DIRECTOR: GERARD CORBIAU
COUNTRY: FRANCE, ITALY, BELGIUM 1994
CINEMATOGRAPHY: WALTHER VANDEN ENDE
MUSIC: CHRISTOPHE ROUSSET
CAST: Stefano Dionisi, Enrico LoVerso, Elsa Zylberstein, Caroline Cellier, Marianne Bondet, Graham Valentine, Pier Paolo Capponi, Jeroen Krabbe
SUPER FEATURES: The music and the film.
This is a film about Carlo & Ricardo Broschi, a famous pair in their heyday, when castrati were famous because they could carry a tune beyond the talents of many singers of the time. Farinelli, (Carlo) was at the time the best known of them, and he is given much credit for having made a lot of Handel's music famous, and to turn the famous musician's style from pretentious into something valuable and good.
It is the story of two brothers, one a composer and the other one a singer. The singer had been castrated in his younger days, to preserve the wonderful voice he had. And though most life around him was not very pleasant, he did make the best of it, until he achieved a certain amount of success, and from then on, the rest was history, as they say. The film, spends much time endorsing the voice part of its main character, but it also shows the underside, the unhappiness and the frustration which Farinelli lives under. In many ways, he can not satisfy a woman, and for many years, this job is left to his brother, until he marries. The film ends with his wife pregnant, but with his brother's child. Presumably the start of surrogate fatherhood.!!!
But that's degrading the film a little. This is a really well thought out film, which tries, in many ways to show that the other brother, the composer also had as much to do with his brother's rise, as he did in his brother's demise inside. It is never suggested, but there are hints that it wasn't the father that had his child castrated, but the older brother that had it done, after the father died, and the brother figured out how he could earn a living. It was the older brother that kept the two of them alive for a long time, by finding some work here and there, and later by entering competitions in fairs and the like, where they could show off in front of people. They are inevitably heard by people befitting a better social ranking, and that's when the story really starts.
The film has some very funny moments, given to the fainting of heart, and the various people who do not pay attention to the virtuoso singing. It is a moment that many of us, yes us, can easily feel threatened, but it is so true, and so well done. The such and such countess is eating and reading a book, not listening to him, and other some such events.
The exceptional mix of the music and the acting is what makes this film so nice, not to mention the outstanding costume party that the whole thing is. It's rare these days one gets to see a good period drama in full regalia, and this film fits the bill, and then some.
Very good film. Intense.
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