Written by: Michael Den Boer on February 3rd, 2018
Theatrical Release Date: Italy / France, 1967
Directors: Luchino Visconti, Mauro Bolognini, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Franco Rossi, Vittorio De Sica
Writers: Mauro Bolognini, Fabio Carpi, Roberto Gianviti, Agenore Incrocci, Luigi Magni, Enzo Muzii, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Giuseppe Patroni Griffi, Franco Rossi, Furio Scarpelli, Bernardino Zapponi, Cesare Zavattini
Cast: Silvana Mangano, Marilù Tolo, Helmut Berger, Alberto Sordi, Totò, Laura Betti, Clint Eastwood
BluRay Release Date: January 8th, 2018 (UK), January 30th, 2018 (USA)
Approximate running times: 111 minutes (Italian language version), 104 minutes (English language version)
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC (Both Versions)
Rating: 15 (UK), NR (USA)
Sound: LPCM Mono Italian (Italian language version), LPCM Mono English (English language version)
Subtitles: English (Italian language version), English SDH (English language version)
BluRay Release: Arrow Academy USA
Region Encoding: Region A,B
Retail Price: $34.95 (USA) / £19.99 (UK)
The Witches is an anthology film that consists of five segments and all of these segments prominently feature Silvana Mangano. The Witches was produced by Dino De Laurentiis, whose diverse filmography includes, The Nights of Cabiria, Danger: Diabolik, Barbarella, Attraction, The Valachi Papers, Death Wish, Manhunter and Blue Velvet.
The Witches is comprised on five segments and each segment was directed by a different director. And the directors are Luchino Visconti (The Witch Burned Alive), Mauro Bolognini (Civic Sense), Pier Paolo Pasolini (The Earth as Seen from The Moon), Franco Rossi (The Sicilian Belle) and Vittorio De Sica (An Evening Like The Others).
And though, this film features a variety of distinctively different filmmakers. There was more of a cohesion, when it came to the crews working on these fives segments. Notable crew members include, cinematographer Giuseppe Rotunno (The Leopard, The Stendhal Syndrome) and composer Piero Piccioni (The 10th Victim, Camille 2000). It should be noted that Pier Paolo Pasolini’s segment The Earth as Seen from The Moon was not composed by Piero Piccioni. And that this segment was composed by the legendary Ennio Morricone.
Civic Sense: Trapped in a traffic jam, a woman poses as a good Samaritan. Desperate to get to her destination, she offers to give a gravely injured man, a ride to the hospital.
The Earth as Seen from The Moon: Shortly after mourning the lose of his wife, a father enlists the help of his son to find him a new wife. This gives them a renewed purpose that fuels their frantic search for the perfect wife. And just when they have all but given up hope of ever achieving their goal. Fate intervenes, when their paths cross with a deaf woman, who agrees to their proposition.
The Sicilian Belle: When a daughter reveals to her father that someone has impugned her reputation. He retaliates by killing the violator and all of his family members.
For many, this film’s main draw will be seeing Clint Eastwood in a role, that is in direct contrast with the persona he has created over the years. With that being said, his comedic timing in An Evening Like The Others is impeccable.
Other performances of note include, Alberto Sordi (The White Sheik, Mafioso) in the role of the gravely injured man, who is picked up by a good Sarmatian and Totò (Big Deal on Madonna Street, The Hawks and the Sparrows) in the role of the grieving widower, who searches for a new wife with his son.
The length of these five segments vary. With the shortest segments being Civic Sense and The Sicilian Belle. It should be noted, though these two segments are very brief. This does not take away from their overall impact. And nowhere is this more evident, then in regards to their use of dark humor to wrap up the events that have just unfolded.
And out of these five segments, The Earth as Seen from The Moon is by far and away the most entertaining. With the tone of this segment, being on the opposite end of the spectrum, to the much darker humor that is prevalent in the other segments. It should be noted, that the English language version omits two characters from this segment, that are featured in the Italian language version.
From a production standpoint, the narratives are well constructed and all of these segments play to their respective directors’ strengths. Ultimately, The Witches is a highly entertaining film that fans of Commedia all’italiana should thoroughly enjoy.
The Witches comes on a 50 GB dual layer BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive widescreen. The 2k transfer created for this release was sourced from a brand-new 2K restoration from original film elements produced by Arrow Films exclusively for this release. The source used for this transfer is in excellent shape, black and contrast levels are consistently strong throughout, colors and flesh tones look accurate, details look crisp, grain looks natural and there are no issues with compression.
This release comes with two version of the film and each version comes with one audio option. Both audio mixes are presented in a LPCM mono, the Italian language version comes with removable English subtitles and the English language version comes with removable English SDH subtitles. The audio options included for each versions sound, clean, clear and balanced throughout.
Extras for this release include, the English language version of the film and an audio commentary with film critic and novelist Tim Lucas.
Topics discussed in the audio commentary include, his thoughts about anthology films, background information about the opening credits, composer Piero Piccioni / the score, Ennio Morricone and how he only composed music for the segment titled The Earth as Seen from the Moon, background information about Silvana Mangano / the cast / the directors and production related topics.
Rounding out the extras is a reversible cover art and a thirty-two-page booklet with cast & crew information, an essay titled Omnibus Films, Italian Style written by Pasquale Lannone, an essay titled The Manifestation of Dreams and Desires: Commedia all’ Italiana The Witches and the Female Perspective written by Kat Ellinger and information about the restoration / the transfer.
Overall The Witches gets an excellent release from Arrow Academy, highly recommended.
Note: This film is also being released by Arrow Academy on DVD.