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Fiorile
cast: Claudio Bigagli, Galatea Ranzi, Michael Vartan, Lino Capolicchio, and Constanze Engelbrecht

directors: Paolo and Vittorio Taviani

114 minutes (12) 1993
Arrow DVD Region 0 retail

RATING: 7/10
reviewed by Gary Couzens
A curse hangs over the Benedetti family, so much so that they have been nicknamed 'Maledetti' instead. As a family drives through the Tuscan countryside, the father tells his two young children the story...

Fiorile tells its story as three long episodes, beginning in the time of the Napoleonic Wars and ending in World War II, with the present-time sequences acting as a fourth episode. The curse began with a young French soldier, assigned to guard a mule laden with gold coins, who becomes lost. He meets and falls in love with a young Benedetti woman... and meanwhile her brother steals the gold. The young soldier is executed. The stolen gold makes the Benedettis extremely rich, but misfortune frequently befalls them. Can the children put the curse to rest?

This story is handsomely filmed by the Taviani brothers, its story-within-stories structure recalling their earlier portmanteau film Kaos. Giuseppe Lanci's camerawork is a particular standout. The parallels between the generations is emphasised by the device of the three leading actors playing two roles each. There's much to admire about the film, but somehow it's not as involving as it should be. It's the most recent of the Tavianis' films to have a British release.

Arrow's all-regions DVD is in a ratio of 1.66:1 but non-anamorphic. The subtitles may be optional (for the original mix of Italian and French dialogue) but they aren't 16:9 friendly, so zooming the picture is not going to be an option for most viewers. The soundtrack is Dolby digital 2.0, which appears to be mono - which also appears to be accurate, as there's no stereo system mentioned in the end credits.

The only extra is an 84-minute interview, from Italian television circa 1985, with the Taviani brothers. This is commendably trusting to the audience's attention span, as the camera stays on the brothers throughout, occasionally widening the shot to include the interviewer. No clips interrupt them, only occasional stills. This is a very through talk, with the brothers discussing their childhood influences, their introduction to filmmaking (witnessing Roberto Rossellini's Paisa being filmed - later, Rossellini was the chairman of the Cannes jury who awarded them the Golden Palm for Padre Padrone) and their films up to and including 1984's Kaos. This is a sizeable extra, and my only caveat is that anyone who buys Fiorile is likely to want to buy Arrow's simultaneous release of Padre Padrone, which contains the exact same extra. (Oddly, Padre Padrone, four minutes shorter, has the interview on a separate disc, while Fiorile includes it on the same disc as the feature.)
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