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DVD Review

DVD cover

Hawks and Sparrows (1966)


Starring: Totò, Ninetto Davoli and Femi Benussi
Eureka Video
RRP: £19.99
Certificate: PG
Available 23 July 2012

Toto and Ninetto are accompanied by a talking crow who speaks truth and conscience to the point of annoyance. They travel the dusty road of realism, coming across and interacting with actor-hippies, rioters, slum-dwellers, and taking on the roles of Franciscan friars in order to preach the word of God to the hawks and sparrows. Ultimately, this is a comment on the state of the then modern world through the eyes of an old and young man...

Hawks and Sparrows is one of an on-going series of world cinema releases from Eureka! presented under the banner Masters of Cinema. This is a black and white subtitled film from Italy directed by Pier Paolo Pasolini. It stars Italy’s comic actor of the time (1966), Toto, and Pasolini regular Ninetto Davoli. It’s presented in a new high-definition transfer, with newly translated English subtitles, and a very good illustrated booklet on the film, including comments from the director.

This was considered at the time to be a widely acclaimed achievement. A sometimes political, sometimes philosophical statement on what you might call life, the universe and everything aimed at a society which was caught somewhat between religion and communism. It’s truly difficult to formulate a logical opinion one way or the other on this. Hawks and Sparrows swings menacingly between profundity and pretentiousness. It is at one moment humorous, the next ridiculously stupid in its outlook on life. The central scene displays how religion can become a circus, but minutes later has the key characters hopping around like penguins on hot coals in an attempt to communicate with the sparrows.

So the pendulum swings first one way then the other. I can see what the director was trying to achieve, but for me a movie is all about entertainment not political statements.


Ty Power

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