Rocco and His Brothers (1960) – So Much Passion

Rating (4 out of 5)

First and foremost:  Do not watch the American version of Rocco and His Brothers film.  Watch the newly remastered version only!  The American version had large sections cut from the movie because Americans were uncomfortable with sections of the film.  As an example, the stabbing scene had portions cut to reduce the number times the individual was stabbed.  Rocco is one of those few films where the multiple stabbings communicate a passion between the characters, and that passion can’t be communicated with just one knife wound.   The remastered version vastly improves the picture quality over the iTunes version.

Warning:  If you watch the remastered version, they speak Italian and reading subtitles is needed.

I was extremely delighted I had the opportunity to view the remastered version of Rocco and His Brothers on the big screen.  There are some phenomenal scenes in the movie and some dialog I want to type out and tack to the wall.  If the remaster  plays in your city; I would make the time to go screen this great film.


Plot:  Rocco (Alain Delon), his 3 brothers, and mother move from the south of Italy where they worked the fields.  They have traveled north to live in Milan.  Penniless they struggle to make ends meet in Italy and Rocco and his brother Simone (Renato Salvatori) both fall in love with Nadia (Annie Girardot).

What I Liked: Rocco takes on the great tragedies of the Greeks and Shakespeare.  The vicious yet passionate stabbings, brothers senselessly beat on one another, a prostitute finds love and the right path only to be raped; these are just a few elements that combine to tragedy of Rocco and His Brothers.  Rocco becomes your favorite soap opera wrapped in an Italian movie.


The director sets up the characteristics of each brother starting from the introductory scenes.  The movie introduces Simone as stubbornly lazy, and the film emphasizes his laziness over a number of scenes.  As each brother faces a challenge, they address the challenges based on their characteristics, which leads too much of the tragedy.

The movie has four segments, one for each brother plus the introduction.  The brother segment, which are sequential, show the events from the point of view of that brother for that timeline.  Breaking the movie into segments helped build the characters and build the structure for the ultimate tragedy.

A couple of scenes and themes really stuck out to me.  I wanted to hit pause on the  about faith in the world and better tomorrow so I could talk with my son.  The theme of the tension between the big city versus the farm lands, was layered through the movie by multiple characters.  The  movie discusses the different view points but does not align favor of either.  These scenes/themes are the ones you want to show a group and then have a lively old fashioned debate.  The rape and killing scenes do linger in your mind and are visually stunning scenes.


What I Didn’t Like: The actors can act overly theatrical as was common in motion pictures of the day.  The melodrama distracts the audience and reduces the power of the scene.  A young lady sitting next to me laughed at the theatrics.

There were a few places where small portions could have been removed to produce a shorter film but equally as enjoyable film.

Conclusion: I viewed the movie last week, yet some of the scenes have lingered with me.  I have contemplated the ideas, such as faith and family since the screening.  This lingering/contemplation is a mark of an excellent movie.  I enjoyed Rocco and His Brothers immensely and would recommend Rocco to any lover of the cinema.  Rocco is not for those who are expecting a straightforward film.