Written by: Michael Den Boer on May 23rd, 2006
Theatrical Release Date: Italy, 1959 (Violent Summer), Italy, 1961 (Girl with a Suitcase)
Director: Valerio Zurlini
Cast: Eleonora Rossi Drago, Jean-Louis Trintignant, Jacqueline Sassard, Cathia Caro, Lilla Brignone (Violent Summer), Claudia Cardinale, Jacques Perrin, Corrado Pani, Gian Maria Volontè, Romolo Valli (Girl with a Suitcase)
DVD Released: May 30th, 2006
Approximate Running Time: 97 minutes (Violent Summer), 121 minutes (Girl with a Suitcase)
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1 full frame aspect ratio (Violent Summer), 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen (Girl with a Suitcase)
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono Italian
DVD Release: No Shame
Region Coding: Region 0 NTSC
Retail Price: $29.95
Violent Summer: A chance encounter brings Carlo Caremoli (Jean-Louis Trintignant) and Roberta (Eleonora Rossi Drago) together when a German plane flies over the beach they are at one day and scares everyone. Roberta’s daughter frightened by the incident finds comfort with Carlo who agrees to walk both of them home. Roberta is a navy officer’s widow and Carlo is the son of a prominent leader in the fascist party. The two come form completely different worlds; still there is an undeniable attraction that neither can ignore. Can their love overcome the war rages on all around them or will their secret love affair ultimately drive them apart?
The performances in Violent Summer are all outstanding with Jean-Louis Trintignant in one of his first films giving a solid performance as Carlo. There is something real about the way he approaches the character which allows the viewers’ to identify with his the dilemma’s he faces. Eleonora Rossi Drago is perfect casting as the widow as she oozes with sexuality. Jacqueline Sassard is delightfully wicked as Carlo’s friend who desperately wants his affection. The story is nearly flawless as there really is no slow or dull moments. Valerio Zurlini’s direction is simple amazing especially the film finale where a train yard is bombed by airplanes. Zurlini has a way of capturing mood through his compositions and editing and Violent Summer foreshadows many of his later films. Violent Summer is a haunting beautiful tail about finding love and eventually losing what is most cherished in the end.
The Girl with a Suitcase: Lorenzo’s older brother Marcello is a playboy who has broke the heart of a cabaret singer named Aida (Claudia Cardinale). When she shows up one evening at their home Marcello unable to handle his own dirty business sends Lorenzo (Jacques Perrin) out to get rid of her. Lorenzo fails in love Aida the moment he lays he eyes upon her. Feeling guilty about the way his brother treated her he does his best to help her out.
Valerio Zurlini returns to familiar territory with The Girl with a Suitcase a film like its predecessor Violent Summer is about an older women falling in love with a younger man. This time around the age gap is even larger as the male character Lorenzo involved in this love triangle is only sixteen. Aida the object of Lorenzo’s affection is a victim who ultimately victimizes Lorenzo. She is willing to take all of gifts even though she knows that she shouldn’t. She also continues to play with his heart long after she discovers he is in love with her. Like a viscous cycle she has now taken over for her abuser Marcello.
Valerio Zurlini ability to capture the essence of a scene is never more apparent then the train scene in which Lorenzo stalks Aida and her male companion. The scene flows effortlessly and it is only appropriate that when they are having lunch that the glass window between them and Lorenzo keeps their discussion private. Claudia Cardinale has worked with some of Italy’s greatest director’s Fellini and Leone. These directors like Zurlini always manage to get great performances out of her despite her limited acting range. A very young looking Jacques Perrin is Lorenzo in the film and his introspective performance is captivating. Gian Maria Volontè has a brief role as Aida’s boyfriend at the train station. The Girl with a Suitcase is a heartbreaking film about hurting the ones you love the most.
Overall Valerio Zurlini creates two masterpieces that are equally as impressive as his most accomplished film The Desert of the Tartars.
Violent Summer is presented in its original 1.33:1 aspect ratio. The contrast levels are exceptional with an amazing amount of shadow detail. Grain is kept to a minimum and there are no problems with artifacts or compression. This release is flagged for progressive scan and the image remains stable through out. No Shame have done an phenomenal job with this transfer which is one of the best looking black and white transfers that I have ever seen to date.
The Girl with the Suitcase is presented in an anamorphic widescreen that preserves the films original 1.85:1 aspect ratio. The black levels are rich and details look sharp in the back ground and fore ground. Grain is kept to a minimum and there are no problems with artifacts or compression. This release is flagged for progressive scan and the image remains stable through out. The source material used for this transfer is in great shape as the final product looks flawless.
Violent Summer comes with one audio option a Dolby Digital mono audio track which is in Italian. There are no problems with hiss or any other audio defects. Audio sounds full and it is evenly balanced with no instances of distortion. For a film that is forty seven years old this audio mix sounds pretty damn good. Removable English subtitles have been included for this release.
The Girl with the Suitcase comes with two audio options the films original Italian language track and an English dubbed audio track. Both are presented in a Dolby Digital mono. Both audio mixes are free of any sound defects and dialog, music and effects sound evenly balanced. The English dubbed mix has portions of audio in Italian and this is most likely because these scenes were never recorded in English. Unfortunately you have to turn the subtitles on when these scenes appear while listening to English audio mix. Too bad No Shame didn’t include forced subs during these scenes during the English mix. Removable English and French subtitles have been included for this release.
Extras for Violent Summer include the films original Italian trailer with English subtitles and a brief poster & still gallery. The remaining extras for Violent Summer consist of four interviews Florestano Vancini (assistant director), Ricardo Pazzaglia (lyricist), Giuliano Monatldo (director) and Eleonora Giorgi (actress). These four interviews give a nice overview of working with and who director Valerio Zurlini was.
Extras for The Girl with the Suitcase include the films original Italian trailer with English subtitles and a brief poster & still gallery. Other extras include restoration demonstration in which No Shame compares their transfer verse the previous U.S. release transfer. The remaining extras for Violent Summer consist of four interviews Piero Schivazappa (assistant director), Piero De Barnardi (screenwriter), Bruno Torri (film critic) and Mario Gallo (producer). These interviews like the ones include for Violent Summer are in a similar vein as all the participants’ discuss their experiences with Valerio Zurlini. The most interesting interview is with Bruno Torri who as a film critic gives a different perspective then the other interviewers about the films of Valerio Zurlini.
No Shame has also included with this release a collectable booklet which includes bios for Valerio Zurlini, Mario Serandrei, Mario Nascimbene, Jean-Louis Trintignant, Claudia Cardinale and Jacques Perrin. The booklet also includes a text piece about Valerio Zurlini.
Valerio Zurlini is a filmmaker whose films have been neglected for far too long. No Shame’s Valerio Zurlini box set is a breathtaking tribute to Zurlini and his extraordinary body of work, highly recommended.