Arrow Academy has released the 1981 Italian Drama Three Brothers in a Blu-ray/DVD combo pack for Region A. The film was previously released in the UK and this appears to be the same transfer and special features. Is the film worth adding to your collection? Read on to find out!
Three Brothers is basically a film about the reflection of life. This family drama starts off with introductions of the three brothers. Their mother just passed away and their father is sending a telegraph to come home for the funeral. We have a Judge from Rome, Raffaele, who has his own issues from work he is dealing with. He is involved with a political case where he is at risk of assassination, which strains his family life with his wife and child as they cannot be in the same areas at the same time.
The next brother is the religious and ideological Rocco. He is a counselor at a correctional institute for boys and he has to deal with their mischievous and criminal ways. He worries about setting them on what he thinks is the best and correct path in life. It is for them to get out of their way of life. Finally we run into Nicola, from Turin. He is a factory worker involved in labor disputes who is also trying to raise his daughter.
Once all the boys are home, each one encounters their own past and dreams about what may come in the future: Raffaele imagines his death, Rocco dreams of lifting the youth of Naples out of violence, drugs, and corruption, Nicola pictures embracing his estranged wife. Meanwhile, the old man and his young granddaughter tour the farm and grieve together.
The story structure and set up have been done numerous times, so basically what holds this film up are the actors performances and the cinematography. The film tries hard to balance the story with the differences in characterizations to give each one their own voice but then also have a singular thematic vision contained within. I don’t think I would personally consider the film to be outstanding, although it is listed in the 1,001 Movies You Must See Before You Die book. Italy submitted it to the 1982 Oscars in the Best Foreign Language Film category.
As far as I can tell Arrow’s offerings are the only physical releases for Three Brothers. Therefore this is the definitive release of this film. The transfer looks nice and even though there are some nitpicky issues nothing is going to ruin your enjoyment of the film. The audio is typical of Italian releases where the vocals and lip movements don’t match, even with the use of subtitles. The film is mostly dialogue heavy with a light score. All in all the film continues Arrow’s expected quality for a release.
The Guardian Interview with Director Francesco Rosi, in conversation with Derek Malcolm at London’s National Film Theatre on June 1st 1987.
42 page booklet with essays by Director Francesco Rosi, Millicent Marcus and Michel Ciment.
Three Brothers Final Thoughts:
The film itself is good but not great. I can understand why Rosi is not known alongside the master European filmmakers like Fellini and Bergman. However that’s not to say there is nothing to be gained from his material. He does do a professional job with the film, the acting works for the most part and the cinematography I found to be very nice. Three Brothers has a very deliberate pacing which makes it feel more like a film from the 60’s or 70’s.
Reflection on life and being aware of how short our time really is has always been a fascinating story device. While not quite reaching my emotions or intellect Three Brothers is still worth checking out and probably should be seen by more people. If you feel you would enjoy this type of film I suggest checking it out here on Amazon.
Note: This Blu-ray was sent to us for review. This has not affected our judgement or editorial process in any way. Please contact us if you have any questions regarding this process.