Tuesday, January 28, 2014

I, Cannibali (The Year Of The Cannibals) (Blu-Ray Review) - Raro Video

Directed By: Liliana Cavani
Written By: Liliana Cavani, Italo Moscati
Starring: Britt Ekland, Pierre Clementi, Tomas Milian
Color/87 Minutes/Not Rated
Region A

The Film 
After viewing THE YEAR OF THE CANNIBALS (original Italian title I, CANNIBALI) I looked it up online. Prior to receiving the disc I had known nothing about it and part of me thought it would be a jungle horror film. Reading the back cover quickly dispelled my assumptions. When I went to look more into the film after finishing my viewing I was surprised to find how mixed the reviews on this film were. All films will have their detractors, even the most widely loved masterpiece will have a few people that vehemently deny its quality. Now, THE YEAR OF THE CANNIBALS isn't a masterpiece, but I did find it to be quite good, so the mixed reviews caught me a bit off guard.

The streets of the city are littered with corpses. Both male and female, young and old. These dead bodies are to be left alone by order of the Fascist government. They're a warning to anyone that may want to rise up against the repressive government. As the rain pours down on the bodies and the population walks around, stepping over and on the bodies, Antigone, a pretty redhead, sees her brother's body outside of a cafe and decides that is not where he will lay to rest. With the help of a quiet man named Tiresia who speaks an unknown language they begin to clean the streets starting with Antigone's brother and moving on to others, taking each to a cave by the beach leaving offerings of bread and fish. It doesn't take long for the powers-that-be to catch wind of this breach of conduct and throw Antigone into a sanitarium, until she escapes and finds Tiresia in the streets, along with an entire battalion of military men.

From the shockingly heartless opening scene, to the poignant and unfortunately still relevant worldwide message, THE YEAR OF THE CANNIBALS strikes a chord deep within. One that forces the viewer to watch, and not only see what is going on but to take note and truly witness the atrocities that lay at their feet because of an out of control leadership. From the priest blessing the corpses while walking in front of a street cleaner that is washing the filth that a rotting body will leave, to the scene in a sauna that shows a small child in total control of military men, this film is chock full of powerful imagery. The performances from our leads Britt Ekland (The Wicker Man) and Pierre Clementi (Belle Du Jour) to the supporting role for Tomas Milian (Almost Human) are strong and help carry the film. We sympathize and root for Ekland and Clementi, putting us into a  similar role of Milian's character. The cinematography has the entire cityscape under a slightly greyish blue hue which plays perfectly with the constant overcast and rainy weather of the film. Ennio Morricone's score is quite good and I have to say the main theme song is, contrary to what I read in some negative reviews of the film, far from belonging in a spaghetti western film. It fits the period and feeling of THE YEAR OF THE CANNIBALS quite well in my opinion.

Made during a time of great unrest in Italy, THE YEAR OF THE CANNIBALS remains relevant on a global scale. The themes and messages in the film ring true day after day and the message that a powerful voice can't be silenced even in death if their message is true is one that will hopefully overthrow tyrannical leaders that still run rampant.

The Audio & Video
Raro Video gives THE YEAR OF THE CANNIBALS an anamorphic widescreen 2.35:1 full 1080p HD transfer that looks nice. The stark look to the photography of the film limits how sparkly the film looks but detail levels are strong and there is no DNR or edge enhancement. This transfer has a nice film like look to it. The Italian audio track features newly translated subtitles and sounds good. There's no background noise to speak of and the track is well mixed. Morricone's score and the dialogue compliment each other nicely. 

The Extras
Extra features include:

-Video interview with director Liliana Cavani that clocks in at over 26 minutes
-Original Theatrical Trailer
-Fully illustrated 12 page booklet

The Bottom Line
THE YEAR OF THE CANNIBALS is well worth checking out as it is not just a film filled with memorable images and scenes but is a film with a purpose.


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