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Un borghese piccolo piccolo

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Un borghese piccolo piccolo, a motion picture gem of Italian cinema, was directed by Mario Monicelli and premiered in 1977. The film features an ensemble of star-studded performances by Alberto Sordi, Shelley Winters, and Vincenzo Crocitti. At the very heart of this film lies an intricate narrative that explores human nature, personal ambitions, and societal constructs in a profoundly nuanced manner.

The film spins its narrative around the lead character Giovanni Vivaldi, deftly played by the legendary Alberto Sordi. Giovanni is painted as an everyday middle-aged man who aspires for a steady growth in his career as a public servant. His simplistic lifestyle, mundane job, and harrowing economic circumstances make him an extremely relatable character for the contemporary Italian middle class of the 70s.

Alberto Sordi is unreservedly enchanting in his role, fully embodying the spirit of a man yearning for timeless values such as dignity and respect while he navigates his life through an unjust system. His portrayal of Vivaldi’s quiet resilience and desperation encapsulates a poignant realism, setting the tone of the film in an empathetically universal context.

Shelley Winters portrays the role of Vivaldi's wife, Amelia, who symbolizes the soul of the Italian middle class. Even as she struggles with grinding poverty, she remains firmly grounded in her nurturing role as a wife and mother. Her character is a testament to the strength of women of her time, balancing her hopes and dreams with the unescapable reality of her socioeconomic disposition. Quite brilliantly, Winters fills Amelia with an unwavering sense of courage and resolve, beautifully contrasting Vivaldi's journey into the dark bowels of bureaucracy.

Vincenzo Crocitti plays Vivaldi’s son Mario. Young, hopeful and hardworking, Mario is a personification of the aspirational younger generation. Mario’s character adds an extra layer to the narrative, propelling the story into many challenging situations which the family must confront together. Crocitti’s portrayal of a son caught in the trappings of the bureaucratic system and his father’s dreams is commendable.

The film's plot is further enriched by the director’s deeper dive into two parallel worlds - one reflecting the enduring struggles of a middle-class family, and the other revealing the inner workings of a bureaucratic system weighted down by corruption. The push and pull between these worlds forms the backbone of the narrative, creating an oscillating rhythm of adversity and hope.

From the larger perspective, Un borghese piccolo piccolo offers an unflinching critique of the Italian bureaucratic system during the 1970s, highlighting its paralyzing bureaucracy, rampant corruption, and amoral politics. On a micro level, it peels off the layers of human virtues and vices, presenting a rich character study of a middle-class man, his dreams, and the darkness he wrestles with in the pursuit of survival and dignity.

Monicelli’s direction is marked by a deft blend of humour, poignancy, and a strong critical voice. The quirky irony and dark undertones of the narrative are often lightened by a sheen of humour, which is masterfully inserted throughout the film. The cinematography by Carlo Di Palma creates a realistic backdrop for the story, highlighting the stark contrasts between the flamboyant world of the bureaucrats and the austere lives of the protagonist family.

The film's soundtrack composed by Piero Piccioni lends a rhythmic undertone to the story, infusing it with an intensity that heightens the viewer’s emotional engagement. The well-penned dialogues further help in deeply humanizing the characters, lending the narrative a visceral appeal.

In a nutshell, Un borghese piccolo piccolo is a cinematic experience steeped in realism that stimulates thought and encourages introspection on issues such as morality, societal norms, and the human struggle for dignity. Despite being deeply rooted in the Italian societal fabric of the 70s, the film's undercurrents are global and timeless. Through its complex characters, gripping narrative, and stirring performances, the film manages to hold a mirror to society, forcing its audience to grapple with the uncomfortable truths and sympathize with the protagonist’s turmoil. This film is indeed a testament to the art of storytelling, and still stands as a classic in Italian Cinema, four decades after its release.

Un borghese piccolo piccolo is a Comedy, Drama movie released in 1977. It has a runtime of 118 Min. Critics and viewers have rated it moderate reviews, with an IMDb score of 7.8..

Mario Monicelli
Alberto Sordi, Shelley Winters, Romolo Valli, Vincenzo Crocitti
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