Written by: Michael Den Boer on August 14th, 2006
Theatrical Release Dates: Italy, 1970
Director: Francesco Maselli
Writer: Francesco Maselli
Cast: Tanya Lopert, Monica Strebel, Nanny Loy, Lorenza Guerrieri, Graziella Galvani
DVD released: July 25th, 2006
Approximate running time: 121 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1 Full Frame
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono
DVD Release: No Shame
Region Coding: Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: $29.95
A group of radicals with in the Italian communist party decides to send a letter to a prominent news paper. In the letter they declare their intentions to help the Vietnamese fight the American soldiers who occupy Vietnam. Are these revolutionaries ready to give their lives to make a political statement?
The films of Francesco Maselli are not that easy to digest as they operate on a more cerebral level then most films. They often lack even the basic cinematic story telling structure as Francesco Maselli literally invents a format and style that is uniquely all his own. His camera is often moving and at times his framing is not centered. His rapid fire editing doesn’t allow the viewer to digest what t hey are seeing fort hat look before something else is quickly thrown at them. Visually is where Open Letter to the Evening News succeeds the most as Francesco Maselli’s direction is more about capturing what is going on and not creating performances. The film is heavy in verbiage and a lot of things happen over the course of two hours. The story is broken up in several different side stories which are inhabited by complex characters.
Open Letter to the Evening News was a daring film when it made nearly thirty film years ago as it asked questions many political parties did not want to be asked. Just like the characters in the film we all put are trust into a system believing that it works because we are told that its works. At times the human race can become complacent and then we loose the will to challenge the status quo who continues to remain in control as long as we turn a blind eye and never question their motives. When looking at the film today many of its themes still plague the world we live in even if communism has lost its relevance long ago.
Ultimately Open Letter to the Evening News is political satire whose message is more relevant now then when it was made nearly thirty five years ago.
Open Letter to the Evening News is presented in its original 1.33:1 full frame aspect ratio. This transfer has been sourced from the original 16mm vault negatives. The image looks grainy through out and from time to the image looks overly bright. This is according to a disclaimer that precedes the film apparently how the director and director of photography wanted this film to look so No Shame have done as they wished. Colors and flesh tones look faithful with details looking reasonable sharp for the majority of the film. Outside of some minor nicks and a scratch or two the transfer looks pretty good considering the origins of its materials.
This release comes with one audio option the films original Italian language track which is presented here in a Dolby Digital mono. There are some minor instances of hiss outside of this there are other noticeable sound defects. Dialog is easy enough to hear and follow despite its mono limitations. Removable English subtitles have been included that are easy to read and follow.
Extras for this release are spread over two DVD’s.
Extras for the first DVD include an intro for Open Letter to the Evening News with director Francesco Maselli. Also include for this release is a four minute segment which starts with comments from Francesco Maselli about the films photography and stills of photos from the film. Other extras include a thirteen minute interview with Francesco Maselli and Walter Veltroni (Mayor of Rome) titled “On the Eve of Revolution”. The two men discuss the history of the Italian communist party. Rounding out the extras for disc one is a seventeen minute interview with Francesco Maselli titled “Open Letter from a Comrade”. Francesco Maselli discusses various camera techniques and the difficulties making Open Letter to the Evening News.
Extras for the second DVD include a ten minute interview with Francesco Maselli titled “The Eye Witness”. Francesco Maselli discusses making the film Fragments of the Twentieth Century. Other extras include an intro for Fragments of the Twentieth Century with director Francesco Maselli. Rounding out the extras is a bonus feature documentary titled “Fragments of the Twentieth Century”. Francesco Maselli discusses communism, working with Luchino Visconti, post war Italy, his love for cinema and so much more.
No Shame has also included with this release a collectable booklet which includes a bio for Francesco Maselli. The booklet also comes with two text pieces about Francesco Maselli written by Michelangelo Antonioni and Italo Calvino.
Fans of the cinema of Francesco Maselli can now celebrate with No Shame’s fully loaded DVD release for Open Letter to the Evening News which also comes with the Francesco Maselli documentary Fragments of the Twentieth Century.
For more information about Open Letter to the Evening News visit No Shame here.