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Dillinger Is Dead (The Criterion Collection)
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In this magnificently inscrutable late-sixties masterpiece, Marco Ferreri, one of European cinema's most idiosyncratic auteurs, takes us through the looking glass to one seemingly routine night in the life of an Italian gas mask designer, played, in a tour de force performance, by New Wave icon Michel Piccoli. In his claustrophobic, mod home, he pampers his pill-popping wife, seduces his maid, and uncovers a gun that may have once been owned by John Dillingerand then things get even stranger. A surreal political missive about social malaise, DILLINGER IS DEAD finds absurdity in the mundane. It is a singular experience, both illogical and grandly existential.
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Top Customer Reviews
The look of this film is excellent. It was shot in the actual apartment of a very famous pop art/painter (1969), and it is a convincing and compelling 'set' in contrast to, oh, let's say Godard's tableaux, which often seem so contrived. It could have been shot yesterday, but for a few outdated appliances. Even better is the uncredited soundtrack that plays practically non-stop in the background throughout most of the film. It really adds to the scenes and augments the action, but not too obviously.
The motive of the film is very much of its time, though... again, it is saved by following entirely poetic impulses.
This is a disturbing film that seasoned viewers who appreciate Lynch, Bunuel or Imamura would welcome. You have to drop your expectations of logic and let the impressive talent of the lead (Piccoli) guide you through the weirdness... it's not as deliberately maddening as some self-indulgent art films, but it definitely takes you out of the ordinary.
Marco Ferreri, the Italian filmmaker who many looked at as a rebellious director that some looked at as innovative, non-compromising, intelligent but also controversial, provocative and a man who could care less of what people thought about his film.
Never a shy man, Ferreri was to the point of how he felt. Arthouse fans may have loved his films but he could care less about those people who watch art house films. In fact, he hated those types of audiences. He was not a big fan of the popularity of the Cinemateque Francais of the '60s (which he called the films "incoherent") and nearly interview that revolved around his work, you can easily tell Ferreri was agitated, especially when it seemed the interviewer wanted to praise his style of filmmaking or a film.
And if there was one film that people loved, it was Ferreri's 1968 Italian art house film "Dillinger e morto" (aka "Dillinger is Dead). Looked at as one of Ferreri's true masterpiece and a film that was well-received, this irked Ferreri. In fact, because of the positive attention he received from the film, Ferreri could not wait to get back to the films that he was known for...films that were provocative and, in his own words, "bad taste".
"Dillinger is Dead" is a dark film that borders between fantasy and reality. A film that has hardly any dialogue, but its the actions of this man of the bourgeois lifestyle coming home from work and like a voyeur, we take a peak of how he is inside the home. Is what we are watching completely real or is this a film about dreams manufactured from a man with desires?
VIDEO & AUDIO:
"Dillinger is Dead" looks very good for a film that is over 40-years-old. The film is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1:66:1 and was approved by director of photography Mario Vulpiani. According to Criterion, the HD digital transfer was created on a Cintel C-Reality with Oliver electronic wet-gate processing from the original camera negative. Thousands of instances of dirt, debris, scratches, splices, warps, jitter and flicker were manually removed from using MTI's DRS system and Pixel Farm's PFClean system, while Digital vision's DVNR system was used for a small dirt, grain, and noise reduction.
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
"Dillinger is Dead" is presented in monaural Italian with English subtitles.
It's important to note that "Dillinger is Dead" is a film that does not have that much dialogue at all. But it does utilize music from the radio and whatever is showing on television. But for the most part, audio is clear and understandable. According to Criterion, the monaural soundtrack was remastered at 24-bit from the original optical soundtrack negative. Clicks, thumps, hiss and hum were manually removed using Pro Tools HD. Crack was attenuated using AudioCube's integrated audio workstation.
"Dillinger is Dead - THE CRITERION COLLECTION #506" comes with the following special features:
* Michel Piccoli - (12:51) Featuring an interview from 2009 with Michel Piccoli, the actor who plays the role of Glauco talks about working with Marco Ferreri, shooting "Dillinger is Dead" and praising the director and his style of filmmaking.
* Adriano Apra - (20:52) Featuring an interview from 2009 with film historian Adriano Apra about "Dillinger is Dead" and Marco Ferreri.
* Le Cercle de Minuit - (13:12) In May 1997, days after the death of Marco Ferreri, filmmakers Francesco Rossi, Bernardo Bertolucci and film historian Aldo Tassone took part in a roundtable discussion at the Cannes Film Festival for the French TV show "Le cercle de minuit". Featuring video footage of Marco Ferreri during an interview shot two months earlier.
* Trailer - (2:33) The original theatrical trailer for "Dillinger is Dead".
* 34-Page Booklet - Featuring the following essay "Apocalypse Now" by Michael Joshua Rowin and a variety of Interviews with Ferreri.
Marco Ferreri is known for his provocative films. Known for co-writing the film "Mafioso" in 1962 (available on the Criterion Collection #424) and directing controversial films such as the 1973 "La Grande Bouffe" (a film where four friends eat themselves to death) and La Dernière femme (a film about love and self-mutilation), Ferreri is a director who has built his career on counter-culture films. He could care less if people watch and despise his films, it's what he does.
But in 1968, he created "Dillinger e Morto" (Dillinger is Dead). A film that was enjoyed by many and even with its controversial ending, the fact that people enjoyed the film so much made Ferreri want to go further by creating films that were way more provocative than any of his previous films.
"Dillinger is Dead" is a film that can seem quite boring if one was to describe it to others. A man who lives a bourgeois lifestyle, coming home from work and has a beautiful wife who had cooked for him and goes to bed early because she has a headache. The man cooks dinner, finds a gun in his closet while looking for ingredients, has a sexy maid that he accidentally spies on while she's adoring her body in the mirror and he eats what he cooks, watches TV, watches home videos and by descriptions of the actions does not give the movie any justice.
Michel Piccoli, the actor who plays the main character Glauco, just shines as a man who seems isolated and obviously a man who doesn't sleep so much. It's the voyeuristic filmmaking that makes "Dillinger is Dead" so appealing. Afterall, in today's day and age, people are entranced by reality TV shows to online streaming videos of watching people do nothing. May they read a book, sleeping, cooking and this voyeurism is what catches the attention of the viewer.
We see this man as a regular working man but once he discovers this gun, you think to yourself, "why is he so fixated on taking it apart, painting it, carrying it". We don't know what happened yesterday, the week before or let alone what is on the mindset of Glauco but it's that look into his life until he does the unthinkable. This is Ferreri's middle finger to the viewer who has watched and has been enjoying the movie up to that scene. And one must ask themselves, it's a Marco Ferreri film, how can you not see something like this coming?
But we don't. It's because for the most part of the film, we watch this man enjoying food and his life. The ending is like entering a dream state. Are watching reality? Or somehow are we watching a man who shifts from reality to a dreamstate and that is what we are seeing? A man who wants to escape from his life of monotony of work and life and wants to have fun?
I suppose "Dillinger is Dead" is one of those films that one can watch and come up with a different interpretation. But for a film that is pretty much a silent film in terms of lack of dialogue, Ferreri manages to create a film so unique and so different that it is a true masterpiece.
Once again, The Criterion Collection manages to rescue a film from obscurity and bring it to the masses with a presentation that looks beautiful on DVD (how I wish Criterion considered this film for a Blu-ray release) and a good number of special features especially a booklet that features one of the best tete a tete between a filmmaker and his interviewers. It's something you rarely read from a Criterion booklet but I suppose that is what makes Marco Ferreri the man he was and why so many people respect him. He is a man who creates films the way he wants to without any compromises.
"Dillinger is Dead" is a fantastic film and another Criterion Collection DVD worth owning!