Novecento (1900) | DVD release – De Niro and Depardieu go to war in Bernardo Bertolucci’s ambitious epic

With his trademark operatic sense of scale and painterly eye, director Bernardo Bertolucci presents his deeply personal view of the changing face of Italian politics, provincial life, industry and class across five decades – from 1901 to 1945.

Our guides on this five-hour journey are Alfredo (Robert De Niro), the son of the bourgeois landowning Berlinghieri family, whose lands the local peasants want a share of, and Olmo (Gérard Depardieu), the bastard son of one of those peasants, and it is their intense on-and-off friendship and their relationships with the women in their lives that drives Bertulocci’s episodic narrative.

Epic in scope, melodramatic in execution, and displaying its socialist message in every carefully choreographed set piece, this sumptuously shot period drama – featuring another superb score from Ennio Morricone – is Bertolucci’s communist love poem that’s made with both cinephiles and the masses in mind. And watch out for Donald Sutherland, whose foreman Attila is one of the vilest creations ever brought to the screen.

Novecento was filmed in the 1:85:1 aspect ratio and is presented here in Eureka’s Masters of Cinema Dual Format two-disc Blu-ray release, based on a 1080p high-definition transfer, with both English and Italian soundtracks, and with the original running time of 315mins. The special features include a making-of documentary and two video pieces featuring Bertolucci and cinematographer Vittorio Storaro.