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Allonsanfan

Italy 1974. Directors: Paolo and Vittorio Taviani
Cast: Marcello Mastroianni, Lea Massari, Laura Betti, Mimsy Farmer, Claudio Cassinelli

Marcello Mastroianni stars as a reluctant revolutionary and Ennio Morricone serves up a stirring score in this tragicomic historical epic directed by brothers Paolo and Vittorio Taviani (whose next feature would be the Palme d’Or-winning Padre Padrone). The setting is Italy in 1816; the chain of events set in motion by the French Revolution serves as the backdrop: Napoleon’s empire has fallen, the Restoration is under way. Mastroianni is Fulvio, a Lombard aristocrat-turned-revolutionary whose utopian fervour has diminished during a period of incarceration. Released from prison after refusing to betray his comrades in the secret Sublime Brotherhood, he is immediately accused by those same comrades of treachery. He attempts to resume a normal life with his family, but is drawn against his will to rejoin the cause. The film is half-operatic, half-Brechtian in its stylizations, with its glossy melodramatic theatricality constantly undercut by an absurdist irony. The title, Allonsanfan, is an Italian mispronunciation of “Allons enfants,” the first words of “The Marseillaise.” “Aesthetically thrilling . . . A paean to cinema as a revolutionary medium” (Monthly Film Bulletin). “Rousing and passionate entertainment . . . A film with an even greater thrust of excitement than the Tavianis’ subsequent Padre Padrone” (Time Out). Colour, 35mm, in Italian with English subtitles. 111 mins.