'The Films of Gillo Pontecorvo'

It was after seeing Rossellini's Paisanthat Gillo Pontecorvo decided on a career in filmmaking and Rossellinian neorealism is evident in both his breakthrough film, Kapo(1959), and his most celebrated work, The Battle of Algiers(1966). Much of Kaporings harrowingly true— a young Parisian Jewish girl, sent to a concentration camp, passes for gentile and becomes a collaborator of the Nazis— but the finale nosedives into kitsch when love and redemption bloom with the arrival of a hunky Russian soldier. A tremendous step forward, The Battle of Algiersis the most extraordinary film about a revolution since classic Soviet cinema. Pontecorvo marshals the images with masterly economy, achieving a detailed documentary effect without using any newsreel footage. The underrated period epic Burn(1969) is also concerned with revolution in a colonial setting, in this case, a Caribbean island. As its central character, a Machiavellian English agent provocateur, Marlon Brando gave one of the most outlandish and intelligent performances of his career. But, caveat emptor, the Reade is showing the Italian-language version, in which the actor has been dubbed with a flat and characterless voice.

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