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Bellissima (1951)

Anna Magnani , Walter Chiari , Luchino Visconti  |  Unrated |  DVD
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Anna Magnani, Walter Chiari
  • Directors: Luchino Visconti
  • Format: Multiple Formats, 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 (10 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B006MHZ32K
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #83,778 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
10 of 11 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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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Buautiful Film Fantastic Acting May 9, 2011
By Burr
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Anna Magnani is my favorite actress of all time. She could act more with just her facial expressions than most other actors could combining verbal with body expression. The story is a simple one, a willful stage mother trying to get her young daughter into the movies via a star search contest at Rome's Cinecitta studios. The time is post war Italy, economic recovery is slow and money is scarce. Her husband Spartaaco regards this quest for stardom to be a waste of time but Maddalena pursues it vigorously eventually spending all their savings. There is a pivotal scene where Maddalena is watching her daughters screen test. Here is where Magnani's abiltiy use expression so effectively is most pronounced. Her facial expressions go from happy to confused to angry to resignation as to what is actually going on in the screening. The scene is also a pivitol one to the plot which changes Maddelena so drastically.
I have always been a fan of Italian neo-realist cinema being of Italian descent myself and this film is one of the best. Unfortunately it has not been released in the United States but I have an all regions DVD player. Overall one of Magnami's best efforts and I am so glad to finally be able to experience it.
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3 of 3 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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another sensational Magnani performance! August 31, 2012
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
A fierce and determined stage struck mother (Anna Magnani) enters her daughter (Tina Apicella) in a studio contest looking for a little girl to star in their next movie, even if it means destroying her marriage. While not a comedy as such, there are some devastating dramatic moments, one doesn't normally associate Luchino Visconti with wit and humor. This is perhaps his most sentimental (in a good way) film. Visconti turns an agile eye on the lure of the movies and how it grips those who want to be a part of it. When Magnani watches an outdoor screening of Hawks' RED RIVER, we can see how she's transformed by cinema and all its promises. Magnani is, of course, the driving force of the film (Bette Davis called her performance brilliant). She's spectacular and perhaps no other actress defines force of nature more than Magnani. With Walter Chiari, Gastone Renzelli, Tecla Scarano and the director Alessandro Blasetti playing himself.

The e-one DVD is a crisp B&W transfer in the appropriate 1.33 aspect ratio. In Italian with English subtitles.
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