Written by: Michael Den Boer on September 19th, 2015
Theatrical Release Date: Italy / USA, 1976
Director: Federico Fellini
Writers: Federico Fellini, Bernardino Zapponi
Adpated From: Giacomo Casanova autobiography “Storia della mia vita”
Cast: Donald Sutherland, Tina Aumont, Cicely Browne, Carmen Scarpitta, John Karlsen, Reggie Nalder
BluRay released: September 7th, 2015
Approximate running time: 154 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Rating: 18 (UK)
Sound: LPCM Mono Italian, LPCM Mono English
BluRay Release: Mr. Bongo
Region Coding: Region Free
Retail Price: £9.99 (UK)
Casanova was co-written and directed by Federico Fellini whose other notable films include, La Dolce Vita, 8 ½ and the ‘Toby Dammit’ segment from Spirits of the Dead. Key collaborators on Casanova include, cinematographer Giuseppe Rotunno (The Leopard, The Stendhal Syndrome), screenwriter Bernardino Zapponi (Deep Red), Editor Ruggero Mastroianni (Conversation Piece) and composer Nino Rota (The Godfather). The screenplay for Fellini’s Casanova was loosely adapted from the biography of Giacomo Casanova, an 18th century writer whose main course of study was pleasure seeking.
Where other film adaptions tend to romanticize Giacomo Casanova sexual exploits and quest for all things pleasurable. Fellini’s version of Casanova depicts a more sympathetic character whose exploits often undermine his quest for pleasure. And when it comes to sexual acts in this film, they tend to focus more on the mechanical aspects of the act and because of this they are all but devoid of sensuality. Another way this film set itself apart from it contemporaries it its lack of emotion that comes forth from its characters, most notably its protagonist Casanova.
From a production stand point this film has everything anyone would want or expect from a Fellini film. And at the forefront of this mise en scène of excess is highly stylized universe that could have only come from the mind of Fellini. There are nuns, dwarves, a giant arm wrestling princess, hunchbacks and mechanical dolls. These are just a handful of the characters which populate this populate this film.
As mentioned before when it comes to the depiction of sex in this film is in anything remotely conventional. With each new sexual conquest from Casanova managing to more bizarre then the last one. With the pinnacle in regards to Casanova’s prowess coming during a scene where Casanova has been invited to a party and asked to demonstrate his endurance in front of everyone. For his competition a young man from a much lower class. Needless to say Casanova’s more methodical thrust defeats his competitors’ caveman approach to sexually intercourse.
Perhaps the most compelling aspect of this film is the casting of Donald Sutherland (MASH, Don’t Look Now) in the role of the Casanova. The film’s original producer Dino De Laurentiis reportedly wanted Robert Redford in the role of Casanova and Fellini refused to comply he left the project. To further immerse himself into the role Sutherland at the request of Fellini was asked to wear a prosthetic nose and chin and shave off the front part of his hair. Needless to say he delivers a pitch perfect performance that easily ranks among his best work as an actor. The cast features several recognizable faces like Tina Aumont (The Howl, Torso), John Karlsen (Footprints) and Reggie Nalder (The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, Mark of the Devil).
When discussing this film one must not overlook or undervalue its deliberate look. Not only in regards to its visuals which are overflowing with surrealism, but also in its emphasis on artificiality in regards to its set design. And in regards to this film’s outstanding visuals, though there are many outstanding moments visually. It is ultimately this film’s finale which serves up a perfect culmination for the events which just have unfolded.
Fellini’s Casanova comes on a 50 GB dual layer (32.2 GB) BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive widescreen. This release and a now OOP French Blu-Ray Carlotta appear to have been sourced from the same master. Details look sharp, colors look nicely saturated and vibrant, Flesh tones look healthy, black levels and shadow details look consistently strong throughout. Also grain looks natural, there are no issues with compression and DNR is kept in check.
This release comes with two audio options, a LPCM mono mix in Italian and a LPCM mono mix in English. Both audio mixes sound clean, clear balanced and robust when they need too. Range wise things sound very good, especially the score for the film which sounds appropriately robust throughout. Also included with this release are removable English subtitles.
This release comes with no extra content. There are three options on the main menu, play feature, chapter selection and setup (audio).
Overall Fellini’s Casanova gets a solid audio / video presentation from Mr. Bongo.