The Family – La Famiglia (1987)

The Family - La Famiglia (1987)

Taglines: In 1906 Carlo was born into a very large family.

It is the portrait of a bourgeois Italian family seen through the eyes of Carlo, an old retired professor who is the last patriarch of his family. The memoirs of Carlo characterizes the entire film, from the time of the Belle Epoque until the eighties, through two world wars, the economic boom, love, friendship and all the events which constitute human life.

All without changing their place of action: the film unfolds all around the apartment bought by the grandfather of Carlo. It shows the family and its dynastic succession and with his habits.

The Family (Italian: La famiglia) is a 1987 Italian film, directed by Ettore Scola and starred by Vittorio Gassman, Fanny Ardant, Philippe Noiret and Stefania Sandrelli. It was entered into the 1987 Cannes Film Festival.

Film Review for The Family – La Famiglia

“The Family,” directed by the usually perceptive Ettore Scola, recalls 80 years in the life of a large, loving upper-middle-class Roman family. It begins in 1906 at the baptism of the baby Carlo, lying in the arms of his patrician grandfather (Vittorio Gassman) as the members of the family gather for a group photograph.

When the film ends, more than two hours later, Carlo, having been played by three other actors earlier, has become the spitting image of his grandfather, at least partly because Mr. Gassman makes a return appearance as his own grandson.

The Family - La Famiglia (1987)

In the intervening years, Italy has survived World War I, the rise of Mussolini, the Spanish Civil War, World War II, the fall of Mussolini, Nazi occupation, Allied liberation, the sinking of the Andrea Doria and the marriage of Arthur Miller and Marilyn Monroe.

So does the movie, just barely, without ever leaving the big, roomy, comfortable apartment this family calls home and that, by 1986, must be a steal, rent-wise. News of the outside world is smuggled in through casual bits of conversation, letters, references to occasional economic hardships and, finally, by television.

Except for the usual wear and tear of the years, the members of this family (who have no last name and who appear to age at different speeds) are born, grow up, love, mate and die with remarkably little fuss. One fellow is killed in Spain. Another becomes a prisoner of war in India.

Carlo, a professor of literature like his grandfather, marries a woman who adores him, instead of her more glamorous sister, whom he adores. No real problem, though. Carlo is honorable, as is his beloved Adriana, a concert pianist who, by the time the closing credits roll by, is being played by Fanny Ardant.

In Mr. Scola’s best films (“La Nuit de Varennes,” “A Special Day,” “We All Loved Each Other So Much”), the characters possess their own particular eccentricities. Though tumultuous political events may be taking place around them, and may drastically alter their circumstances, the characters have identities of their own. The general scene is understood and made vivid in the way that it’s refracted through the utterly specific.

“The Family,” which opens today at Cinema Studio 1, has the manner of a film that was conceived as an idea: a family chronicle that unfolds entirely within a single set, thus to call attention to the blood ties that bind. The characters and events were thought up later.

Like “Le Bal,” in which Mr. Scola examined a large patch of French history as played out within a Paris dancehall, “The Family” is too abstract – perfunctory, really – to be especially moving on its own. The changing period decor is almost as dramatic as anything that happens to Carlo and the members of the family.

Adding some excitement from time to time is the appearance of new actors, who take over the roles of aging characters much in the manner of runners in a relay race. Some actors look like the people they’re replacing. Some don’t. The performances of Mr. Gassman, Miss Ardant, Stefania Sandrelli (who plays Carlo’s wife) and the others are, like their roles, surprisingly colorless.

The Family - La Famiglia Movie Poster (1987)

The Family – La Famiglia (1987)

Directed by: Ettore Scola
Starring: Vittorio Gassman, Fanny Ardant, Stefania Sandrelli, Cecilia Dazzi, Emanuele Lamaro, Andrea Occhipinti, Jo Champa, Massimo Dapporto, Ottavia Piccolo
Screenplay by: Graziano Diana, Ruggero Maccari
Production Design by: Cinzia Lo Fazio, Luciano Ricceri
Cinematography by: Ricardo Aronovich
Film Editing by: Francesco Malvestito, Ettore Scola
Costume Design by: Gabriella Pescucci
Art Direction by: Ezio Di Monte
Music by: Armando Trovajoli
Distributed by: Vestron Pictures
Release Date: January 22, 1987