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Author Topic: La grande guerra (The Great War) (1959)  (Read 2225 times)
drinkanddestroy
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« on: December 04, 2014, 05:37:11 PM »

Previews just began.  85 people in the theater Smiley

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« Reply #1 on: December 04, 2014, 06:16:26 PM »

DJ, check out Silvana Mangano's armpit hair!
Vittorio Gassman mentions Bakunin - also mentioned in DYS, of course.
Film quality is not good. Needs a restoration.
Audience seems to be enjoying themselves, laughing.


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« Reply #2 on: December 04, 2014, 06:47:51 PM »

An hour into the movie: this is actually about soldiers in the war, NOT  about drifters whose lives are interrupted by war. Ether Frayling gave the wrong implication, or I misinterpreted him. For some reason I thought it was about drifters whose lives were interrupted by the war, but it's not - it's actually about soldiers in the war.
Another GBU connection: in addition to Vincenzon, Age-Scarpelli are also credited writers. There  is a scene where a bridge is supposed to be taken and it is blown up (though not the centerpiece of a scene like in GBU).
Another Leone connection: Romolo Valli has an important part of a lieutenant.
Good movie, we are enjoying it thus far Smiley

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« Reply #3 on: December 04, 2014, 06:56:33 PM »

Early on the film quality was real bad. Now it isn't bothering me. Not sure if these later reels are better or if I just got used to it Smiley

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« Reply #4 on: December 04, 2014, 08:29:10 PM »

Just finished LA GRANDE GUERRA.
I definitely recommend it, it is a very good movie Smiley
I was under the impression that it was about 2 drifters whose driftings the war keeps interrupting. But that impression (whether I misinterpreted Frayling or not) is wrong. There are indeed two tramps who aren't interested in war, but they are soldiers and the entire movie follows them and their regiment in battle. It is totally a (n anti-) war movie; it's not at all like GBU in which the tramps have other business which gets interrupted by war. Of course, these guys (like most others) would rather not have to be there fighting, but DO spend the entire movie in an army regiment. A bridge does come into play a few times in the story (though there are no spectacular scenes where blowing up the bridge is the centerpiece of the scene like in GBU).
Other than showing the horrors of war and a bridge being involved, this movie shares nothing storywise with GBU.
Of course, since WWI was a trench war, this movie has lots of trench scenes; and GBU's big battle scene have trenches (which I believe are an intended reference to WWI, just as Leone also made intentional references to WWII in GBU. In fact, Leone made intentional references to both world wars in DYS, as well).

Anyway, nothing to do with Leone, I recommend LGG as a very good movie.

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« Reply #5 on: December 04, 2014, 09:47:26 PM »

Just finished LA GRANDE GUERRA.
I definitely recommend it, it is a very good movie Smiley
I was under the impression that it was about 2 drifters whose driftings the war keeps interrupting. But that impression (whether I misinterpreted Frayling or not) is wrong. There are indeed two tramps who aren't interested in war, but they are soldiers and the entire movie follows them and their regiment in battle. It is totally a (n anti-) war movie; it's not at all like GBU in which the tramps have other business which gets interrupted by war. Of course, these guys (like most others) would rather not have to be there fighting, but DO spend the entire movie in an army regiment. A bridge does come into play a few times in the story (though there are no spectacular scenes where blowing up the bridge is the centerpiece of the scene like in GBU).
Other than showing the horrors of war and a bridge being involved, this movie shares nothing storywise with GBU.
Of course, since WWI was a trench war, this movie has lots of trench scenes; and GBU's big battle scene have trenches (which I believe are an intended reference to WWI, just as Leone also made intentional references to WWII in GBU. In fact, Leone made intentional references to both world wars in DYS, as well).

Anyway, nothing to do with Leone, I recommend LGG as a very good movie.

Great to hear

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« Reply #6 on: December 05, 2014, 03:38:14 AM »

so, I counted about 80-85 people here for Film Forum's one and only showing of LGG. Mostly older people.

末末末末末末末末末末末末末末末

the dubbing seemed very good here.
sometimes with the Italian movies that did post-synchronization, the dubbing is bad, you can tell it was not recorded directly. Here, it really sounds good, I am not sure if it was recorded directly or if they just did a really good job in the dubbing studio. (I noticed at least one moment where a character bangs a metal can and you don't hear it on the soundtrack, so that may be indicative that they did not record direct sound. On the other hand, that was in a post-battle scene where it's possible that certain sounds are heightened and certain sounds lowered/eliminated, you know, to get like into the mind of a character?) Anyway, I am sure that at least part of it was post-dubbed because these big battle scenes rarely use direct sound; I don't know if any of it was recorded directly or not. But the point is, the dubbing here was very good (besides perhaps for that one moment I mentioned above where they should have had the metal can make noise  Wink ) and didn't have the problems of some post-dubbed movies where it's obvious that sound was not recorded directly.

-------------------------------------

Interesting point: This movie, obviously, is in Italian, with English subtitles on bottom of the screen. But there are a (very few) scenes that involve Austrian soldiers speaking in German, and in those scenes there are Italian subtitles on bottom of the screen (in a different font), and on top of the screen there are English subtitles.

So I'm guessing that here is what happened - totally a guess: This is an old Italian print, originally intended for showings in Italy - that's why they wrote those Italian subtitles for those scenes where German is spoken. At some later point, this print was brought to America, so English subtitles were added; but for those scenes where the Italian subtitles were already burned in, they didn't (or couldn't) take them away, so they just added the English subtitles on top of the Italian ones.
It's not a big deal, it's just that for a very few scenes where German is spoken, there are both Italian and English subtitles. But it's kinda interesting. Who knows, maybe this is an original Italian print. From the way some of the early reels were beat up, this wouldn't surprise me  Wink

----------------------------------

This movie really should get a restoration and US release on DVD/BRD. It is a very good movie. There is comedy yet the movie is absolutely shows the horrors of war. I didn't find it offensive or anything like that; I remember reading something about John Ford once, saying he would put humor even in serious movies to break up the tension. Somehow, I guess that if a movie is serious all the time, maybe it wouldn't be enjoyable, but the fact that there is some good humor in there makes it feel less "heavy" and therefore the movie is more enjoyable. I obviously don't just mean that only comedy is enjoyable; what I mean is that if the movie, about a very serious and sad subject, was serious all the time, it would feel "heavy" and not be a movie that people could enjoy much; but the fact that the tension is broken by the funny comedy scenes makes us like the movie more than if it was "heavy" all around. I hope y'all understand what I am saying, I don't know if I am finding the right words (as usual)  Wink

Point is, there is some very funny humor not silly; but good, funny stuff and some incredibly serious, sad stuff. There are some scenes of the killing fields that are so amazing; and especially when you consider that this is a black-and-white movie with a beat-up print, I mean, you could swear some of these war scenes are real newsreels or something, you'd think it was real footage!

I guess maybe this point you can say is a similarity with GBU, how it can mix some great humor with some real poignant and serious stuff

-----------------

the movie is in CinemaScope (is that rare for an Italian movie, to be in CinemaScope not Techniscope)? Happily, this movie doesn't have the problem that CinemaScope often has, of the panning shots looking curved. (Another problem CinemaScope often has is that it is horizontally stretched, the faces are fatter than in other movies. I am not sure if that was an issue here; I didn't notice it being a problem, but maybe the only way to tell is to be familiar with the actors so you can compare their faces to what they look like in other movies. Not certain, but it didn't jump out at me as being a problem here.)

---------------

Oh, and btw, the acting is really wonderful, up and down the cast  Afro Afro Afro

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« Reply #7 on: December 05, 2014, 03:39:01 AM »

has anybody else here seen La Grande Guerra?

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« Reply #8 on: December 05, 2014, 05:11:01 AM »

Not seen yet, but I have a good story about The Battle of Caporetto, my cousin's grandfather was there in the function of a muleskinner, and that he had this favorite mule that was very intelligent that he had taught to do tricks, and it followed him around like a dog. He was in a supply depot and he told us that the attack started with an artillery bombardment. There was a huge flash and when he came to he was trapped un-harmed (except that he was very hard of hearing the rest of his days) under that dead mule behind the lines. Everyone else in the depot was dead. That mule saved his life.

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« Reply #9 on: December 05, 2014, 06:21:11 AM »

I'm trying to think more about whether or not there are connections to GBU

I guess you can say that thematically, they both de-mythologize the heroism and idealism of war. Blondie & Tuco aren't soldiers (though they pretend to be at times) they just don't want the war to interfere with their search for gold; whereas as I said, LGG is a war movie, following a regiment through a war. But the soldiers in LGG aren't interested in fighting, they don't have respect for their superior officers, the movie makes fun of one officer who is very careful with the army's supplies, like when a private needs a broom to sweep the floor, this officer requires that he get a form with a special stamp just to check out the broom from the supply room; there is one officer (played by Romolo Valli) a lieutenant who is a positive character, and he himself doesn't seem to be all that idealistic. In that regard, maybe you can say he is kinda like the Union captain played by Aldo Giuffre in GBU. No, the Valli character is no drunk, he seems to be a competent and dedicated officer, but he is not taken in by any idealism or whatever, he isn't an "army man," he doesn't give any speeches about fighting for freedom or anything like that; basically, he is there cuz he has to be there and not cuz he believes in anything, but while there he does the best job he could and his men seem to really love him.
There are no speeches about heroism or making the world safe for democracy or idealism or any of that. It's a bunch of people fighting for reasons they never discuss and perhaps know nothing about, and who would rather be anywhere else. In that regard, I guess yes, LGG does share an important thematic similarity with GBU. And both movies show the horrors of war, the aftermath of brutal battles, etc. Definitely anti-war themes.

I didn't notice even a single speech, line, joke, gag or any other thing that I can say GBU directly copied. Maybe when some of y'all see LGG you'll find something I missed.

But I guess I can say that an important theme that LGG and GBU share is that they both oppose the heroism-idealism view of war.

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« Reply #10 on: December 05, 2014, 10:42:57 AM »

I'm trying to think more about whether or not there are connections to GBU



Vincenzoni.

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« Reply #11 on: December 05, 2014, 12:33:57 PM »

I never assumed form what I knew about the film that La grande guerra was more than a very indirect influence.

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« Reply #12 on: December 06, 2014, 05:18:33 PM »

Vincenzoni.

Obviously, Vincenzoni being the writer is why the connection was made in the first place. I mean, I am trying to think if the two movies have story/thematic connections other than the simple fact that Vincenzoni wrote a movie about a war

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« Reply #13 on: December 06, 2014, 06:01:50 PM »

I never assumed form what I knew about the film that La grande guerra was more than a very indirect influence.

I never assumed form what I knew about the film that La grande guerra was more than a very indirect influence.

Have you seen LGG?

And have you listened to Frayling's GBU commentary? (It's a great commentary, as usual; though it is available only on the BRD, not on DVD) I seem to recall that Frayling implies real similarities between the stories of the two movies. But I may well have misinterpreted Frayling's intent there.
I'm certainly not going to re-listen to that whole commentary just to see if I misinterpreted him there, but I will check in STDWD to see what he says about it

here are the references to LGG in STDWD (thanks to STDWD's index) :

-------------------------------------------------
p. 170, (in the chapter on FAFDM), Frayling introduces Luciano Vincenzoni:

Vincenzoni had since becoem a much-respected screenwriter, specializing in what he called 'comedia all'italiana,' sometimes with a political twist. For Mario Monicelli, he wrote (with Age and Scarpelli) his breakthrough film La Grande Guerra (1959). It concerned two unlikely rogues (a conscript from Rome, another from Milan) who become heroes, despite themselves, in the First World War.

------------------------------------------------------


p. 202, Leone, Grimaldi, and Vincenzoni are meeting with UA execs to get them to distribute FAFDM in the USA. Vincenzoni recalls:

As is typical of the Americans when they're doing business, the first thing they said when the contract had been signed was, "now let's cross-collateralize, let's compensate profits and loss with the next film. Oh, by the way, what is the next film?" Well, we hadn't got any plans. So with the tacit agreement of Leone and Grimaldi, I began to invent things. "It's a film," I said, "about three rogues who are looking for some treasure at the time of the American Civil War in the same kind of spirit as La Grande Guerra/The Great War which you distributed in America.


So it is Vincenzoni who makes the connection here between GBU and LGG.


--------------------------------------------------------

p. 214, talking about Celine's Journey to the End of the Night, which Vincenzoni admired and Leone claimed to  Frayling says:

There is a strong flavor of Celine's book in GBU as there had been, six years previously, in LGG. In both cases, Luciano Vincenzoni probably put it there.

--------------------------------------------------------

p. 215, Frayling begins by quoting Scarpelli RE: his collaboration with Leone:

" ... In all film people, there's a secret and infantile passion for the Western, so we agreed to collaborate on this film ... He had always wanted to remake La Grande Guerra as a Western. But the encounter with him turned out to be fatal." The collaboration misfired, as Leone saw it, because Age-Scarpelli didn't appreciate his vision. He didn't want to make a slapstick comedy of a Western. He wanted to make an epic Western, where "different levels of irony" would be applied to each of the main characters ...

(I'm not sure if Frayling is referring specifically to LGG when he says something about slapstick comedy, but LGG is absolutely not a slapstick comedy.)
-----------------------------------------------------

So, any link mentioned between the stories of LGG and GBU in STDWD are quotes from Leone's collaborators, not Frayling himself saying it. As I said, though, my impression of the link between the two was really from Frayling's BRD commentary on GBU; but it may well have been a mistaken impression, or I may have forgotten or whatever.

At this point, it doesn't matter. Bottom line is that LGG is a very good movie, I am happy I saw it, and any of you who haven't seen it should try to do so  Smiley

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« Reply #14 on: December 07, 2014, 12:01:23 AM »

Vincenzoni took the idea for LGG from a Maupassant's story. Little remained of it after it was rielaborated for the movie by Age & Scarpelli.

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