What You Did Not Tell: A Russian Past and the Journey Home” by Mark Mazower— A Family

Mazower, Mark. “What You Did Not Tell: A Russian Past and the Journey Home”, Other Press, 2018.

A Family

Amos Lassen

Mark Mazower shares the sacrifices and silences that marked a generation and their descendants. Here is a family that fate drove into the siege of Stalingrad, the Vilna ghetto, occupied Paris, and even into the ranks of the Wehrmacht. Markower’s British father was the lucky one, the son of Russian-Jewish emigrants who settled in London after escaping the Bolsheviks, civil war, and revolution. Max, his grandfather had been a socialist and manned the barricades against Tsarist troops, never speaking a word about it afterwards. His wife Frouma came from a family that had been “ravaged by the Terror yet making their way in Soviet society despite it all.” 

Here is the history of a socialism that has since been erased from memory and this is also “an exploration of the unexpected happiness that may await history’s losers, of the power of friendship and the love of place that made his father at home in an England that no longer exists.”

Mark Mazower’ writes about his grandfather’s secret life. It was secret only in that he didn’t share it with anyone in the family. Max lived through revolutions and world wars, survived due to his resourcefulness, timing, good luck, and connections. It’s an interesting, but hardly notable story, because it’s one that was shared by so many other refugees. To his grandson, this is a thrilling tale of discovery about a man who died before he was even born. This is a family history that also gives an overview of the political unrest that influenced both people and politics during the first half of the last century. The book covers the history of Eastern European Jews in Russia, Ukraine and Lithuania, beginning in the 1880s and traveling through the better part of the next century and beyond. The story is told from the point of view of the author’s father, Bill and his grandfather, Max.

After his father Yowl died, Max Mazower’s mother moved him and his two brothers to Vilna which was then an economic and intellectual center in Europe and known as the Jerusalem of Lithuania. Max changed his name, first to Marcus and then to Max. He and his two brothers quickly found work. The young men all joined the Bund and its influence grew with the Tsarist pogroms.

By 1902 the Bund had already attracted Tsarist spies and its members had suffered numerous arrests; Max was arrested and sentenced to three years in Siberia from where he escaped in July 1902, and then worked only under cover wherever the Bund wanted to organize.

In early 1907, Max was again sent to Siberia, this time to live with a peasant family near Tomsk. He befriended a local policeman and with regular chess games convinced the officer to let him register not daily, as required, but alternative days and then, once weekly. After one chess game, Max rode a train to Tomsk and kept on through Moscow to Vilna; nearly apprehended a third time, he moved to London. Max ended his political activism but he maintained contacts with the Bundists, Mencheviks and other socialists. Through one old friend, he met his wife Frouma in about 1922, while selling for a steel company and married her in December 1923.

Author Mazower reconstructed facts from once-sealed Soviet archives, family letters, diaries, interviews with remaining friends and neighbors, and gives us a wonderful read. He pieces together the complex and fascinating story of his father’s apparent half-brother Andre Mazower Krylenko, including all the ugly factors that by 1965 had morphed him into a rabid anti-Semite. He never concludes exactly what happened to Andre, or when, since few details are available.

There were Bundists who were “critics of Israel” and there were many who became ardent Zionists. These included David Ben Gurion who was a socialist at the outset. Like Ben Gurion, many former Bundist Zionists cherished Israel—and the need for a homeland for the Jewish people—due not only to events in Europe but also to the massive but barely recalled historic evils suffered by Jews in Muslim lands.

This is a book filled with memory and secrets. At the center of it is scholarly reconstruction of a family’s life and relations, friends, acquaintances, places, houses and adventures that were part of it it. Not only is this a biographical narrative; it is also a look at leftwing European Jewry throughout the 20th century. We see what historical research can yield, if there is determination, skill and boundless curiosity to pursue it. Here is also a family whose members Mazower got to know, love and respect. This is also “an inquiry into the importance of roots and the psychic contentment that comes with belonging.” 

 After discovering his grandfather’s work as an agent for the Jewish socialist Bund, Mazower, explores the efforts people later took to hide their involvement in the revolution. While this is the story of his grandfather, Mazower reconstructs the history of this largely forgotten Jewish socialist group that “was instrumental to the revolution’s success.”

“Hitler, Stalin and I: An Oral History” by Heda Margolius Kovaly— A Historical Memoir

Kovaly, Heda Margolius. “Hitler, Stalin and I: An Oral History”,DoppelHouse Press, 2018.

A Historical Memoir

Amos Lassen

 Heda Margolius Kovály (1919-2010) was a famed Czech writer and translator. Her bestselling memoir, Under a Cruel Star: A Life in Prague, 1941-1968 has been translated into more than a dozen languages and the crime novel she wrote “Innocence; or, Murder on Steep Street’ is based on her own experiences living under the oppressed regime of Stalin and was named an NPR Best Book in 2015.

“Hitler, Stalin and I” is based on interviews between Kovály and award-winning filmmaker Helena Treštíková. We read about Kovály’s family history in Czechoslovakia, the deprivations of Lodz Ghetto and how she miraculously left Auschwitz, fleeing from a death march. She was unable to find sanctuary amongst former friends in Prague as a concentration camp escapee, and participated in the liberation of Prague. Later under Communist rule, she was isolated socially and considered a pariah after her first husband Rudolf Margolius was unjustly accused of and executed for treason. After the Warsaw Pact invasion in 1968, she was exiled to America but still had love for her country and continued to believe in its people. She returned to Prague in 1996.

Kovaly expressed herself beautifully and maintained composure, even after she had such extremely difficult experiences. Nazism and Communism greatly affected her life but she always remained optimistic.

January 2018 is the 50th anniversary of the uprising that ended Soviet Union power post-WWII in Czechoslovakia and became known as the Prague Spring. November 2017 marked the 65 years after the infamous Stalin-influenced Slánský Trial that was intended to antagonize and execute Jewish leaders of the Communist Party in what was then Czechoslovakia. Kovaly was witness to both of these events. Her new oral history looks at persecutions that were rooted in strong political rhetoric of exclusion. Her husband Rudolf Margolius was unjustly accused of partaking in a Jewish conspiracy to undermine the ruling Communist Party in the infamous Slánský Trial and executed. Though Margolius and the other defendants who were executed in the trial were posthumously exonerated, subsequent democratically elected governments have never released a formal apology or official declaration of innocence for the men, demonstrating a common reluctance to see the misuse of power.

Despite being isolated socially for her husband’s harrowing fate and exiled in the United States after the Warsaw Pact invasion in 1968, Kovály remained an optimist. I know there is a bit of reluctance to read stories like this since we have been so filled with them but this is unique in that it is written by a woman and is a different slant on the Holocaust.

There is a wealth of information here about the Holocaust and crimes committed by Czechoslovakia’s communist regime and we also get a look at Czechoslovakia’s First Republic.

Kovaly’s story is engrossing, immediate and real. Kovaly speaks from within, from her soul and pulls us into her life. I actually read the book in one sitting because I did not feel I could or wanted to stop. Prepare yourselves for an emotional read.

“All-American Murder: The Rise and Fall of Aaron Hernandez, the Superstar Whose Life Ended on Murderers’ Row” by James Patterson, Alex Abramovich and Mark Harvkey— Hernandez in Life and Death

Patterson, James with Alex Abramovich and Mike Harvkey. “All-American Murder: The Rise and Fall of Aaron Hernandez, the Superstar Whose Life Ended on Murderers’ Row”, Little, Brown and Company, 2018.

Hernandez in Life and Death

Amos Lassen

James Patterson is known as the author of the Alex Cross series and other thrillers novels has now written a book about Aaron Hernandez, the NFL-star-turned-convicted-killer who committed suicide in his jail cell last year and sparked bisexual rumors for allegedly leaving a note for his gay jailhouse lover.

Patterson has co-written “All American Murder” with Alex Abramovich and Mike Harvkey. Patterson says he felt “compelled” to write about Hernanadez because of his “fascinating, complicated, and troubling” story. He saw Hernandez as a gifted man, “His good looks, the smile, the beautiful fiancée, the baby girl, the $40 million NFL contract.”

Patterson is skeptical about Hernandez having had a gay jailhouse lover yet he’s not 100% sure. “We never talked to anybody who said there was something to that,” he said. “He was in his cell 22½ hours a day. He had virtually no contact with any prisoners. What could he do?” He does state that Hernandez experienced a jailhouse conversion and wrote “John 3:16” in blood on his jail cell wall. “He was clinging to this notion, real or imagined, that if he believed in Jesus he could be saved. But he was over the top with everything. His thinking was scrambled big-time.”

After his death, Hernandez was diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a degenerative brain disease that results from frequent blows to the head and can cause depression and violent mood swings. Patterson maintains that this could have had something to do with he murders.

“Football coaches, players, and fans called Aaron Hernandez unstoppable. His four-year-old daughter called him Daddy. The law called him inmate #174594.” Hernandez was a college All-American who became the youngest player in the NFL and later a Super Bowl veteran. He was a star tight end on the league-dominant New England Patriots with a contract for $40 million. His every move as a professional athlete played out in the headlines, yet he led a secret life-one that ended in a maximum-security prison. Something drove him to go so wrong.

He was the son of a University of Connecticut football hero known as “the King” and brother to a Huskies quarterback. Hernandez was the best athlete Connecticut’s Bristol Central High had ever produced. He chose to play football at the University of Florida, but by the time he arrived in Gainesville, he was already dealing with trouble.

Already between the summers of 2012 and 2013, not long after Hernandez made his first Pro Bowl, he was linked to a series of violent incidents culminating in the death of Odin Lloyd, a semi-pro football player who dated the sister of Hernandez’s fiancée, Shayanna Jenkins.

This is the first book to investigate Aaron Hernandez’s first-degree murder conviction and the mystery of his own untimely and shocking death. It draws on original and in-depth reporting and is an explosive true story of a life cut short.

“THE SUNSHINE MAKERS”— Nicholas and Tim

“The Sunshine Makers”

Nicolas and Tim

Amos Lassen

“The Sunshine Makers” is the untold story of two men who were at the heart of 1960s American drug counterculture. They were on a utopian mission to save the planet through the consciousness-raising power of LSD and manufactured a massive amount of acid, including the gold standard for quality LSD, Orange Sunshine, all while staying one step ahead of federal agents. The two men, Tim Scully and Nick Sand were LSD enthusiasts who became such big fans of the drug during the Sixties that they eventually made and distributed the infamous “Orange Sunshine” pill. They have said that they weren’t out to money, and live the glamorous life but were instead on a mission to enlighten the world and stop all war, violence, and bad vibes. Director Cosmo Feilding Mellen spends a lot of time with Scully and Sand who today are aging hippies who practically live regular and sedate lives. The film looks at the rise and fall of these men and their LSD empire in detail and it also looks at the memories of this psychedelic odd couple as they visit lost loves and recall a time when they wanted everyone to turn on, tune in, and drop out.

In the late 1960s, they were giants who ruled the world and who took their first acid trips on opposite ends of the United States; Scully in San Francisco and Sand in New York. They came to a similar conclusion— if everyone took acid, it might just save the world.

They were both true believers, more interested in what they saw as the beneficial effects of psychedelic drugs than in the profit potential. When they met up and decided to start manufacturing their own LSD tablets in 1966 while Tim was ready to give the tablets away. Nick insisted on making a healthy profit, though that remained a secondary concern for him.

Getting the drugs into the hands of as many open-minded young people as possible was of paramount importance. The two men hooked up with Mike Randall, the leader of the Brotherhood of Love, a group that became their distributor.

A true believer in the benefits of acid, Randall and his group were more than happy to make the tablets that sparked the psychedelic revolution in San Francisco. Then Tim was arrested in 1969.

Law enforcement officials had been investigating Tim and Nick’s business since Blue Sunshine became a sensation, but were unable to start making arrests until after the laboratory had been moved to Denver, Colorado. The case was dismissed in 1971, but it was a harbinger of things to come. Tim decided it was time for him to move on. Nick, however, chose not to and this led to trouble for everyone.

“The Sunshine Makers” freely mixes new interviews with dramatized footage. Though interviews with two of the law enforcement officials who investigated Tom and Nick are included, the film’s primary objective is to give an affectionate portrait of the drug dealers as heroes of the psychedelic revolution. The film advocates for the charitable treatment of psychedelic drug dealers who all have only the best intentions for mankind in mind.

It has been said, “Tim Scully was not part of the psychedelic scene. He was the psychedelic scene.” He fine-tuned his acid-making skills with LSD pioneer Owsley Stanley, joining him for a spell building electronic equipment for the Grateful Dead.

After years of mystical trips and wild women, the 1960s ended and the ’70s were a bummer. Starting in 1977, Scully spent three years in prison after an epically bad trip. Once free, he worked in technology in Northern California and is now retired and researching a book on LSD.

Following a 1970s drug bust, Sand spent 23 years on the lam and was arrested in 1996 in British Columbia. Police uncovered his lab there, which had enough LSD to dose the whole of Canada two times over. He served six years in prison and is now living in Ecuador with his fifth wife.

“HENRI-GEORGES CLOUZOT’S INFERNO”— An Unfinished Masterpiece

“HENRI-GEORGES CLOUZOT’S INFERNO”

An Unfinished Masterpiece

Amos Lassen

In 1964, Henri-Georges Clouzot, the acclaimed director of thriller masterpieces “Les Diaboliques” and “Wages of Fear”, began work on his most ambitious film yet, “L’Enfer” (“Inferno”). The film is set in a beautiful lakeside resort in the Auvergne region of France and was to be a sun scorched elucidation on the dark depths of jealousy starring Romy Schneider as the harassed wife of a controlling hotel manager (Serge Reggiani). However, even with huge expectations, major studio backing and an unlimited budget, after three weeks the production, it all collapsed under the weight of arguments, technical complications and illness.

This new and award-winning documentary by Serge Bromberg and Ruxandra Medrea present the film’s incredible expressionistic original rushes, screen tests, and on-location footage, reconstructs Clouzot’s original vision, and shows what happened to the ill-fated endeavor through interviews, dramatizations of un-filmed scenes, and Clouzot’s own notes.

 This was an audaciously experimental film with a virtually unlimited budget that was stopped only three weeks into production. Working closely with Clouzot’s widow, Inès, Serge Bromberg and Ruxandra Medrea reconstruct Clouzot’s original vision, filling as well as explaining the gaps with new interviews, re-enactments and Clouzot’s own notes and storyboards and we get to see what the film might have been.

Shots from the narrative proper, in stark black-and-white, look typically gorgeous, the primary reason to see “Inferno” is Clouzot’s amazing experiments with superimposed imagery.

Clouzot’s perfectionism weighed on all involved. His actors were daunted by his demands, though they delivered extraordinary performances. Crewmembers complained of frequently being woken at 2 AM when the c director had another idea. The film was probably always doomed, but the story of it is romantic and addictive.

The documentary combines archive footage (mostly black and white) with modern interviews and some redone scenes in color. Clouzot’s script is built around the obsessive jealousy of Marcel, a middle-aged, chisel-featured man married to a much younger and beautiful flirtatious woman. The main goal of the filmmaker was to try to visually render feelings of anxiety and neurosis. If nothing else, from the many clips of never before seen footage the documentary shares, it appears he would’ve succeeded on that point remarkably well.

The footage of the film itself is brilliantly composed and framed and the standout sections are the hours of tests (shot in both black & white and color) for the delusions Marcel has during his struggle with his jealousy. Playing with light, water and “kinetic art”, Clouzot devised some stunning visual experiments and captured them on film.

SPECIAL FEATURES include:

* High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation

* Original 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio

* Optional English subtitles

* Lucy Mazdon on Henri-Georges Clouzot, the French cinema expert and academic talks at length about the films of Clouzot and the troubled production of Inferno

* They Saw Inferno, a featurette including unseen material, providing further insight into the production of Inferno

* Filmed Introduction by Serge Bromberg

* Interview with Serge Bromberg

* Stills gallery

* Original trailer

* Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Twins of Evil

FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Ginette Vincendeau

“JEAN-LUC GODARD+JEAN-PIERRE GORIN: FIVE FILMS”— A Revolutionary Concept of Film

“JEAN-LUC GODARD+JEAN-PIERRE GORIN: FIVE FILMS”

A Revolutionary Concept of Film

Amos Lassen

A new box set, with five innovative film collaborations from French director Jean-Luc Godard and film writer Jean-Pierre Gorin introduces us to a revolutionary cinema style in an attempt to disseminate explosive political ideas, and shake up the world of film. The five films listed below were all originally shot in 16mm celluloid and are examples of Godard and Gorin’s revolutionary project. The films are:

* “Un film comme les autres” [“A Film Like Any Other”]

* “British Sounds” or “See You at Mao”

* “Vent d’est” [“Wind from the East”]

* “Lotte in Italia / Luttes en Italie” [“Struggles in Italy”]

* “Vladimir et Rosa” [“Vladimir and Rosa”]

After finishing his film “Weekend” in 1967, Godard shifted gears and began engaging more directly with the radical political movements of the era, creating a new kind of film, or, as he eventually put it: “new ideas distributed in a new way.” This new method in part involved his collaborating with young critic and journalist, Jean-Pierre Gorin. Both as a two-person unit, and as part of the loose collective known as the Groupe Dziga Vertov (named after the early 20th-century Russian filmmaker and theoretician), Godard and Gorin realized “some political possibilities for the practice of cinema” and craft new frameworks for investigating the relationships between image and sound, spectator and subject, cinema and society.

SPECIAL FEATURES INCLUDE:

* High-definition digital transfer

* High-definition Blu-ray (1080p) and standard-definition DVD presentations

* Original uncompressed monaural audio

* Optional English subtitles

* A conversation with JLG – Interview with Jean-Luc Godard from 2010 by Dominique Maillet and Pierre-Henri Gibert

* 100-page full-color book containing English translations for the first time of writing by, and interviews with, Godard and Gorin, and more.

“FOAM PARTY”— Having Fun

“Foam Party” (“Como la espuma”)

Having Fun

Amos Lassen

.Milo (Carlo D’ursi) is a young man is paraplegic because of an accident and he is still dealing with trauma . Lately, he has been feeling alone because he is confined to a wheelchair after and is still very angry that Mario, the love of his life, walked out on him some ten years ago.

 Milo’s friend Gus (Nacho San Jose) calls a friend of his own, transsexual named Camilla (Javier Ballesteros) and asks her to host a party to celebrate Milo’s birthday. Instead, Camilla organizes an orgy at Milo’s big home where a few hundred people to have indiscriminate sex.

Naturally, the participants have stories. Elisa is a young shy and romantic girl looking to know if she has a wild side like her friends. She meets Jorge, a nice boy more who has experimented in life and sex. Marta and Jesús, are in their thirties and married to each other but passion has left their marriage. Rubén, Isma and Pato are three friends who hope to have sex with as many girls as they can while Susana, a mature woman is looking for somebody important for her. Then there is Mario (Daniel Muriel), Milo’s high school love.

As this diverse group of strangers search for sex, they uncover both funny and profound stories that expose some of their most inner secrets and hopes and dreams as well as their fears.  At the same time, Milo is dealing with issues of his own as he resents his home being used by all these people.

This will come to a head for him when he discovers that Mario is there and he has to deal with wanting to maintain his bitter contempt whilst at the same time trying not to show that he is still very much in love with him.

The sex scenes are discreetly filmed as are the other fun things the party guests do while naked. This is a comedy that gives the viewer a feel good feeling and the strong gay storyline is charming. The film is written and directed by Roberto Perez Toledo and he shows us things are not always what they seem.

“1:54”— Bullying, Intimidation and Homophobia

 

“1:54”

Bullying, Intimidation and Homophobia

Amos Lassen

At 16, Tim (Antoine Olivier Pilon) is a bright student and gifted athlete. However, he is very nervous and with good reason. His suburban high school is a hotbed of bullying, social-media intimidation and homophobia, and Tim’s sexuality is evolving. He is dealing with the nebulous world of teenage sexual identity while his schoolmates have left him isolated and afraid. He has one friend (Robert Naylor), who collaborates with him on science experiments that often end in violent explosions and gales of laughter. When his friend dies tragically, Tim copes with his grief and anxiety by throwing himself back into competitive running, a sport he’d abandoned. But there will be no Hollywood ending here, nor a West Hollywood one.

Yann England’s dramatic thriller is about peer pressure and the catalyst for a dramatic change in attitude and a redefinition of what makes Tim who he is. We enter a resonant and believable adolescent world. We see the impotence that parents and teachers suffer when trying to ‘control’ teenagers. Face-to-face bullying has not been replaced by so-called cyber-bullying and there is no longer the sanctuary of the home. Social media has made sure of that. We do not see kids playing a prank but young adults perpetrating the crimes of premeditated hate, harassment and assault. They should not be shielded because of their age.

Bullying has to be seen as and treated for what it is… a crime. Pilon’s performance as a young, gay teen with a target on his back is nothing short of wonderful. He goes through every emotion that a lifetime will throw at you…he stands, he falls, gets back up, gets knocked down…when totally broken, he breaks. As a first feature, Yann England shows the sheer isolation that this young man experiences causing us to be irate when the film ends.

Since the suicide of Tim’s best friend Francis, he has only one goal in mind, racing and beating his rival and bully so he takes his place at the national finals. For several years, Tim had abandoned running , but with the events that took away his best friend, the need for revenge propelled him to surpass himself. We are taken into the darkest corners of the harsh reality some people experience during their high school. The narrative gradually evolves into what seems to be a race between homophobia and tolerance, but it suddenly veers into something far more sinister and harrowing. Let me issue this challenge— I dare you not to weep when the film is over.

“BASKET CASE”— The Tenant in Room 7

“BASKET CASE”

The Tenant in Room 7

Amos Lassen

Frank Henenlotter’s 1982 film Basket Case is a riotous and blood-spattered midnight movie experience, now with a lavish new 4K restoration by the Museum of Modern Art.

Duane Bradley is a pretty ordinary guy. His formerly conjoined twin Belial, on the other hand, is a deformed, fleshy lump whom he carries around in a wicker basket. Arriving in New York and taking up a room at the seedy Hotel Broslin, the pair set about hunting down and butchering the surgeons responsible for their separation. Tensions flare up when Duane starts spending time with a pretty blonde secretary, and Belial’s homicidal tendencies reach bloody new extremes.

The film was made on a shoestring budget against the backdrop of 1980s New York and it has become one of the most celebrated cult movies of all time.

SPECIAL EDITION  include:

* Presented from a brand new 4K restoration from the original 16mm negative by MoMA

* High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation

* Original Uncompressed Mono Audio

* Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing

* Brand new audio commentary with writer/director Frank Henenlotter and star Kevin Van Hentenryck

Basket Case 3-1/2: An Interview with Duane Bradley – Frank Henenlotter revisits Duane Bradley decades after the events of the original Basket Case

Seeing Double: The Basket Case Twins – a brand new interview with Florence and Maryellen Schultz, the twin nurses from Basket Case

* Brand new making-of featurette containing new interviews with producer Edgar Ievins, casting person/actress Ilze Balodis, associate producer/effects artist Ugis Nigals and Belial performer Kika Nigals

Blood, BASKET and Beyond – a brand new interview with actress Beverly Bonner

Belial Goes to the Drive-In – a brand new interview with film critic Joe Bob Briggs

* Outtakes Featurette

In Search of the Hotel Broslin – archive location featurette

Slash of the Knife (1972) – short film by Frank Henenlotter

Belial’s Dream (2017, 5 mins) – brand new Basket Case-inspired animated short by filmmaker Robert Morgan

* Behind-the-scenes of Belial’s Dream

* Trailers, TV Spots and Radio Spots

* Extensive Still Galleries

* Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Sara Deck

 

FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Collector’s booklet with new writing on the film by Michael Gingold

“ORCHESTRA REHEARSAL”— An Allegorical Pseudo-Documentary

“ORCHESTRA REHEARSAL”

An Allegorical Pseudo-Documentary

Amos Lassen

Federico Fellini’s “Orchestra Rehearsal” was made in 1978 for Italian television and is possibly Fellini’s most satirical and overtly political film. It is an allegorical pseudo-documentary film that depicts an Italian television crew’s visit to a dilapidated auditorium (a converted 13th-century church) to meet an orchestra preparing to rehearse under the instruction of a tyrannical conductor. The TV crew interviews the various musicians who each speak lovingly about their chosen instruments. However, petty squabbles break out amid the different factions of the ensemble and the conductor berates his musicians causing the rehearsal to turn into anarchy and vandalism. A destructive crescendo ensues before the musicians regroup and play together once more in perfect harmony.

Fellini’s rich imagery and expressive style are everywhere here, in this the last collaboration between Fellini and composer Nino Rota (he died in 1979) who provides one of his most beautiful themes in the film’s conclusion.

The church is a distinguished place which has the tombs of popes and bishops buried within it and is now turned into an auditorium on account of its acoustics. Disagreement, not only among the musicians themselves, but between them and the conductor, and a dispute with their Trade Union about whether they are getting paid for their work changes the atmosphere of the holy place. There are also rumblings outside the building that seem to pose an even greater threat to the unity of their work.

Fellini’s voice can be heard from behind the camera and every now and then he ask questions from the individual members of the orchestra. Being a Fellini film, they are as varied a group of characters as the instruments they play, and each of them talks about the particular qualities that characterize the instrument, its tone, its qualities and temperament and how it ought to be used. Each musician believes that his/her instrument is the most important one in the orchestra.

The analogy of “Orchestra Rehearsal” is consequently a simple one – as beautiful as a solo instrument is and as fine as an individual voice is, acting in concert and in harmony, individuals working together under strong leadership can achieve something greater. However, this can also become a destructive force, but even though there is dispute and disagreement, the dialogue of working with another person under the direction of a person of vision allows those temperaments to be channeled towards positive ends. There is a very vague and unspecific political message in all this, but I cannot help but suspect that the main interest of the subject for Fellini is in corresponding analogy of the director as the guiding force behind the creation of great work of art. Fellini has captured the variety and the joyous pulse of life throughout his filmmaking career and having a particular affinity for expressing that vibrancy through the music Rota. Here Fellini has abandoned narrative plot and breaks down the barriers between reality and fiction by having him clearly ‘orchestrate’ the proceeding.

There are flourishes of Fellini’s greatness here and, as is common in later Fellini films, he relies on a show-stopping finale that justifies the banality and almost self-parody of what has preceded it. It is at those times that Nino Rota’s music speaks for itself, which is only in a few brief moments during the film and during the raucous finale.

SPECIAL FEATURES include:

* Brand new 2K restoration from original film elements, produced by Arrow Films exclusively for this release

* High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation

* Original 1.0 mono sound

* Optional English subtitles

* Richard Dyer on Nino Rota and Orchestra Rehearsal, the film scholar talks about the great composer and his last collaboration with Fellini

* Orchestrating Discord, a visual essay on the film by Fellini biographer John Baxter

* Gallery featuring rare poster and press material on the film from the Fellini collection of Don Young

* Reversible sleeve featuring two original artwork options

FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Adrian Martin