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STUDIO: Koch Lorber Films
RUNNING TIME: 107 min
Interview with the Filmmakers
Booklet with Essay by Peter Bondanella
An Italian woman remembers World War II. People died.
Omero Antonutti, Margarita Lozano, Claudio BigaglI, Miriam Guidelli, Micol Guidelli and Mario Spallino
The Giving Tree wants you to go fuck off.
The Night of the Shooting Stars is a remake of the Taviani Brothers’ 1954 debut short San Miniato, July 1944. That means nothing to the general masses, but it was a rather noteworthy two-reeler that worked against the popular rise of Italian Neo-Realism. Taking an almost whimsical look back at the Nazi occupation of Tuscany. We’re given a child’s perspective on those horrifying times.
No funny comment. Just a nice shot.
The Taviani Brothers put their dreamlike style to use with this film. It’s easy to do a somber World War II film that looks back at the era painted in great misery. But, the Tavianis have decided to place us shoulder to shoulder with the common people who watched the horror in the European mainland. It’s not all happy and it’s not entirely somber. It’s a fair representation of the war experience through the eyes of children, the young adults and the older citizenry.
The Night of the Shooting Stars takes place near the end of World War II. The tiny Tuscan village of San Martino has been overran by invaders. Danger comes from both the Nazis and Allied forces, as they encroach upon the tiny town. The Nazis attack first and they decide to have all the townspeople gather in a centralized location one night. Anyone found outside of this area will be shot and their homes blown up. Local leader Galvano gathers a group together including the young Cecilia and they venture off in the night. The threat of being discovered by the Nazis is ever present, as they try to make their way to safety with the Allies.
Luigi “Faceful of Pubes” Loren makes his debut.
The film isn’t quite sure how to operate. Often it feels like a series of vignettes, while other times it tries to push onto main character Cecilia as she attempts to narrate. This constant flip-flopping almost takes the viewer out of the story. So much of the events are hyper-focused on the communal experience of Galvano’s group, as they leave during the night. The Tavianis are so concerned with the emotion of the film, that the narrative falters and ultimately collapses.
The film demands a serious approach, but with reserve. I don’t want to compare it to Life is Beautiful, but it strikes a similar tone with the later Benigni film. The directors are concerned with heart and how it can survive in the midst of the worst atrocities known to man.
Day’s never finished, Patron’s got me working. One day Patron gonna set me free.
The Night of the Shooting Stars comes to DVD for what has to be the third time. The transfer seems to improve with each release. The audio is still rather flat, but that seems to be the style of International Cinema in the early 1980s. I experience similar difficulties with the audio on the recent Diva release. But, it’s not that bad. It’s just rather lackluster for those folks that are used to blowing out the ol’ home theater.
The A/V Quality is better than the MGM World Films DVD that most people will probably see sitting in their local big box store. Koch Lorber has seen fit to throw on similar special features in comparison to the other Taviani releases. The booklet is useless in comparison to the near feature length documentary included in the set. Sure, it seems like a retread of the Italian Cinema discussion that was on the disc for Fiorile, but that’s to be expected.
In the end, The Night of the Shooting Stars is a decent movie. It’s just not a great one. There are better examples of later Italian cinema, right before we hit the modernity of the later Argento and other working filmmakers. But, if you’re curious…then this is worth a rental. I preferred Kaos, but everyone will have their Taviani favorites.
Toto fans are everywhere.