Like Two Crocodiles (Come due Coccodrilli) (1994)
Main Menu Audio
Trailer-Angela, Facing Windows, A Heart Elsewhere, Respiro
|Year Of Production||1994|
|RSDL / Flipper||No/No||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||2,4||Directed By||Giacomo Campiotti|
Twentieth Century Fox
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.78:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.85:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
By how much is our future mapped out by our past? And how accurate is the telescope of time when we look back at seminal, formative events in our lives? Gabriele (Fabrizio Bentivoglio), is a successful art dealer living a metropolitan dream life in his elegant Parisian apartment, doted upon by the beautiful and intelligent Claire (Sandrine Dumas). And yet, his memories of his past are a constant, haunting attendant in his dreams, disconnecting him from his present and disabling his ability to truly commit himself to life or love. He is constantly referred back to his Italian homeland, and his recollections of early life with his vital and vivacious mother (the absolutely magnificent Valeria Golino) with whom he shared an intense connection, particularly as they waited for the infrequent visits from his father, (the ever reliable Giancarlo Giannini), who has installed them in the country, far from the watchful eyes of his wife and legitimate offspring.
When tragedy strikes, his father makes the decision to incorporate his two lives, and Gabriele and his baby brother, Martino, are brought to the villa to be brought up as one family. The inclusion is far from seamless, however, and the young Gabriele is deeply affected by the rivalry and resentment displayed by his half brothers. He draws ever closer to his father, largely abandoning his own passion for art in favour of following his father's footsteps into the family glassmaking business. Gabriele's only two points of reference are his father's approval, and his intense love for his little brother Martino - and he is fiercely jealous of both relationships.
We see the cuckoo like existence for young Gabriele - always patently aware that he doesn't quite fit, and he bears his half-brothers' resentful tolerance of him heavily upon his heart. The situation explodes beyond endurance when the brothers express their outrage that their father has decided to make Gabriele his successor in the business. Fuelled by intense jealous fury, younger son Maurio goads him viciously, and finally, Gabriele runs, leaving little Martino to fend for himself.
This feeling of being abandoned, and the guilt of also abandoning Martino have crafted the disconnected adult that Gabriele has become. When a brochure arrives at his Paris workplace announcing an insolvency auction to be held in his Italian home town, he instantly recognises one of the principal pieces, and knows that it has a vastly more significant background than the brochure refers to. He sets off for a journey into the past with revenge firmly in the centre of his mind.
What ensues is a journey of discovery that is both painful, surprising, and ultimately cathartic. Like Two Crocodiles is an alluring film that never overplays its hand. It has a distinctly masculine feel to it, and is never cloying or overly sentimental. As an audience, we are not over informed, allowing us instead to make discoveries at the same time Gabriele does, and its denouement is satisfyingly undramatic. The performances are universally superlative and the cinematography is sublime and quite dreamlike at times. There are a couple of clumsy edits that I found quite jarring and the camera work is occasionally invasive but the overall presentation of the story is very satisfying indeed. The transfer, tragically, is another matter.
The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 16x9 enhanced.
The overall transfer is disappointingly soft, creating a lacklustre, flat overall effect. Contrast is frequently quite dead and there is low level noise present. Grain levels are frequently very bad and the shadows have a tendency to be very blocked indeed, rendering precious little detail at all.
The colours are generally acceptable with mostly natural skin tones, but it's rather varied in quality with some scenes quite overblown and others quite flat in the colour palette.
Unfortunately, this film is loaded to the gunnels with artefacts that are very intrusive on the experience. The original stock must have been filthy! There are significant dust spots, scratches and all manner of gunk marring virtually every scene. This is particularly distracting in shots with large expanses of bright sky - the grain and dust and scratch marks speckle and pop like a grungey fireworks display. There is also significant incidence of telecine wobble which makes one far too aware of the technical problems of the stock, rather than being immersed in the story.
This is a single sided disc, so fortunately we don't have to add a clumsy layer change to its litany of sins!
The soundtrack is delivered in Italian Dolby Digital 2.0.
The dialogue is clear enough and there are no significant audio sync problems. The subtitles, however, are another matter again! Never have I seen such poor subtitles! They are unstable, frequently white on white, poorly spelt and formatted, so that, for example, the word "hill" will have its second "l" on a new line of text - very strange! There are times when they look 'bitten-off' - parts of letters missing, words sliding off the screen - what a shamozzle! This is very unfortunate as again, it pulls us out of the movie experience and makes us far too conscious of the technical nasties at work here.
The musical score by Stefano Caprioli is haunting and wonderful. He has captured the internal landscape of Gabriele's world perfectly, and the songs performed by Lucio Dalia are wonderfully atmospheric.
The use of surround is adequate considering its 2.0 origins and there is mild and appropriate utilisation of the subwoofer.
|Surround Channel Use|
The menu is static with theme music.
This runs for 1:34 with subtitles.
12 images - both film shots and behind the scenes.
Static and silent film lists for Fabrizio Bentivoglio, Giancarlo Giannini and Valeria Golino.
Trailers for Angela, Facing Window, A Heart Elsewhere and Respiro.
I could find no evidence of an alternative Region disc. Shame really - given this one's technical imperfections.
Bad transfer not withstanding, this film still has much to offer. It is a haunting study on the disparity between perception and reality, and how those perceptions shape our lives. It is elegant, eloquent and understated, and leaves behind it a feeling of warm melancholy and quiet optimism.
|DVD||Singer SGD-001, using S-Video output|
|Display||Teac 76cm Widescreen. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.|
|Amplification||Teac 5.1 integrated system|
|Speakers||Teac 5.1 integrated system|