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In the 1980s Brass spoke with his friend Alberto Moravia about converting his novel, Luomo che guarda (The Man Who Watches) into a screenplay. This was originally scheduled to go before the cameras in 1986 or 1987. Moravia, an admirer of Brasss work, was pleased at the prospect, but the film was delayed and he did not live to see the result. This is another Brassian sex-film experiment, and despite its darkness, its a significant improvement over the previous few films. The story is unusual, and its in-the-family jealousy is vaguely reminiscent of The Key. In a nutshell: French-lit professor Edoardo Dodo is puzzled by his wife Silvias frequent unexplained disappearances, and by her brief and unannounced reappearances. He is even more puzzled by his bedridden fathers success with the ladies. But all thats nothing compared to his puzzlement at discovering that Sylvia is sneaking into his fathers bedroom at night. And when Sylvias confession about what she likes about her secret lover exactly matches his daddys secret proclivities, well, hes just beside himself with confusion. But that doesnt stop them from making up after Dodo finally moves out of his daddys apartment into one of his owndirectly above daddys.
Odd story. Not a great story. Not a deep story. But odd. It keeps switching back and forth between stylish drama and farcical comedy. The technique works beautifully. Each aspect makes the other more believable. Visually this is perhaps Brasss most stunning work. The art direction, the costumes, the locations, the lighting, the compositions, and, of course, the looks of the actors all combine to create breathtaking images. I found the novel at the local library but couldnt read it because my Italian is too lousy. Finally I found an English translation (The Voyeur, London: Futura, 1989) and read it. Its a short little book, marvelously perceptive, brilliantly written. The movie is neither perceptive nor brilliant. It is, instead, an exercise in style. The basic storyline from the novel is in place, more or less, and the characters as well, but with all the complications extirpated. Tinto found every conceivable excuse to have the scenes play in various stages of undress, which was certainly not true of the novel. The movie, actually, is a travesty of the novel, but not insultingly so. It is clear that Tinto loved the book dearly, but was not interested in filming it at all faithfully. The basic narrative would be used as an excuse to go off on tangents. (The above can also be said of Tintos use of the script for Gore Vidals Caligula.) The result is quite good and a lot of fun, but the result is no longer Moravia. The movie also does some strange things to the book. In the book we get the story of child-Dodos episode with the postage stamps. In the movie it is presented as an incomprehensible flashback. In the book, we understand the disquieting relationship between the child-Dodo and his mother. In the movie this becomes, shall we say, Oedipal. One scene in the book, where Dodo as a child chances upon his parents making out in the study, is especially significant. In the book, Dodo can only see his mothers head held down firmly upon the desk by his father. Tinto added one visual detail: the image of the mothers rump, for the scene in the book had occurred almost exactly in the child-Tintos real life, and Tinto added the detail to make the scene autobiographical. Art imitates life imitates art. It almost seems that Moravia wrote this story only so that Tinto could make a movie out of it. Overall the movie is rather fun, and it has a riotously funny surreal scene at a beach that has to be seen to be believed. Theres also a shot that nearly made me faint (Im surprised I didnt faint), as Pascasie, played by Raffaella Offidani, spreads her legs to show him that shes been mutilated (infibulated, she wrongly says). Thats not a sight I ever wanted to see. (You wont see it in the English dub.) And, like so many mutilated women, she is defensive about the butchery. Yes, Brass can be brave, but I thought this was a bit too brave. Anyway, Dodos childhood memories are wonderfully haunting.
REHEARSALS: When I first saw this movie I was surprised at how rehearsed it looked. In his earlier films Brass obviously aimed for spontaneity. Beginning with Miranda his films look more and more rehearsed. Luomo che guarda looks rehearsed almost to death. The reason for the change is probably Brasss increasing reliance on nonprofessionals. This new quality has carried over to all his subsequent films. Yes, I miss the old style, but, I have to admit, the new style works. And, as they say in theatre, If it works, it works.
|Fausta provokes Dodos rage by telling him what she saw last night||Katarina Vasilissa and Tinto Brass on the set|
|Silvia pays a surprise visit to Dodo||Tinto on the telly|
I bet Brass wanted Osiride Pevarello to play the voyeur at the beach. Instead he got English dubber Ted Rusoff, who looks a little bit like Osiride Pevarello, to do the honors in English! with his his lines dubbed into Italian. You MUST read what he said about Tinto at The Film Journal.
|Giambattista Tiepolo, Woman with a Mandolin, 17551760||Giambattista Tiepolo, Saint Charles Borromeo, 1769|
If the music track (colonna sonora) was ever released on CD, let me know how to get a copy. Im not too much of a jazz fan, but this stuff is fantastic.
WHERE HAVE WE HEARD THAT BEFORE? The comic polka from The Key is used yet again, faintly in the background, during Dodo and Faustas first scene together. And the cheesy jazz piece from Miranda, which was repeated in Paprika, pops up again here.
CURIOSITIES: Though Moravias original novel is not mentioned in the credits, it is shown on screen twice: Dodo peeks through his neighbors window and sees them watching what appears to be a porno tape, but which is actually the preview for Luomo che guarda, which features Tinto Brass as a voyeur whos reading Moravias Luomo che guarda. (Hows that for self-referencing?) A few moments later, Dodo peeks through a transom window and sees Fausta reading the novel. There is also some emphasis placed upon Célines Nord. Is that Paolo Lanza at the front of the classroom?
TECHNICAL NOTES: Most of the film was masked in the camera at 1.66:1 and needs to be projected that way. Yet several shots were mistakenly masked in the camera at the smaller 1.75:1. If you dont understand the difference, study the frame captures below.
Yes, there is an English dub available in PAL-system
SO YOU THINK IM BEING TOO PICKY? Well... in the sloppy English version: The assistant editor was credited as editor. Not too bad, you think, huh? Okay. The still photographer was credited as director of photography. The director of photography was credited as still photographer.
Still making a mountain out of a mole hill, am I? Well, here are some more examples: The dialogue coach was credited as script writer. The second assistant director was credited as location assistant. The camera operator was credited as generator operator. The focus puller was credited as electrician. The generator operator was credited as crowd coordinator. The chauffeurs were credited as the production office. The recording studio was credited as scoring. The upholsterers were credited as painters. Well, people say Im just too picky.
|The Italian Region-2 PAL DVD, which will not play on most US equipment. The DVD transfer is quite good, but cropped to 1.75:1, which is rather tight but it still works, despite the tops of so many heads being cropped off. Oddly, the image is off-center, with a black border appearing only on the left side of the screen.|
Entire 1.66:1 image transferred through the larger 1.375:1 aperture, and slightly windowboxed. You will notice that the camera aperture was overfiled (which is quite common) and is actually a bit taller, closer to 1.51:1. But, of course, since there is no such projection format, it was never intended to be shown that way.
Italian edition from CVC cropped to 1.75:1
(The US edition from Cult Epics is rather less cruel than the CVC edition)
|This is one of the two or three shots masked in the camera at 1.75:1.
No, not matted in the lab.
If it had been matted in the lab, the sheen from her hair at the top right of the image would not curve into the black border. You are probably wondering why, since the images on left and right are both 1.75:1, they look slightly different.
The answer might be rather surprising.
Films begin to shrink as soon as they come out of the lab,
and they continue to shrink until they disintegrate entirely.
Thus it is common practice for the image on the film
to be ever so slightly larger than the image that will be shown on the cinema screen.
This is done simply as a safety precaution.
1.75:1 on unshrunken film is .864" × .494".
The corresponding projector aperture is .825" × .471".
As the film shrinks over the first few months of its life,
the size of the image shrinks to something
very close to the size of the projector aperture.
Eventually it will shrink so much that it wont be projectable, and new prints from the shrunken negative will have duplicated images toward the frame lines as well as black borders on the sides that will show on screen. Also showing on screen will be images of the negative sprocket holes, usually on the right side of the frame.
Because the badly shrunken negative will no longer fit onto a normal printer,
it is transported by sprocket holes along
only one side of film and is thus
|Lulù and Matteo|
|Theatrical greats Antonio Salines and Franco Branciaroli having a great time acting silly.|
|Emotional turmoil depicted by a deliberately mistimed and undersized shutter. (This effect creates emotional turmoil in the projectionist, who will panic that the shutter clamp has slipped or that a gear has stripped.) The effect, of course, bleeds into the part of the frame that is normally masked off.|
|Dubbing director Ted Rusoff as the Porking Attendant.|
ANICA Associazione Nazionale Industrie Cinematografiche Audiovisive e Multimediali
|Soggetto e sceneggiatura di(original story and screenplay)||Tinto Brass|
|Liberamente tratta dal romanzo omonimo di (freely adapted from the novel of the same name by)||Alberto Moravia [uncredited but explicitly referenced]|
|Collaborazione al montaggio (assistant editor)||Fiorenza Müller|
|Fotografo di scena (still photographer)||Gianfranco Salis|
|Segretaria di edizione (continuity)||Carla Cipriani|
|Fotografia (director of photography)||Massimo di Venanzo|
|Scenografia e arredamento(art direction and set décor)||Maria Luigia Battani|
|Costumi (costumes)||Millina Deodato|
|Musiche composte e dirette da(music composed and directed by)||Riz Ortolani|
|Direttore di produzione (production manager)||Carmine Parmigiani|
|Organizzatore della produzione(accounts manager)||Claudio Grassetti|
|Prodotto da (produced by)||Marco Poccioni e Marco Valsania per Rodeo Drive srl, Erre Cinematografica srl|
|Scritto diretto e montato da(written, directed, and edited by)||Tinto Brass|
|Aiuto regista (assistant director)||Claudio Bernabei|
|Dialoghista (dialogue coach)||Michela Prodan|
|Assistente regia (assistant to the director)||Sabrina Ascani|
|Operatore di macchina (camera operator)||Renato Palmieri|
|Assistente operatore(assistant camera operator)||Pierandrea Pierpaoli|
|Aiuto operatore (assistant camera operator)||Claudio Palmieri|
|Operatore steady-cam||Sergio Melaranci|
|Fonico (sound)||Andrea Petrucci|
|Microfonista (boom operator)||Aristide Bigliocchi [uncredited in English version]|
|Assistenti al montaggio(assistants to the editor)||Emanuela Lucidi, Giovanna Ritter, Flora Elisa Algeri Bricoli, Carlo Simeoni|
|Assistenti scenografia (assistant art directors)||Carlo de Marino, Aslessandra Martelli|
|Assistente costumi (assistant costumer)||Cristiana Ricceri|
|Parucchiera (hairdresser)||Jole Cecchini|
|Truccatore (make-up)||Dirk Naastepad|
|Sarte (dressmakers)||Gabriella Morganti, Edda Soliani|
|Amministratori (production accountants)||Daniela Berardi, Angelo Frezza|
|Ispettore di produzione (unit manager)||Walter Mancini|
|Segreatri di produzione (production secretaries)||Francesca Romana Deodato, Patricia Radovic, Marco Spoletini|
|Aiuto segretario (assistant secretary)||Ferdinando Bossi|
|Cassiera (payroll)||Cristiana Valle|
|Capo squadra attrezzisti (prop master)||Roberto Magagnini|
|Attrezzista (props)||Ubaldo Panunzi [uncredited in English version]|
|Aiuto attrezzista (prop assistants)||Massimo Nespoli|
|Capo squadro elettricisti (gaffer)||Romano Mosconi|
|Elettricisti (best boys)||Domenico Zenga, Pietro Sottile, Carlo Catini|
|Capo squadro macchinisti (key grip)||Vittorio Rocchetti|
|Macchinisti (grips)||Paolo Anzellotti, Marcello Negretti, Massimo Spina|
|Gruppista (generator operator)||Massimo Malfa|
|Autisti produzione||Mauro Babini, Atef Abdelwahed|
|Autisti (drivers)||Giorgio Ricci, Davide Biancifiori, Stefano Marchetti|
|Ufficio stampa (publicity)||Intesa & Intesa srl|
|Adetta locations (location manager)||Ada Locatelli|
|Teatri di posa, laboratorio, Mezzi tecnici (studio, lab, technical equipment)||Cinecittà [uncredited in English version]|
|Pellicola (raw stock)||Agfa-Gevaert|
|Tecnico del colore (color technician)||Stefano Giovannini|
|Sonorizzazione (recording studio)||Fono Roma Film Recording|
|Dolby Stereo in teatri scelti|
|Assistente al doppiaggio (assistant dubber)||Corrado Russo [uncredited in English version]|
|Fonico del doppiaggio (dubbing recorder)||Franco Mirra [uncredited in English version]|
|Mixage (mixer)||Alberto Doni|
|Effetti sonori (sound effects)||Cine Audio Effects [uncredited in English version]|
|Titoli (titles)||Studio 4 [uncredited in English version]|
|Lampade (lights)||R.E.C. sas|
|Edizioni musicali (music publishers)||B.M.G. Ariola spa|
|Gioielli (jewelry)||La.Ba [uncredited in English version]|
|Parrucche (wigs)||Rocchetti & Carboni|
|Tappezzeria (upholstery)||Artigiana Arredatori e Tappezzieri, Sanchini|
|Arredamento (set décor)||G.R.P. Arredamenti Cineteatrali, E. Rancati, La Teca dellImmaginario|
|Si ringrazia per la collaborazione(for their collaboration, we thank)||PolaroidPiaggioQuotidienneImpecGarboNouvelle VagueMarvelMishelleDesmoSeleneMediateca del Centro Culturale FranceseVaraschin Rattan spaBecchetti Angelo BalArtemideUnopiúOlri Argenti [uncredited in English version]Intonacopronto srl|
|English version||Double Vue (N.B.) INC.|
|Directed by||Thor Bishopric|
|PERSONAGGI E INTERPRETI|
|Edoardo Dodo||Francesco Casale|
|???||Eleonora de Grassi|
|Suora nella piaggia||Erika Saffo Savastani|
|???||Maria la Rosa|
|Bambini||Lulù e Matteo|
|Professore / attore||Tinto Brass [uncredited]|
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