“Because it takes a sacrifice for the house to become strong. Solid."
Directed by Luchino Visconti in 1960, Rocco and His brothers is a movie based on Giovanni Testori’s novel The Ghisolfa Bridge. The title evokes Thomas Mann's novel Joseph and His Brothers, and not by accident: Rocco Sotellaro, a poet from Southern Italy who sang the lives and traditions of the people there, made a significant impact on Visconti.
Happiness, making a living and a career are what the five Parondi brothers Vincenzo, Simone, Rocco, Ciro and Luca hope to achieve. Following their father's death, they decide to move with their mother from their village in the South of Italy to booming Milan sometime in the early 1950s. The family’s path is marked out by moving to the city, defying their destiny, fighting it, and the hope of returning to their village.
Family ties, the struggle for survival, boxing and the gym, romantic love, the brothers’ love for each other, their inevitable rivalry, and last but not least, their homesickness fuel the drama that renders their story universal. Decisions, both right and wrong, made on the streets of the city en route to alienation will eventually cause the family to disintegrate: some are to find fulfilment there, some are to find it back in the village.
Attila Vidnyánszky’s thoughts on directing the play: “My aim is to show the forces and values that strive to bridge the gap between the purity of rural life with its traditions, and the struggles and opportunities of a metropolitan lifestyle. What makes them surrender purity, and is it necessary to give it up? The answer rests with Rocco Parondi, who replaces his brother in the boxing ring, and whose human qualities mould him into a genuine fighter. It is not by chance that Rocco's figure reminds us of Dostoyevsky's Prince Myshkin. His elementary goodness, almost self-effacing humility, and willingness to sacrifice his own happiness enable the entire family to look into the future with their head held high, whether they choose to return to their native region or not.”