Allonsanfan (Paolo & Vittorio Taviani / Italy, 1973):

The Taviani brothers' companion piece to their previous political tragicomedy St. Michael Had a Rooster, or perhaps its sardonic reversal -- whereas the earlier film followed the hero's rebellious idealism shriveling up in the indifferent countryside, here it is the hero who has given up on revolution. The French Revolution, natch, as the Napoleonic Wars wind down throughout Europe and the aristocracy starts shifting back into place; nobleman-turned-extremist Marcello Mastroianni is sprung from his cell to lead the authorities to his insurrective group, though he's far more interested in trading the Jacobin rifle for the bourgeois wine glass. He shacks up at his lush family mansion, where the Tavianis' heightened-realistic visuals disconcertingly suggest Brecht minus the detachment; recalling a childhood game at the dinner table, the film takes over Mastroianni's eyes to envision sister Laura Betti adorned in purple from top to bottom. Their impromptu "Din-Din-Din" singalong turns orchestralized through Ennio Morricone's score, and the camera breaks away to spot Lea Massari, Mastroianni's old flame, strolling into the gardens, bringing reminders of his former radicalism with her. A melee later and he's displaced once more, happy on a sexual holiday with lass Mismy Farmer yet constantly bumping into his comrades, whose anarchist flame burns still. The title is phonetic-Italian for the opening words of "La Marseillaise" and the moniker of one of the most fervent rebels of the dispersed batch, but such ardor is not for weary Mastroianni, who, shanghaied to the south to aid budding peasant revolt, is more than ready to sabotage the mission to save his skin. The Tavianis will continue their search for the Marxist utopia, though the picture is their kiss-off to individual idealism, embodied by Mastroianni's self-involvement -- a "great actor," who sees political engagement as ultimately a matter of uniforms, a concept literalized in the finale for withering irony. With Claudio Cassinelli, Benjamin Lev, Renato De Carmine, and Stanko Molnar.

--- Fernando F. Croce

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