- Number of Discs: 2
- Rated: Not Rated
- Run Time: 5 hours, 15 minutes
- Video: Color
- Released: July 7, 2009
- Originally Released: 1977
- Label: Paramount
- Encoding: Region 0 (Worldwide)
- Aspect Ratio: Widescreen
- Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround, Mono - English
- Dubbed, Subtitles - Italian
- Subtitles - English, French
- Features - Bonus:
- Other 1900: The Story, The Cast
- Other 1900: Creating The Epic
Performers, Cast and Crew:
Robert De Niro,
Gérard Depardieu &
Donald Sutherland &
Franco Arcalli &
Director of Photography:
Sight and Sound - 03/01/1978
"...It has a power to surprise, to show the expected event in an unexpected light..."
New York Times - 02/01/1991
"...Grand and flawed, polemical yet filled with brilliant images, it has Tolstoyan ambitions and many endearing quirks..."
Los Angeles Times - 02/01/1991
"...A monumental achievement....1900 overflows with an abundant love of life in all its beauty and pain, sensuality and despair..."
Entertainment Weekly - 12/22/2006
"The frank sexuality still startles, along with some horrifying violence, but 1900's edge is political....Virtuosic filmmaking..." -- Grade: A
Bernardo Bertolucci's vast historical melodrama used the massive popular, critical, and financial success of its predecessor, the scandalous LAST TANGO IN PARIS, to mount a production of epic scale. Cut down to four hours for its American release, the film utilizes an all-star Hollywood cast to tell its heavily Marxist tale of Italian peasants during the twentieth century. Two boys born on the same day are destined for divergent paths; Olmo (played by Gerard Depardeiu as an adult) is born to peasant parents and will become a passionate socialist, while Alfredo's (Robert De Niro as an adult) bourgeois, landowning origins will lead him to ultimately embrace fascism.
Driven by a sincere hope for and belief in political change, Bertolucci's film is nonetheless made up of very humane individual stories; it concentrates on highly personal experiences of a politically-charged time, which color the little dramas of love, sex, family, and community. It is at once an epic poem and a political manifesto, and it is the product of a director who was unabashedly communist in his youth, contrasting markedly with later works like 2003's THE DREAMERS. The fact that 1900 managed to get released by a major American studio during the height of the Cold War is remarkable in itself, and this fact possibly accounts for the film's lack of popular success when first encountered by audiences. The final sequence, which portrays the Italian peasants overthrowing their fascist masters and dancing beneath the red flag of Communism, sparked controversy on all sides, with the left criticizing it for historical inaccuracy, and the right obviously inflamed by the glorification of Communism. Bertolucci himself called it a dream sequence, an anticipation of the revolution yet to come, and indeed the entire movie is something of a celebration of the human spirit and the will to overcome.
Bernardo Bertolucci's massive epic, a history of Italy from 1900 to 1945 as reflected through the friendship of two men across class lines, is one of the most fascinating, if little seen, of his films. After beginning with Robert DeNiro as wealthy landowner Alfredo, and Gerard Depardieu as labor leader Olmo, the film returns to 1900 with the death of composer Giuseppi Verdi and the birth of the two friends. The opposing class interests of their grandfathers, padrone Burt Lancaster, and laborer Sterling Hayden, is quickly established in the enmity between the characters. As they grow, the boys become friends, mystified by the tensions that separate their families. But as time passes and Alfredo assumes the role of padrone, while Olmo works the land, their relationship becomes strained. With the rise of fascism, the director spells out its complicity with business interests, as the diffident Alfredo falls under the spell of a vicious and degraded fascist farm manager played by Donald Sutherland.
Bernardo Bertolucci used the clout and resources he had gained from LAST TANGO IN PARIS to realize the ambitious historical epic 1900. Alfredo (Robert De Niro) and Olmo (Gerard Depardieu) are born on the same day, but Alfredo is the grandson of a wealthy landowner (Burt Lancaster), while Olmo is a bastard born to the peasants who work the rich man's land. The boys grow up as friends who cannot understand the chasm of privilege that separates them--until the time comes for Alfredo to inherit the farm and Olmo the plow. It looks as though Alfredo, under the influence of his worldly wife, Ada (Dominique Sanda), will at least be more enlightened than his predecessors. But Atilla (Donald Sutherland), the local fascist, yokes him (along with the rest of the landowners) to his Black Shirt brutality. Meanwhile, Olmo commits himself, and the peasants he has come to lead, to the hopes of socialism. Although lives are ruined and war ensues, Alfredo and Olmo refuse to let the bewildering course of history destroy their friendship. Bertolucci covers the forty-five-year arc with deft characterization and arresting visuals, including an ear-cutting scene that puts Van Gogh and Quentin Tarantino to shame. The international cast, including Italian, French, and American actors, is superb.
Essential Cinema |
Theatrical Release |
- Shown at the Cannes Film Festival May 1976.
- The painting used in the opening credits is "Il Quarto Stato" ("The Fourth Estate") by Pelizza da Volpedo.
- Bertolucci's efforts to distribute the film with its long running time intact became a cause celebre in the world of cinema.