(27-07-2014, Mrs. Mokum) There are numerous prejudices about Italy: tasty food, questionable politics, beautiful landscapes and horrible English skills. Being me I’ll add my own: crafty films. After having seen Ladri di Biciclette (1948, Vittorio De Sica) I’ve been sold. I know I can’t say all Italian films are good. But just as Spanish films have this colourful, warm atmosphere in their films I can say that Italian films have this raw, sepia-ish, humorous feel to them. Una Via A Palermo (2013, Emma Dante) is a film that shows the event of two cars stuck in a small side street in Sicily. One of them has to drive backward in order to solve the problem. Due to the stubbornness of the characters, none of them gives in, resulting in a war-like situation. One of my favorite subject in film theory and film analysis is the notion of realism. I’ll spare you the philosophical details and will give you a short recap of my own view on film realism. As photography has literally made photorealism, and technology has become more than sufficient enough to provide crisp-clear shots, realism does not necessarily mean that a film or photo is realistic.*HD might show more details, and therefore be more photorealistic, but it can be quite the buzzkill to see every single clogged pore and untrimmed nose hair of the actor. In order to maintain a certain realism, filmmakers have meticulously perfected their art so that what’s seen or heard in a shot equals the atmosphere/mood/reality of the film world. In my perception, realism is the way in which an emotional response is evoked. Usage of colour, lighting, acting, composition, sound, and decor all add up to this emotional response. Therefore, in order for a film to be realistic for me, it has to create just the right balance in these aspects. A sad melody that supports the heartbreaking moment does not necessarily strengthen its impact, whereas a silence might have had a much stronger effect. Considering my view on realism, I will hereby provide a quick analysis of Una Via A Palermo. Camera movement and editing One of the most striking elements in the film was its use of different camera techniques. There were numerous handheld shots which were extremely shaky and unfocused, combined with long takes that could take minutes where no camera movement was to be seen. These shots would be balanced in such a way that it would empower the emotional effect of the event in the film. For example, during moments of chaos shots would be handheld and edited in a rapid pace. Moments of tension would show long takes, extreme close-ups and slow camera movements. Colour Sicily’s landscape, the people, the atmosphere, and heat; all elements which deserve a colour palette that strengthens these aspects. The film did a proper job ‘painting with light’. There was a correct usage of sepia’s, natural lighting and hard, chemical light to support the harshness, or stubbornness of the characters in the film. Characters and story What a great view on human deficiency this film provides. When emotion-fueled pride takes over any sort of rationality all hell breaks loose. The very fact that none of the drivers gives in until the bitter end sounded unrealistic to me when I heard about the plot of the film. After having seen it, I can only say that the characters have been developed in such a way that it feels completely natural. Samira was a very radiant character who evoked such mixed feelings that I can only feel a little sadness there wasn’t more screen time with her. Rosa, the other driver, was not sympathetic at all. This left me very excited since I love it when major characters in a film are not ‘perfect’, but warped and human. Due to the small amount of backstory provided in the film, there seems to be a weird balance between the past and the now. The tension between Rosa and Samira seem to have deep roots in the past. But because such little screen time has been spent in explaining the situation, one can say that the film illustrates the destructive force the past can have on the present. And that this effect is highly unnecessary. Lastly, I want to highlight the last scene of the film. A very long take with almost no camera movement. Unconventional, powerful and gripping.
Link to original article: http://www.mrsmokum.com/italian-realism-una-via-a-palermo-reviewed/