Monday, October 17, 2011
Rocco and his Brothers
Today I watched Rocco and his Brothers, directed by
Luchino Visconti in 1960. I bet you can tell how much I liked this just based on the poster. It's barely even worth me trying to write a few nice sounding introductory paragraphs where I try to explain what might be good about the film. I guess I'm just really tired of movies like this. Part of it is having no choice about watching it (it's frustrating to be stressed out and then have to watch a 3 hour long movie that deals with your personal triggers), and part of it is just that I'm tired of movies where women just sort of suffer to forward the story that revolves around male characters. It's really not that awful of a movie, but my mood really is not working with it.
Here's the plot: "The widow Rosaria moves to Milano from Lucania with her 4 sons, one of whom is Rocco. The fifth son, Vincenzo, already lives in Milano. In the beginning, the family has a lot of problems, but everyone manages to find something to do. Simone is boxing, Rocco works in a dry cleaners, and Ciro studies. Simone meets Nadia, a prostitute, and they have a stormy affair. Then Rocco, after finishing his military service, begins a relationship with her. A bitter feud ensues between the two brothers, which will lead as far as murder" (IMDB).
I guess maybe not being a man, I didn't get the whole "bitter feud" between the brothers. Like, Simone goes as far as to rape Nadia in front of Rocco to prove...something. Ebert writes that the actress plays this scene "heroically". I wish I could explain what is wrong with that, but I'm far too exhausted right now. The whole scene is stupid. The shots focus on how upset Rocco is about the girl being raped, and then afterward, she stumbles off into the darkness while the camera follows Rocco home, since that's what really matters, here. It's pretty offensive and lazy to make rape into something that just transforms the men who experience it. I mean, sure, it can do that, but it just bothers me, I guess. It reminded me of how in Gran Tornino, the girl in it is raped solely as motivation for the two male characters to act. The story never really checks back in to how she's doing, or how she feels about anything. It's just sort of a vague plot device, and it's full of laziness. It's kind of a heavy and extremely real issue, which is why it seems so dumb when it's treated like this. To me, at least. I don't just feel this way about the wymmins or whatever, though - if Nadia was a man I'd be equally irritated. If any other serious subject was treated so flippantly I'd be equally irritated. I know it's a movie and melodrama and all that. I get it. But this is just one of those things that always rubs me the wrong way, melodrama or not. It's totally a personal thing, you know?
The whole "but she suffers for love!" plot is lost on me. I don't really want to suffer for love, nor do I really want to watch anyone else do it. Honestly, a huge part of this is that I watched the movie after a stressful day of work. I'm always a fan of thinking about things that we look at, and disagree that people should just turn off their brains during a movie. But everyone has their thing that they need to do to unwind from work or from stress - be it reality TV or a crafty hobby. I happen to like stupid TV. It's an hour to get caught up in things that aren't my own problems and laugh, usually. Like, I love to watch House. Not the smartest show or the best show, but I love it. It's stress-relieving to watch it. I don't want people to just look at movies as something to shut their brains up, but I do understand the need to sometimes just do something...fun, I guess. I think this is where my lack of choice in what I watch is bothering me. I can't put this movie aside for a day where I feel like I could address it better. I had to watch it today, and today, when I got home, what I really needed was to relax. I don't want to switch off my brain during every movie I see. I hope that you get that from just reading my blog. But there are, for sure, times that you need to do whatever is life-giving for you, be it watching House or reading a good book.
Like I've always said, everyone has things that bother them in movies. Some people who have lost pets cannot stand when animals die or are abused. Some people are touchy about children suffering. I'm touchy about violence against women. It's my baggage that I take into films and while it's not movie-critic professional to let it bother me, I can't really help it. Plus, I'm not a movie critic, just a dopey blogger, so I allow myself to dislike something just based on personal feelings. So I feel ok saying it bothers me when there's not a character I can relate to or would want to imagine being. It bothers me sometimes the way serious issues are handled. And it bothers me sometimes to have to watch it when I'm not in the mood for it. When people go to their movie shelf to pick a movie, they never say, "I'm in the mood for a comedy but I'm not going to watch it because it's important to watch serious films about depressing issues only." You just pick what you are in the mood for. I wasn't in the mood for melodrama. I'm stressed out by work right now and don't really feel like watching a movie that hits a nerve.
I feel bad that I didn't really give this movie an unbiased look, but I'm not sure that I ever could, just because of who I am and what I bring into films. I always look for female characters that I can relate to or would like to be, and it gets old when I see movie after movie where I can't find that. We all watch movies or TV based on our moods - I watch plenty of serious, melodramatic, or depressing films, but I watch them when I'm in a good state of mind for it. Today I needed to just relax, and this movie was really not relaxing. It's not the movie's fault, and maybe sometime in the future when I'm up for it I'll watch it again and see what I think (I actually had to buy a copy of this to see it).
Have any thoughts on Rocco and his Brothers? Share them in the comments!
Ebert's Great Movie Essay on Rocco and his Brothers
Buy it on Amazon