On the occasion of French actor Alain Delon's 80th birthday, we revisit Visconti's emotional tale of immigration, "Rocco e i suoi fratelli"
Inspired by the stories of Milanese writer/playwright Giovanni Testori, Visconti's 1960 film, "Rocco e i suoi fratelli" is the harsh story of a family from the southern Italian region of Basilicata that immigrates to the extreme northern city of Milan. The film recounts the family's misery and difficulty as Rosa, the matriarch and mother of four tries to hold her family together, ensuring the best future possible for them. However, the cold reality of life in the North makes that dream seem unattainable. The few moments of joy the family experiences are spent around the kitchen table. When Rosa breaks the bread for her four children, she is reminding them not to break the traditions and roots they have in their warm, majestic land of Lucania.
When the film was released in 1960, the first and second generations of Italian-Americans born from the turn of the century boom of immigration were growing up. Although the violence in some scenes was pretty graphic, the film was especially poignant to that first generation of immigrants who wanted to assimilate as Americans but hold on to the traditions and origins of the beloved land they were forced to leave.
A restored version done by Cineteca di Bologna was featured in the Cannes Classics program of the 2015 Cannes Film Festival with much of the cast and crew in attendance, including Claudia Cardinale. The restoration provided the opportunity for younger generations to see the work of the masters, Giuseppe Rotunno's stunning photography in particular. The film is available through Amazon on a number of formats. Here is the trailer with English subtitles..