20th Century Fox/20th Century Fox Home Entertainment .
R4 . COLOR . 107 mins .
M15+ . PAL
Set in the small Sicilian town of Cinisi, I Cento Passi is the true story of Guiseppe “Peppino” Impostato (Luigi Lo Cascio), the son of a local peasant, who has worked hard and played the Mafia’s game to drag his family out of poverty. The title (The Hundred Steps) refers to the distance between the Impostato household, to that of Gaetano Badalamenti (Tony Sperandeo), the local Mafia boss who has made his life comfortable at the expense of ordinary folk using intimidation, extortion and exploitation.
Guiseppe's grandchildren never forgave him for running over Fluffy.
The film is set mostly in the 1970s, a volatile time in Sicilian history. The local government denied the Mafia's existence, local politics was corrupt, the communists were the only real protagonists and they were no match for the might of the Mafia bosses. When Peppino’s uncle was murdered for being a little too outspoken in his resistance to Mafia rule, Peppino denounced the Mafia and joined the Communist Party, alienating himself from his family.
With the aid of new friends who also wanted change, they launched a local radio station as a propaganda tool, brazenly denouncing the Mafia and their ‘business’ practices. Naturally, Peppino’s father was upset as he felt he owed the Mafia a debt of gratitude for giving his family a chance at being something other than peasants. Naturally, the local Mafia were not impressed either.
"Grazzi. See if you remember this one..."
As Peppino’s outrage and activism reached new heights, he decided to run in the local elections, but tragedy befell the family before the election was conducted.
I Cento Passi is quite a demanding film, but persistence will pay off. Setting the characters and the mood of the film takes up at least the first two-thirds of the film, and it is only towards the end when the characters have become like family that the real story begins to unwind. The acting is quite superb all round, and while this is a film about the local Sicilian Mafia, it is not your usual gangster film by a long stretch. It is a very heavy going political drama, made all the more challenging by the rapid fire subtitles that require your full attention much of the time.
Directed by Marco Giordana, the film is an honest and straightforward look into the lives of ordinary Sicilians, and the tragedy that is their ultimate reward for straying from well trodden paths.
It would appear that the entire film has been recorded on videotape, high quality though I am sure, for it maintains a crispness that never wavers. The aspect ratio of 1.78:1 is 16:9 enhanced and for the most part is clean and clear. Colours are generally solid with little interference from potential problem areas such as bleeding and noise. However, the contrast seems a little on the dark side in many scenes, attributable to the recording source I am sure.
"Eight Across. Starts with 'P'. "Leader and spiritual guide?" - is not P. Diddy, okay?"
Black levels are mostly solid, and shadow detail is acceptable. Shimmer and aliasing is minimal, there is some non-intrusive grain in some scenes and there are small but numerous artefacts that pop up frequently that come as something of a surprise given the recent age of the film. The layer change is reasonably placed at 86:35.
The only language option is an Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo that is reasonably clear with good fidelity, but with few chances to really shine. There are English subtitles available that are clear and bright.
There is not a significant amount of separation, especially with no surround or centre channel in use, and the only real evidence that this is not a mono source is the occasional panning of vehicles. There are no problems with volume, clarity or synchronisation. The musical score manages to squeeze in some 1970 popular songs that emphasises that the audio track is quite capable of entertaining sufficiently when the need arises. However, the final scene features one name that is clearly subtitled incorrectly, which means you should pay attention to the Italian text on screen.
While there are a few extras are on offer, there is a necessity to speak Italian as the better ones are not subtitled.
The Cast and Crew Filmographies simply list the films of the major cast and director, and More From the World Cinema Collection presents teasers for Facing Window, Angela, My Wife is an Actress, and The Best Man’s Wedding. There is also a small photo gallery containing mostly stills from the movie.
Then brush up your Italian or Backstage Documentary will be effectively useless (as it was for this reviewer), but at only 12 minutes one can only assume that not much is missed. There is also a theatrical trailer that does what it has to do (again in Italian) and Nel Cuore Delle Alghe E Dei Coralli, which is a 45-minute making of the film. There are no subtitles so it too will be overlooked by most.
This is not a film that will grip you from the beginning, and real patience is required, but it will be rewarded. If Reservoir Dogs is your type of mob/gangster film then this will probably fail to excite, for it is light on pulse racing action and heavy on drama and tension.