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Bellissima (1951)

Anna Magnani , Walter Chiari , Luchino Visconti  |  Unrated |  DVD
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)

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Bellissima + La Terra Trema + Shoeshine
Price for all three: $45.05

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Product Details

  • Actors: Anna Magnani, Walter Chiari
  • Directors: Luchino Visconti
  • Format: Black & White, Closed-captioned, NTSC, Subtitled
  • Language: Italian
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Entertainment One
  • DVD Release Date: March 13, 2012
  • Run Time: 111 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B006MHZ32K
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #55,259 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

Oscar® winner Anna Magnani (The Rose Tattoo) stars as a screen-struck mother, convinced that her daughter's star potential is her ticket to a better life, in a performance that Hollywood legend Bette Davis called "brilliant, uninhibited and full of volcanic, earthy power. " Risking everything in pursuit of her dream, Maddalena (Magnani) finally arranges a screen test for her child, only to realize the cruel reality beneath the shimmering veneer of the filmmaking industry.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
The post-World War II films that emerged from Italy from the mid-forties to the early fifties represent, to me, one of the strongest and most vital periods of filmmaking ever. Some truly great directors worked within the Italian neorealism film movement, and the gritty and truthful movies they made really captured a country in moral and economic transition. These films were grounded in real characters (often portrayed by non-actors) struggling with relatable problems of every day existence with recurrent themes of poverty and desperation. And yet, they were also filled with such life, passion, and simplicity. Relying on concise storytelling and genuine human emotion, these films just feel inherently real even so many decades later. One of the masters of the period, Luchino Visconti, has two classics being dropped onto the DVD market on the same day: a re-release of 1948's "La Terra Trema" (long out of print) and 1951's "Bellissima" (incredibly getting its North American DVD debut). Of course, anyone with an interest in international cinema should have a particular interest in these titles.

La Terra Trema (4 stars): Of the two films, this might be the purest example of neorealism. The entire film takes place on location in an Italian coastal village. The cast is made up of non-professional actors who really seem to be at one with the material. The lengthy film (2 hours and 40 minutes) charts the disintegration of a typical Sicilian fishing clan. When the family gets tired of being taken advantage of by local wholesalers, they embark on a brave plan to work for themselves and take their product direct to market with no middleman.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Magnani's Performance Highlights This Film September 16, 2012
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Although I am a bonafide fan of neither Luchino Visconti nor neorealism (I prefer surrealism) -- I found this to be one of Visconti's better films (along with "Rocco e i Suoi Fratelli" & "The Damned"). Frankly I watched this picture for Anna Magnani -- Who, as other Amazon reviewers of this product have noted -- Is a tour-de-force here in the role of Maddalena, a hyper-driven stage mother. La Magnani is better in her Italian films than she is in her American ones (IE "The Rose Tattoo", "Orpheus Descending") -- As her charisma finds its ultimate channel via her native language. Although I also enjoyed Magnani in Pier Paolo Pasolini's "Mamma Roma" -- "Bellissima" features the best work of Magnani that I have seen thus far.

My only major criticism of this picture is that certain scenes move quite slowly -- Perhaps in an effort by Visconti to illuminate the characters and to flesh out the context. But this meandering seems unnecessary and / or tedious -- Especially given the straightforward, simple and linear nature of the story. On the other hand -- The film's sometime slowness is most likely a stylistic component of the "realism" (or neorealism).

In closing -- "Bellissima" works well as a cautionary tale concerning: (1) the perils and pitfalls of show business -- With its inherent hustling, cruelty and dishonesty; (2 the negative consequences of an obsession (in this case, Maddalena's) with the fantasy world of cinema; and (3) the danger inherent in the potential exploitation of child actors. All of this being said -- In the end Maddalena sees through the falsity of it all and cuts her losses -- Hopefully having learned a lesson in the process.

Stephen C. Bird, Author of "Catastrophically Consequential"
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars truth January 26, 2013
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Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
This is my favorite film of Visconti, just as Mamma Roma (to my taste) is the best Pasolini's movie.

And this is not because of Magnani, even though her performance in both films is superb, as it always is.

The reason I liked Bellissima so much is that it's that exact combination of realism and art which produces the highest possible outcome of human creativity, the truth. In a sense this is what Shakespeare did, because he was a realist even in The Tempest and Midsummer Night's Dream, not even mentioning his Henry IV or Merry Wives of Windsor.

Bellissima is about a short span in a life of a poor family in post-WWII Italy. The mother (Magnani), trying to survive, takes her small (5 years old) daughter to a movie audition hoping to start her career in the film industry, so that her future would be financially secure (and so would be the future of the family).

We see life of ordinary Italians, shown by Visconti with so much knowledge and compassion that it's difficult not to identify with everyone in this movie. We're seeing lots of life's minor details, adding up to a sharp, crisp picture, much bigger than simple sum of those details.

Magnani plays her favorite persona, hysterical - and loving, strong-willed - and vulnerable.

Visconti's cinematography is superb, each scene is so believable because of his ability to add small details everywhere, making it absolutely real. Film is not dated even though it's 50 years old. Some movies become dated after just a few years, but not those in the class of Bellissima, Mamma Roma, People on Sunday.
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