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Film Review

By Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat

 

The Family
Directed by Ettore Scola
Vestron Video 8/87 DVD/VHS Feature Film
PG

In The Family, Italian director Ettore Scola covers 80 years in one household in Rome. A leisurely paced drama, it hops, skips, and jumps ten or more years at a time without ever leaving the confines of the family's large apartment. Vittorio Gassman, Fanny Ardant, Philippe Noiret, and Andrea Occhipinti star.

Carlo, the narrator, is christened in the opening scene and 80 years later, the clan celebrates his birthday in a special reunion. As a brother, he spends a lifetime underestimating his younger brother. As a husband, he laments the mistake he made by not marrying Adriana, a passionate pianist. As a father, he ignores the love of his son and lavishes his affection on a chilly daughter instead. Time takes the rough edges off Carlos; he ages gracefully into a grandfather.

Ettore Scola's intricately strutured and stylized film charts the vocabulary of love in one family. Despite the changes in fashion, furniture, politics, and cultural mores, members of this Italian household carry on in their own world where blood is more important than anything else. In a poem titled "The Elder Statesman," T.S. Elliot wrote: "There's no vocabulary/For love within a family, love that's lived in/But not looked at, love within the light of which/All else is seen." The Family is about such love, and it's a remarkable work of art.

 

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Reviews and database copyright 1970 2012
by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
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