I finally got a chance to sit down and watch Giordano Bruno last night after a busy week or so. A bit of a mixed bag this one, i struggled through it in italian and was pleasantly surprised by how easy it was to follow what was going on.
The first thing I noticed while the credits were running at the start was that the cinematographer was none other than Vittorio Storaro (who we all know from the Fifth Cord, Crystal Plumage, Apocalypse Now, etc) and he really went to town in this one. This is a very lavish affair with simply stunning Venetian and Roman locations, the lighting and shot compositions are beautiful; lots of expansive shots of monochrome 16th century palaces with vivid red and purple clergymen everywhere. He uses a lot of natural daylight streaming through church windows and strong golden light in many of the evening scenes. It really is something to see. Think a late medieval/renaissance Fifth Cord and you'd be about right :'(
As for the plot, it is very talky. Being familiar with the character I sort of knew what was going on but it did seem very dry without much in the way of action or thrills. There is a little nudity and a couple of scenes of mild grue, but that's not what the film is about. It deals with the incarceration and trial of the heretic philosopher who enraged the church with his theories on the universe. Having fled Italy he would be a guest at various european courts including that of Elizabeth 1 (who makes a brief flashback appearance) before somewhat inexplicably returning to Venice where he was swiftly arrested and jailed for 7 years before being found guilty of heresy.
Gian Maria Volonte is great as expected, he plays the role from a manic womanising drunk to a weary defeated intellectual with gusto, always seeming immersed in the role. Charlotte Rampling is really only a minor character who only features in the first half hour or so, and the rest of the cast are good mainly as priest and inquisition characters.
Morricone's score is perfectly suited for the movie, it sounds very similar to the music in Designated Victim in places. There's a lot of traditional Latin hymns and choral chants as well which really help the foreboding aura of it all.
The dvd is really nice quality. 16:9, the picture is very sharp and vibrant which really enhances Storaro's work, only during the opening credits is there grain on the image, I guess they used an export print for the bulk of the film and an italian opening like in the Beatrice Cenci disc.
I'd love to see an English language version of this; either subbed or dubbed. If anyone tracks one down i'd love a copy
, i'd recommend seeing this to you all at least once for the beautiful and creative cinematography.