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Rocco e i suoi fratelli / Rocco and his brothers (Luchino Visconti, 1960)

A mother and her five sons move to Milan from the poor South, where the family disintegrates after the amorous encounter of the eldest Simone with the prostitute Nadia.

In this amazing film the brothers seem to stand for different moral and ambitious aspects of the post-war generation of Italian men. Simone, the oldest, has success the quickest but he is hindered by his own recklessness and his inability to understand his or other's emotions. Rocco is a romantic and nostalgic dreamer, trying to uphold his image of the family. Vincenzo is forced to marry due to pregnancy – and quickly is left out of the story after the event. Ciro stands for the ambitious, but still underachieving worker that becomes a mechanic and has something of a career.

Only the youngest, Luca, still has his paths open and I assumed that the film concludes with him
having to find his own way, trying to decide which of his brothers should be his role model.

One scene touched me more than others and I wanted to take a closer look at the mise-en-scene.
Nina who has fallen in love with Rocco has been raped by her former lover Simone. Rocco, on the other hand, has told her to go back to Simone and that they could never meet again.

The scene is set in a small apartment, where the men play poker in one room and women and couples have drinks and chat in the other. This is the first(?) encounter of Nina and Simone after the rape. Although she hates him, he kisses her and it seems at the end that they are a couple again. The viewer is left questioning Nadia's character and will power.

Simone plays Poker – he runs out of money.
Half medium shot. The room is smokey. Simone's 'friend' is bent over his shoulder – as to give him advice (which he does quite a bit)

Simone takes off his watch and gives it to the game keeper.
This is a side shot, close medium shot of Simone. His advisor/'trainer' watches his actions closely.

The gamekeeper inspects the watch and returns a couple of chips to Simone.
POV Simone onto the game keeper who sits in the dark.

This is a long pan through the next room as the 'advisor' goes to pour himself a drink.
The pan starts with a close-up of the couple, when the “advisor” comes through the curtain...

...when he leans onto the desk, he reveals Nadia, sitting on the couch behind him talking.

Nadia makes fun of Simone and flirts with the man next to her.
A jump-in on Nadia. This is a longer take on her mocking her emotions.

Simone comes through the curtain. He looks battered, possibly he lost the game.
A medium shot, the lovers on the side again.

Nadia gets up and – pulling jokes at Simone, walks past him.
The characters cross and she ends up being in the distance.
Another jump-in at the end.

Another guy comes from the other room and tries to kick out Nadia.
Back in the medium shot. The curtain is the door, that everybody walks on stage for. Interestingly, nobody, except Nadia who was already in the room says anything in this scene.

Nadia stands her ground and attacks the man and then the “advisor”
In this new angle, the camera is on the other side and pans with Nadia

Simone reacts to her offering to be with him again, not understanding the sarcasm.
A close-up on Simone. It's only a short cut, but is used to jump back on the other side of Nadia and the “advisor”

Nadia goes back to the sofa, where she continues to make fun of Simone. Simone follows her, she spits in his face.
Starts with a medium close-up but becomes a medium shot, when Nadia is at her sofa place again.

Nadia and Simone are standing very close to each other. She makes fun of him, but he kisses her. She seems to give in.
This is a short series of close-ups and reverse close-ups. When Simone forces his first kiss on her, his head hides her face completely, the second kiss to the 'other side'

The 'advisor' is content.
A quick close-up on the reaction of the voyeur. He looks quite tired and nasty in this shot.

Nadia has succumbed to Simone's advances (with catastrophic intent and consequences)
The camera dollies back and shows the two 'lovers' boxed in by the other “couples” in the room. (Lovers being the visual framing of the scene)

I find it most astonishing how Visconti makes his characters move around in the scene. Nadia seems to dance amongst them all, jumping from one character to the next. She seems to lure the dumbstruck Simone into her corner. Simone moves slow and seems struck down pretty heavily when he enters the room the first time. So, in a way the room also represents a boxing ring, but it's Nadia against Simone. She loses the match and Simone believes that he has regained control over her.

Although her purpose in this provocation is unclear at this point in the film, Visconti wanted to show with this setup that Nadia is very well aware of her actions.


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