Written by: Michael Den Boer on February 16th, 2012
Theatrical Release Date: Italy, 1971
Director: Alfredo Gianetti
Writer: Alfredo Gianetti
Cast:Anna Magnani, Vittorio Caprioli, Christian Hay
DVD released:March 13th, 2012
Approximate running time: 93 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1 Full Frame
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono Italian
DVD Release: Raro Video
Region Coding: Region 0 NTSC
Retail Price: $29.98
Synopsis: Disenchanted with her life in the big city, an aging prostitute spreads her wings by buying car and thus giving her the freedom to go places she had never been before.
The Automobile was written and directed by Alfredo Gianetti, who is most known for co-writing the screenplay for Divorce Italian Style (a film that won the 1963 Academy Award for Best Writing, Story and Screenplay – Written Directly for the Screen). The score for The Automobile was composed by Ennio Morricone a prolific composer, who is most known for his collaborations with Sergio Leone and Dario Argento. Five of his scores have been nominated for Academy Awards, to date his only Oscar is a honorary one that was presented to him in 2007.
The Automobile is one of three T.V. production’s that Alfredo Gianetti directed and all three stories featured the same leading lady Anna Magnani (The Rose Tattoo, Mamma Roma). The other two stories that make up this trilogy include, Tre Donne and 1943: Un incontro.
Though the bulk of this film showcases the protagonist is a more light hearted way. It is this film’s final act which takes on a much darker tone, that leaves the strongest impression. During this final act, the free spirited protagonist, is left broken after entrusting her most cherished possession, a new car, in the hands of stranger.
On the surface there is not that much going on this film, as the narrative follows the protagonist from one mundane event to the next. And while in most instances such plainness could stop a film dead in its track. That is not the case here.
In fact it is this simplistic approach to the events which unfold that make’s Anna Magnani’s performance all the more impressive. Is the way in which she effortlessly is able to create a utterly tangible persona, thus making her characters demise all the more impactful. If anything, this film’s greatest weakest are the performances from the rest of cast, who are all nothing more than background fodder. Ultimately The Automobile is a fairly straight forward look into the ‘a few days in the life’ of a prostitute, that only works as well as its does because of Anna Magnani’s extraordinary performance.
Raro Video presents The Automobile in its intended 1.33:1 full frame aspect ratio. Quality wise this transfer very good for a film that was shot for television. Edge enhancement is minimal and there are no problems with compression.
This release comes with one audio option, a Dolby Digital mono mix in English and removable English subtitles have been included with this release. The audio sounds clear and balanced throughout.
Extras for this release include a trailer for the film (1 minute 44 seconds – 1.33:1 full frame, in Italian with English subtitles) and a interview with film critic Mario Sesti (16 minutes 36 seconds -letterboxed widescreen, in Italian with English subtitles). Topics discussed in the interview include, he starts off with a brief analytical breakdown of the film, Anna Magnani’s place in Italian cinema and her performance for The Automobile. Also included with this release DVD-Rom content – a fully illustrated PDF file with a essay about the film, comments from Anna Magnani about acting, a essay about the latter part of Anna Magnani ‘s career as an actress and a bio for Anna Magnani, a bio and filmography for screenwriter / director Alfredo Gianetti. Overall The Automobile is another strong release from Raro Video.