Thursday, October 12, 2006

Gillo Pontecorvo is dead - a sad day for cinema

Pontecorvo is one of the least appreciated of the great Italian filmmakers; his The Battle of Algiers is a very important film for anyone concerned with terrorism, resistance, and the plight of oppressed peoples. It's a shame his follow up documentary is not available on DVD -- to say nothing of the "long cut" of Burn! (Queimada), a cinematic cheat sheet for The Wretched of the Earth. (The link to Burn! is for the MGM DVD released last year, but it's a cinematic scandal to be avoided; they ignored the fully restored, Italian language film, circulated theatrically in the previous year, and distributed the truncated, cropped, inferior English-dubbed version). Perhaps because he made so few films (or because he dealt with serious, controversial political issues in his films), his work hasn't been made widely available here (His early film, The Wide Blue Road, is on DVD, however, and I highly recommend it -- it's a somewhat romantic tale of the struggles of a lone dynamite fisherman in a small Italian village, starring Yves Montand. It would be great fun to watch this back-to-back with Clouzot's The Wages of Fear). It's sad, but I hope his death will trigger a restrospective of his films in cinemas across North America, as I'm sure he also would have wanted. He was a great filmmaker and his films deserve to be appreciated.

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