release, see Il Casanova di Federico Fellini Blu-ray Review published by Dr. Svet Atanasov on May 20, 2009 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.5 out of 5.
Starring: Donald Sutherland, Tina Aumont
Director: Federico Fellini
» See full cast & crew
Il Casanova di Federico Fellini Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, May 20, 2009
Federico Fellini's dark and deliciously perverse "Casanova" (1976) gets a solid treatment by French atrhouse distributors Carlotta. The Blu-ray disc herein reviewed contains the film's 154 minute cut as well as all three official audio versions – English, French and Italian. Unfortunately, it is Region-B "locked.
Federico Fellini's Casanova is a dark, at times notably disturbing, film. It chronicles the deeds of the famous Italian seducer after he is captured and thrown in prison on accusations of heresy and witchcraft. In 1977, the film won an Oscar for Best Costume Design (Danilo Donati) as well as a David award for Best Music (Nino Rota) at the David di Donatello Awards in Taormino, Italy.
The film opens up with Giacomo Casanova's arrest – he has been sentenced by the almighty Inquisition. We see a confident, borderline arrogant man escorted to a gloomy cell. He is then stripped of his clothes and locked up. As the prison guard walks away, Casanova begs to be freed but his plea is rejected.
Time goes by and Casanova manages to escape the prison. He begins wandering Europe's most exciting cities where he encounters a number of fascinating characters. We see how he seduces Angelina the Giantess (played by - at the time, officially acknowledged by the Guinness Book of Records - world's tallest woman, Sandra Elaine Allen), Rosalba the Mechanical doll (Leda Lojodice), the famous Dr. Moebius's (Mario Cencelli) daughters (Olimpia Carlisi and Silvana Fusacchia) and the old but lustful Marquise d'Urfe (Cicely Browne). We even see him bedding a nun, when he secretly visits the great city of Venice. At one point, he also crosses paths with the legendary Don Juan. The film ends on a deceivingly upbeat note with a very interesting message.
Fellini's Casanova is a film critics love to argue about. Some have claimed that it is a despicably exploitative work where excess and human degradation are used for no other reason but to scandalize. Others have defended it as an impressive dark satire on the fallacies of human nature.
What Fellini attempted to achieve with Casanova, however, is perhaps a bit of both. As expected, his imagination runs wild and, occasionally, the film entertains themes that are indeed impossible to rationalize. Of course, the question is: do they have to be? After all, Fellini is a director whose films aestheticized perversity and art by merging them together and promoting them as a form of culture where anything can be called a truth.
Nonetheless, the film's undeniable appeal has a lot to do precisely with the viewer's inability to effectively deconstruct its message. Its stylish visuals – with an emphasis on detail contemporary directors can only fantasize about – are so overwhelming that one easily forgets about separating the acceptable from the unacceptable. Indeed, Casanova is pure Fellini – controversial, fascinating, brilliant, flawed and deliciously manipulative.
The cast is fantastic. Donald Sutherland delivers a career-defining performance as Casanova, which I doubt Robert Redford, who was initially considered for the role, would have matched. The numerous unprofessional actors are just as impressive (the little known at the time Leda Lojodice for example, who plays the lusty mechanical doll, is incredible). Casanova also boasts a dark and utterly utterly atmospheric soundtrack by the legendary Nino Rota who had previously worked with the Italian director on I vitelloni (1953), La Strada (1954), La dolce vita (1960), 8 ½ (1963), Giulietta degli spiriti (1965) and Fellini - Satyricon (1969) amongst others.
Il Casanova di Federico Fellini Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1, encoded with MPEG-AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, Federico Fellini's Casanova arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of French distributors Carlotta.
I'll say it upfront – this lovely edition of Casanova is the best kept Blu-ray secret. Period! It is an absolute treasure, which many of you who have gone through endless DVD releases of the film that were plagued with endless issues, will be ecstatic to see. Quite some time ago, I noted that BFI's Blu-ray release of Michelangelo Antonioni's Red Desert is a good enough reason to consider investing into a native Region-B or Region-Free machine. Well, folks, now it is absolutely essential that you think about going Region-Free. Really, if Carlotta's release of Fellini's Casanova does not convince you, nothing will.
The print used by Carlotta is in fantastic shape. Before I sat down to write this review, I ran a few quick comparisons with the old non-anamorphic French disc and, frankly, the difference between the two releases is simply unbelievable. First, this French Blu-ray disc preserves the film's original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 (their own DVD release gravitates around the 1.74:1 mark). Second, contrast is impressively stable, detail pleasing and clarity about as good as I hoped it could be. Third, the color-scheme is simply fantastic. Next to the French DVD, the Blu-ray image conveys so much depth and tonality (with all sorts of fine nuances) that, as cliché as it may sound, you have to see them in order to believe them. Fourth, the heavy macroblocking that plagued the French disc is nowhere to be seen. Fifth, the Blu-ray transfer has retained plenty of the natural film grain that will impress many of you. This being said, I did notice a few minor specks in the very beginning of the film but, overall, the actual print is exceptionally healthy. Finally, there are absolutely no traces of heavy DNR that I could detect. (Note: This is a Region-B "locked" release. Therefore, in order to be able to playback this Blu-ray disc, you must have a native Region-B or Region-Free player).
Il Casanova di Federico Fellini Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There are three audio tracks on this Blu-ray disc: English LPCM 1.0 (48 kHz), French LPCM 1.0 (48 kHz) and Italian LPCM 1.0 (48 kHz). I opted for the English LPCM 1.0 track and later on did a few random comparisons with the other two tracks for the purpose of this review.
First, let's make it perfectly clear that there are no imposed French subtitles on the English LPCM track. This being said, the English LPCM track is in good condition. The dialog is crisp, clear and easy to follow. Furthermore, I did not detect any disturbing audio dropouts, pops, or hissings. As expected, the overdubbing has produced some minor sync issues, which some of you might be able to detect. But, you should know that these are perfectly normal, given that post-production dubbing was favored by the Italian film industry at the time.
As I mentioned above, I ran a few quick tests with the French and Italian dubs (I spent more time on the French dub). Overall, both appear to be practically identical in terms of clarity. During the selected scenes I tested, I did not detect any disturbing pops, cracks, or hissings. This being said, Nino Rota's lovely score sounds terrific on all three LPCM tracks. For the record, Carlotta have provided optional French subtitles for the Italian and English versions of the film. (You won't be able to turn off the subtitles from the main menu. You have to use the subtitles button on your remote to do so).
Il Casanova di Federico Fellini Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Casanova arrives in a stylish case that very much resembles the coffee-books introduced by Warner Brothers in North America. This is, however, a much sturdier and better designed package. The booklet Carlotta have provided with it (attached to the actual case) contains a number of reproductions for sketches drawn by Fellini himself.
On the actual Blu-ray disc you will find all of the extras that were previously available on the Carlotta DVD as well as a few exclusive supplemental features prepared exclusively for this Blu-ray release:
El Il Casanova de Fellini (1975) (73 min) – This is a rather long documentary, which Fellini requested that Gianfranco Angelucci and Liliane Betti complete a year before the shooting for Casanova started. Some well known Italian actors - Marcello Mastroianni, Ugo Tognazi, Alberto Sordi, Tonino Guerra, Vittorio Gassman – are given the opportunity to improvise in front of the camera. A lot of these improvisations were later on utilized by Fellini to finalize the main characters in Casanova. (In Italian with optional French subtitles).
Et Fellini Créa Le Casanova (28 min) – a rather long but very insightful interview with Gianfranco Angelucci, scenarist and Fellini collaborator, who recalls how Casanova came to exist and how some of the more outrageous scenes were filmed. He also addresses El Il Casanova de Fellini. (In Italian with optional French subtitles).
"Poly-gammies" en la mineur (21 min) – Composer Alexandre Desplat (The Beat My Heart Skipped) talks about Nino Rota's truly unusual soundtrack. He focuses on the relationship between images and sounds and how they are absorbed by the viewer. (In French without optional French subtitles).
Les memoires d'un casanoviste (22 min) – French film director Alain Jaubert ("Giacomo Casanova") talks about Fellini's characters, the exotic locations from the film (done at Cinecittà Studios, Cinecittà in Rome and Lazio) as well as the critical overtones the film conveys. (In French without optional French subtitles).
Autor de Casanoa: piste informative – this is a Profile 1.1 feature. When activated, a small box, with texts in French, appears on your screen during specific scenes. The feature can be activated from the main menu.
Gallery of stills –
Original theatrical trailer –
(Note: The supplemental features on this Blu-ray disc are not playable on NTSC-only TV sets. In order to view them in North America, you either have to have a multi-system TV set or a Region-Free Blu-ray player capable of converting PAL- NTSC).
Il Casanova di Federico Fellini Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Fans of Federico Fellini's Casanova will be delighted to hear that there is finally a deserving release of his controversial film. French distributors Carlotta's Blu-ray disc is certainly one of the most delicious releases to be produced in Region-B. I really hope that they would continue to surprise us with such special treatments. Finally, it would be unfair if I did not mention the case this Blu-ray disc arrives with - it is lovely. Yes, this is one classy looking release. Bravo Carlotta! Very Highly Recommended.
Fellini's Casanova: Other Editions
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