The Wide Blue Road
(La grande strada azzurra)
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[A] starkly beautiful morality tale. . . . A political movie that, partly through the powerful lead performance of its star, the relatively young Yves Montand, transcends its own politics.Stephen Holden, New York Times
Yves Montand, Alida Valli, Francisco Rabal, Umberto Spadaro,
Gillo Pontecorvo’s The Wide Blue Road was saved from obscurity by two of the film’s greatest admirers, Jonathan Demme and Dustin Hoffman, in the early 2000s; the version we present was restored from the original camera negatives. In the tradition of the Neorealist masters, Pontecorvo—now best known for The Battle of Algiers (1966)—originally planned to shoot his debut feature in black and white and work with non-actors from a local fishing community. The film’s producers insisted on using the more commercially viable Ferraniacolor, the Italian equivalent of Technicolor, and a star-powered cast, including Yves Montand, who had created a sensation a few years earlier with The Wages of Fear, along with Alida Valli and Francesco Rabal. The postwar setting is a small island off the Dalmatian coast and the vast blue waters that surround it. Montand plays Squarciò, a renegade fisherman who resorts to the illegal but lucrative practice of bomb fishing in an effort to provide for his wife and children. “Pontecorvo once declared that ‘the ideal filmmaker should be three-quarters Rossellini and one-quarter Eisenstein.’ The Wide Blue Road has the three-quarters Rossellini part down, but the remaining quarter is pure Douglas Sirk, and that touch of emotional extravagance helps make it hugely entertaining” (Maitland McDonagh, Time Out).