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SPECIFICATIONS
  • 1.85:1 Widescreen
  • Italian PCM Mono
  • English subtitles
  • 1 Disc
FEATURES
  • New video interviews with director Marco Bellocchio, actors Lou Castel and Paola Pitagora, editor Silvano Agosti, and critic Tullio Kezich
  • Video afterword by director Bernardo Bertolucci
  • Original theatrical trailer
  • New interview with scholar Stefano Albertini
  • Insert featuring an essay by film critic Deborah Young

Fists in the Pocket

Blu-ray
Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By: Marco Bellocchio
1965 | 108 Minutes | Licensor: Marco Bellocchio

Release Information
Blu-ray | MSRP: $39.95 | Series: The Criterion Collection | Edition: #333
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Release Date: September 3, 2019
Review Date: September 2, 2019

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SYNOPSIS

Tormented by twisted desires, a young man takes drastic measures to rid his grotesquely dysfunctional family of its various afflictions, in this astonishing debut from Marco Bellocchio. Characterized by a coolly assured style, shocking perversity, and savage gallows humor, Fists in the Pocket was a gleaming ice pick in the eye of bourgeois family values and Catholic morality, a truly unique work that continues to rank as one of the great achievements of Italian cinema.


PICTURE

Marco Bellocchio’s Fists in the Pocket receives a Blu-ray upgrade from The Criterion Collection, presenting the film on a dual-layer disc in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1. The source for the 1080p/24hz high-definition encode is a 2015 4K restoration, scanned from the 35mm original camera negative with missing footage filled in with the use of a 35mm interpositive. This cut of the film also slightly differs in comparison to the one on Criterion’s original DVD: at about the 94-minute point there is a quick shot of a kiss, which Bellocchio wanted reinserted (it’s implied he had had it removed from previous cuts).

Despite some issues with ringing and the like the final presentation found on the final DVD was still pretty good, holding up quite well and looking decent upscaled. Though the film is still not as dependably sharp as I would have liked (something I blame more on materials) the level of detail is far more striking, with fibers and patterns found on clothing sticking out more clearly. The ringing found on the old DVD is now gone and there is a more natural photographic look, aided further by the rendering of the grain. Contrast is good with strong whites and smooth transitions in the grays. Black levels can be iffy, looking rather deep and inky in some shots and milky in others; the DVD showed this as well, so I feel this has more to do with the source elements.

The restoration work has also cleaned up more and the image is just about spotless, picking off the minimal damage that remained on the old DVD. All around it improves wonderfully over the DVD and offers a cleaner and sharper looking picture.

8/10

All Blu-ray screen captures come from the source disc and have been shrunk from 1920x1080 to 900x506 and slightly compressed to conserve space. While they are not exact representations they should offer a general idea of overall video quality.

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AUDIO

The soundtrack gets upgraded to lossless PCM 1.0 mono audio. It sounds a little sharper and cleaner, voices sounding less edgy. But it’s still a flat track. Damage isn’t an issue.

6/10

SUPPLEMENTS

Criterion ports most everything over from the old DVD edition, starting with the 2005 making-of produced by Criterion, called A Need for Change. It’s a talking-heads feature but it manages to be an engaging one and features interviews with Bellocchio, actors Leo Castel and Paola Pitagora, editor Silvano Agosti, and critic Tullio Kezich. It sounds as though Kezich had a production company back in the day and he helped get the film off of the ground. He doesn’t appear much more outside of this, but everyone else recalls details about the production (Castel amusingly does his interview from a hammock), from inception to casting (Pitagora almost turned down the film based on something in the script that never actually got filmed), and then the eventual reception, which includes Buñuel’s. It only runs 33-minutes but it thoroughly covers the film’s production and the influences behind it.

Criterion then provides a couple of interviews, including a 10-minute one with filmmaker Bernardo Bertolucci (recorded in 2005), recalling his first seeing the film and the impact it had, while also addressing the underlying political themes representative of the time (comparing to his film Before the Revolution), though they’re not front-and-center. This is also addressed to an extent by film scholar Stefano Albertini, who appears in a new 11-minute interview exclusive to this edition. He explains how he came across the film initially as a young boy (he was under the impression the film would have some “spicy” content) before explaining how the film stirred up things upon its release and explaining its place in the history of Italian cinema. And like Bertolucci, Albertini feels the film has more in common with British films of the period. I felt the DVD lacked academic material and this one fills the void a little.

The previous DVD also included a booklet featuring an essay by Deborah Young on the film followed by a reprint of an interview with Bellocchio conducted in 1967. Criterion downgrades to a fold-out insert for this edition, and in turn it ends up losing the interview. I’ll admit the interview didn’t add anything about the film not already covered in the other feature, though he did talk about other Italian directors. Young’s essay is mostly the same, but it has been updated to make mention of Bellocchio’s 2015 film Blood of My Blood, which used the same primary location as Fists in the Pocket.

At least Criterion saw fit to record a new supplement for the film, though it all still feels underwhelming.

5/10

CLOSING

Supplements overall still feel light but the presentation offers a solid and noticeable upgrade over the original DVD.


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