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No Shame Films presents
Story of a Love Affair (1950)

"We're not happy, and we never will be."
- Guido (Massimo Girotti)

Review By: Jeff Wilson  
Published: June 28, 2005

Stars: Massimo Girotti, Lucia Bosè, Ferdinando Sarmi
Other Stars: Gino Rossi, Marika Rowsky
Director: Michelangelo Antonioni

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for nothing objectionable
Run Time: 01:38:03
Release Date: June 28, 2005
UPC: 850752001691
Genre: foreign


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A A-BB- A

DVD Review

We all need to start somewhere; not every director will burst out of the box with a Citizen Kane, but one could do far worse than producing a Story of a Love Affair, as Michaelangelo Antonioni did in his first narrative film. A chilly, noirish study of a couple reunited under suspicious circumstances, Story set the tone for Antonioni's future work, with its characters stranded within their own loneliness, no matter how close they get to another person.

Story opens with Carloni, a detective (Gino Rossi) assigned to investigate Paola (Lucia Bosè), the young wife of industrialist Enrico Fontana (Ferdinando Sarmi). Enrico is curious about his wife's mysterious past, having married her during the war after a brief courtship. Now, seven years later, he has decided that he wants to find out what she was up to before then. Not a good idea. So Carloni begins digging, and finds out about the somewhat shady death of a close friend of Paola's, who was engaged to Guido (Massimo Girotti). Paola and Guido were at the scene of death, though no official accusation against them was ever made.

Carloni's investigation leads to Guido finding out about Carloni's efforts, and he locates Paola to tell her the news. Both are nervous about what Carloni is looking for, and the wise choice was made to not let us know early on what their real guilt in the matter is. In the end, it's not so important anyway, as Antonioni wants to focus on the pair's relationship, such as it is. While Enrico has unwittingly brought them together again, a happy ending is not necessarily in the cards for anyone.

If you considered Antonioni one of those arty types who made movies about alienation and ennui in which not a whole lot happened, then I'd suggest you take a look at this film. Fans of film noir will want to give this a look also, as the storyline fits into the world of noir fairly well, although the crime angle is less important than the overall effect it has on the participants. NoShame have done North American film fans a service in bringing this film to audiences here, given its previous existence in subpar versions, when it was even available at all.

The performances are solid all around; as Paola, Lucia Bosè was acting older than she actually was, but she pulls off the character's icy detachment well. Paola is a social climber and shows it in her parade of high fashion outfits. Massimo Girotti is the other half of the film's focus, and he provides a suitably weary tone to Guido. Even when their relationship is at its peak, both never rise to any great heights of joy, but their performances remain compelling.

Antonioni's constantly moving camera provides the film with a subtle tension, and his general move away from the prevelant neo-realism movement is covered in depth on the second disc's extras. It's rare these days that we get to discover a film, but Story of a Love Affair is one of those films that should enjoy a new life on DVD.

Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: A-

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: Presented in its original full-frame ratio, Story of a Love Affair has unfortunately been transferred in an interlaced PAL conversion. There is some ghosting present, although it's not as bad as some similar presentations I've seen. The larger your display, the more this may bother you. I watched the film once on a 27" screen and didn't notice it much, but when I played it on a 57" HD set, the defects were far more evident. All that said, the film looks generally fine for one that was thought to be nearly lost.

Image Transfer Grade: B

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
MonoItalian, Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: The original Italian mono soundtrack is the preferred one, and this choice is even recommended on the language choice screen, the first time I've seen such a message. Still, if you don't wish to read subtitles, there is an occasionally static-laden English track as well. The Italian track is somewhat harsh, due to the limitations of the equipment that Antonioni and company had to work with. Still, it conveys the dialogue and score clearly enough.

Audio Transfer Grade: B-

 

Disc Extras

Static menu with music
Scene Access with 12 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
2 Documentaries
2 Featurette(s)
Packaging: Gladiator style 2-pack
Picture Disc
2 Discs
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. Collectible booklet with essays and interviews
  2. Poster gallery
  3. Stills gallery
Extras Review: The extras are for the most part, very good, though they could be better organized in at least one case. The first disc includes Restoring a Masterpiece (08m:28s), which is self-explanatory; the featurette includes interviews with the principal individuals who worked on the restoration of the film, a difficult job due to a lack of quality surviving elements. A selection of stills and poster art is included on Disc 1 as well.

The second disc holds three pieces of varying worth. The most worthless is Story of a Peculiar Night (29m:00s), filmed at the premiere of the restored print of the film. Shot entirely on handheld camcorder, this nearly half-hour film contains less than ten minutes of meaningful material. The rest is padding, with endless shots of people entering the theater, people chatting to one another, shots of VIP name stickers on seatbacks, and so on. The interviews, such as they are, are brief and mostly gathered while audience members were leaving the theater. Hence, they have a "leave me alone" quality to most of them, and most are simply comments like "it was beautiful/a masterpiece/etc". Lucia Bosè does appear, though older and sporting spiky blue hair, she was virtually unrecognizable from the young beauty in the film. You can skip this and not miss anything.

The real meat of the extras comes in Identification of a Masterpiece, a lengthy (01h:52m:46s) collection of interviews with assistant director Francesco Maselli and several film scholars who discuss the film. There is some interesting material here, but it would have been much better served if it were broken up into smaller blocks, or at least indexed on a separate menu. As it is, the piece is given only five chapter stops, and none after the 52 minute mark. Still, if you're a fan of the film and Antonioni, you'll no doubt enjoy it whatever the format. It is presented in nonanamoprhic widescreen and looks average.

Finally, there is Fragments of a Love Affair (05m:35s), in which Maselli briefly visits some of the locations of the film, filling in some of the background about the making of the film. It's interesting and doesn't wear out its welcome.

Extras Grade: A

 

Final Comments

Michaelangelo Antonioni's first film is provided with a packed two-disc set, sure to please most fans of the director, and likely to win him some new ones as well. The presentation of the film itself is not optimal, but many will not find much else to complain about.

 


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