"The great French critic André Bazin said of director Luchino Visconti that he filmed the Sicilian fishermen in La Terra Trema as if they were 'tragic princes.'" Sam Adams for the Los Angeles Times: "In the 1963 epic The Leopard, rapturously presented on a new Criterion Blu-ray, Visconti reverses the equation, pulling a family of 19th century aristocrats down to earth. Set in Sicily during the Risorgimento, the period that marked the end of Sicily's existence as an independent monarchy and the emergence of an Italian state, the movie exults in the last gasps of the nobility's opulence, even as it acknowledges and — ambivalently — endorses the necessity of its end."
In the New York Times, Dave Kehr explains how 20th Century Fox botched the initial theatrical release. "It seems as if The Leopard has been in a continuous state of restoration ever since." For now, "it's hard to imagine The Leopard looking much better on home video than it does in the new high definition version. Even among Visconti's meticulous works, this is a film that stands out for its careful, systematic use of color and texture, elements that come to the forefront in the new disc." More from Eric Henderson (Slant) and Gary Tooze.
Ed Gonzalez in Slant on Criterion's other release today: "Emotionally and politically complex, [Jan Troell's] Everlasting Moments hauntingly conflates a woman's spiritual awakening with the birth of cinema." More from Armond White in Current; Sam Smyth walks us through the process of designing the cover.
"You cannot torch monotheism too thoroughly for me, generally speaking, but The White Ribbon can't merely be about the crazy religious repression of yesteryear," writes Michael Atkinson for IFC.com. "[H]ow seriously are we supposed to take that equation, proto-Calvinist abuse + time = the Holocaust?" Next page: "Another Teutonic act of queasy self-analysis, Konrad Wolf's Divided Heaven (1964) is something like the Rebel Without a Cause of Cold War-crazed East Germany, made during a cultural thaw that oddly coincided with the erection of the Berlin Wall. It's a New Wavey romance, a tale of young lovers trying to find happiness under Communism, but as much as it feels robustly Truffautian (especially all those rooftop shots of the Berlin streets and sidewalks), it's not gritty but spiffy, polished and visually rich, almost the GDR version of The Cranes Are Flying."
DVD roundups: Sean Axmaker and Michael Tully (Hammer to Nail).
IN OTHER NEWS
"Corey Allen, who fatally challenged James Dean to a 'chicken race' in the 1955 film classic Rebel Without a Cause before embarking on a career as a prolific TV director, died of natural causes in Hollywood on Sunday, two days before his 76th birthday." From the Hollywood Reporter.
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