Orchestra Rehearsal Blu Ray review

A metaphor for Italian politics? A film about the disorder in creating order in art? The final collaboration between Oscar winning composer Nino Rota and famed film director Federico Fellini. A TV crew have decided to make a documentary for Italian television on the working of an Orchestra. Housed in a former 13th century church and now a musical hub because of its acoustics. The groups within the Orchestra are spilt between instrument loving players, an tired and old overseer and a hostile, dictatorial bully conductor. This all leads to anarchy as each group takes um bridge with each other, themselves and even nobody. It all unravels and the performance is in jeopardy.

Its not hard to avoid seeing the love for and adoration of Fellini. His works are entrenched in the world of film. They have been on top 10 lists, film studies courses and are even talked of as the best ever…by some. Not me however. I am a fan of his early work but think much of his later films are heavy, overly absurd or fantastical and reliant on form rather than film. Nights in Cabiria is for me his masterwork and even better than his other great film 8 1/2. Orchestra Rehearsal lays in the middle. Its short, real and uses textures of absurdity to hammer home political machinations. Do not separate the politics of art with the politics of society. Both are deeply complex and write by legacy.  Fellini’s overtly translates this by using the then new technology of television to subvert the conversation. He then submerges this into an Orchestra. Film and politics are kept at a distance but are also centre stage. The impulsion of demands and directives is handled as comical. In so much as it is an absurdity. Reality often is.

Never seeing the non 2K version it is hard to answer if it is a substantial difference. 2K gives it that film layer of colour and clarity but still keeps that sheen of light. I was taken but it might not be to everyone’s taste. Orchestrating Discord is the highlight of the set. I have to say that it is so good that I re-watched it over the film. Passion is not rare in film but storytelling is and Baxter is a great narration man. He is the start point. The other pieces all pale in comparison to this.

SPECIAL EDITION CONTENTS:

 

  • 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 Felliniana 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

 

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Simon Kennedy

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