After venturing into pedestrian comedy in his previous film, MACARONI, director Ettore Scola returned to the single set limitations of his LE BAL for this pleasant drama which covers 80 years in the life of one Italian family. The film opens in 1906 as the clan gathers in a large Rome
apartment for a group photograph. A narrator, Carlo (Vittorio Gassman), points himself out in the picture--an infant who has just been baptized. Carlo narrates the entire film as time passes, Scola never showing the characters outside of their apartment. In addition to Carlo, the family includes
his brother, his parents, the maid, his three matronly aunts, his wife, Beatrice (Stefania Sandrelli), and Beatrice's older and more worldly sister, Adriana (Fanny Ardant), whom Carlo really loves.
Like many of the films of Ingmar Bergman or Woody Allen, THE FAMILY goes to great lengths to recreate a family portrait album. Scola gives his audience a collection of characters, each with qualities and idiosyncracies that change and develop over the course of time. As a unifying stylistic
thread, Scola uses a recurring dolly shot through the apartment's empty hall that symbolizes the passing of time. Filled with humor, sadness, and anger, the film also manages to encompass nearly all the major political and social events of 20th-century Italy.
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