Posted: 07/26/2011

 

The Anger

(1963)

by Jef Burnham



Now available on DVD from Rarovideo U.S.


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The Anger (La Rabbia) is an endlessly thought-provoking cinematic experiment in which two Italian filmmakers from opposite ends of the political spectrum attempted to answer the same question: why is the modern world characterized by rampant discontent? The filmmakers in question are Pier Paolo Pasolini (Mamma Roma) for the left-wing and journalist/screenwriter Giovanni Guareschi for the right. While there is a wealth of fascinating commentary on the modern world in The Anger, what I found most interesting is that Pasolini and Guareschi’s analyses of the modern world are ultimately not so markedly different as you’d expect.

The film is divided into two completely separate parts, Pasolini’s being the first and Guareschi’s the second. Both filmmakers approach the topic in a similar poetic fashion, utilizing “found footage” from around the world and constant voice-over narration supplied by the filmmakers themselves in order to explicate the plight of modern man in terms of both its causes and effects. Ultimately, the film is bloated with ideas too numerous to take in in a single viewing. While many of the filmmakers’ beliefs are radically incompatible— for instance, Pasolini would have it that all men were indeed equal in an idealistic socialist sense, whereas Guareschi asserts that Africans are fundamentally incapable of governing themselves and should have remained under forcible European rule— they do agree on one major item. The cause of the world’s discontent it seems, according to both men, is society’s abandonment of classical values in favor of a frantic, capitalist system where the individual, the family, and the community alike are disastrously undervalued.

Somewhat unsurprisingly given its overtly political (anti-industrialist) content, this documentary has never before been released in the U.S. Fortunately, Rarovideo’s wonderful release of the film softens the blow of the wait. Their digital restoration of the film from the original 35mm negative, with new and improved English subtitles, is spectacular. However, it should be noted that, since the majority of the film is composed of found, archival footage, the quality of the image necessarily fluctuates due the varied states of the film stocks obtained by the filmmakers in the production of the film. But there is still a fair amount of noticeably pristine footage present in this release to evidence that Rarovideo was by no means lax in the restoration.

The special features on this release include:
-La Rabbia I, La Rabbia II, La Rabbia III… L’Arabia, an in-depth documentary by Tatti Sanguinetti about the origins of The Anger;
-“Le Mura di Sana’a,” a 16-minute short film by Pasolini;
and
-An insightful 23-page booklet director’s comments and biographies, political cartoons, and various short, critical analyses of the film.

Jef Burnham is a writer and educator living in Chicago, Illinois. While waging war on mankind from a glass booth in the parking lot of a grocery store, Jef managed to earn a degree in Film & Video from Columbia College Chicago, and is now the Editor-in-Chief of FilmMonthly.com.



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