Hannibal (Annibale) (1959) (NTSC)

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Released 9-Jun-2010

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Historical Epic Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1959
Running Time 99:50
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Carlo Ludovico Bragaglia
Edgar G. Ulmer

Beyond Home Entertainment
Starring Victor Mature
Gabriele Ferzetti
Rita Gam
Milly Vitale
Rik Battaglia
Franco Silva
Terence Hill
Mirko Ellis
Andrea Aureli
Andrea Fantasia
Renzo Cesana
Bud Spencer
Case Amaray-Opaque
RPI ? Music Carlo Rustichelli

Video (NTSC) Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 480i (NTSC)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

Tagline: ďHere comes the avenging Hannibal and his crazed elephant armyĒ

†††† When the north African city of Carthage is threatened by the power of Rome in 218 BC, Carthaginian general Hannibal (Victor Mature) goes on the offensive. In the depths of winter Hannibal marches his army including elephants across the frozen Alps and invades northern Italy, catching the divided Roman Senate by surprise. There he captures Sylvia (Rita Gam), the niece of Roman Senator Fabius Maximus (Gabriele Ferzetti) and Fabiusí son Quintilius (Mario Girotti, better known in later films, such as the Trinity series, under the name Terence Hill. As an aside, Hillís partner in the Trinity films, Bud Spencer (or Carlo Pedersoli), also has a small part in this film). The attraction between Hannibal and Sylvia is immediate, but Hannibal shows Sylvia the might of the Carthaginian army and lets her go, hoping that he can make peace with Rome.

†††† Back in the Roman Senate, Fabius counsels caution, but his political enemies are itching for a fight and send Roman armies to attack Hannibal. However, Hannibal wins a number of victories and stands ready to march on Rome. Sylvia disobeys her uncle and visits Hannibalís camp; they fall deeply in love and Sylvia remains with Hannibal, despite the opposition of some of his officers who believe she will cloud Hannibalís commitment to defeating Rome. In a battle near Cannae, the Romans suffer a catastrophic defeat; Rome appears helpless, appointing Fabius Pro-consul and calling up their remaining troops. In his hour of triumph, Hannibal hesitates; is it because of Sylvia or because he believes his army is too weak to capture Rome without the reinforcements his brother is bringing from Carthage. But the Carthaginians, wary of Hannibalís ambition, send few troops; instead Hannibalís wife Danila (Mily Vitale) and his small son arrive in camp. Sylvia flees in distress, knowing that she will be put to dead as a traitor by the Romans. All hope for peace gone, the war will continue for another 15 years.

†††† In the 1950s and 1960s a number of American actors were enticed to Europe to appear in Italian produced films. One of the most famous (subsequently) was Clint Eastwood for Sergio Leoneís Dollars Trilogy but in the decade before Victor Mature had made the same trip and in 1959 he starred in Hannibal (also known as Annibale). Indeed, it was not only actors who made the trip to Europe: Hannibal was co-directed by European born American low budget specialist Edgar G. Ulmer, although co-directed is a loose term. In the end the film was released in two different cuts; one in Italy and Germany that ran 91 minutes for which the director credit went to Carlo Ludovico Bragaglia, and the American release, credited to Ulmer, that ran 100 minutes. This DVD features the American version of the film. For a comparison of the two different cuts, click here.

†††† Hannibal is an entertaining, slow building spectacular. Filmed mostly out of doors (in Serbia) the location widescreen photography, especially of the snow covered mountain passes, looks wonderful, and the major battle sequence of Cannae, with hundreds of real human extras spread across the screen and filling the background, is good, old fashioned chaos, something that no amount of CGI trickery can ever replicate. Some of the dialogue may suffer in translation: the nicely tautological ďwe are surrounded on all sidesĒ is one gem, and the acting is a mixed bag. Victor Mature is suitably stoic as Hannibal, but Rita Gam does not really convince and some of the overacting by bit players is grating. In contrast, Gabriele Ferzetti is excellent; probably better recognised from his role as the railway baron Morton in Leoneís Once Upon a Time in the West(1968), in Hannibal his Fabius is by far the best developed character and his conflict with the Senate, and the horrible choices he is forced to make in respect of his own family, are very moving. Terence Hill, as Fabiusí son, is also good.

†††† Hannibal may not have a large budget, and also plays somewhat loose with history, but it is an old fashioned epic that looks spectacular, has some impressive acting and is very entertaining. There are far worse ways to spend 100 minutes.

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Transfer Quality


†††† Hannibal is presented in a ratio of 2.35:1, the original theatrical ratio, and is 16x9 enhanced. It is an NTSC print.

†††† This 50+ year old low budget film looks pretty good for its age. The colour in the wide shots is quite dull and faded although in the close ups it is much better. Brightness and contrast does fluctuate, which also affects the skin tones, but nothing serious. Sharpness and clarity are on the soft side as one might expect, blacks are generally fine although shadow detail can be indistinct in some scenes. Small artefacts appear occasionally, there is some motion blur and acceptable film grain. None of this is distracting.

†††† There are no subtitles.

†††† The layer change at 73:35 resulted in a slight pause.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


†††† Audio is an English Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo at 192 Kbps, not surround encoded. Dialogue was always easy to understand and the effects were acceptable, although understandably without depth. In the quieter moments there was evident slight hiss and the occasional crackle, but nothing too serious.

†††† The score by the prolific Carlo Rustichelli (in the IMDb he has 264 titles listed) is melodramatic when it needs to be but is generally unremarkable.

†††† As the film features an international cast, lip synchronization is variable, but is mostly OK.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


Theatrical Trailer (2:14)

†††† Nicely old fashioned.


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R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

†††† The Region 1 US has similar technical specifications and includes other trailers, a photo and poster gallery plus an audio Q&A with director Edgar G. Ulmer moderated by director Peter Bogdanovich. This goes for about 30 minutes and is reported to be worth a listen. On that basis, the Region 1 is superior.

†††† There does not appear to be a Region 2 UK release listed, nor can I find any record of the Italian cut of the film being available.


†††† Hannibal may not have a large budget, and also plays somewhat loose with history, but it is an old fashioned epic that looks spectacular, has some impressive acting and is very entertaining.

†††† The audio and video are not bad for a 50+ year old film. A trailer is the only extra, as we miss out on the US audio interview.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Thursday, March 01, 2012
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

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