Appunti su un fatto di cronaca (Luchino Visconti, 1953, Italy)

Appunti su un fatto di cronaca (Notes on a news story) is a short documentary by director Luchino Visconti, released in 1953. Visconti had already found success with his two first neorealist feature films - Ossessione in 1943 and La Terra Trema in 1947. The film opens with text overlaid against the backdrop of a city. The text tells us about the murder of a 12-year-old girl, Annarella Bracci, in the Borgata Primavalle neighborhood of Rome in March 1950. We see a young girl standing against a building, as well as artistic angles of other buildings in the neighborhood.

The narration begins as well with a wider landscape shot of the neighborhood. We see boys playing cards. A wide shot of a beach. The camera hovers for some time on a wide shot of the beach and then turns to a close-up of two young men playing a tennis-like game. We return once again to the girl, and it seems the narrator is indicating that this girl is the girl featured in the news story at the beginning of the film. We then cut to the site of the girl's murder, where we see a memorial and flowers set up. 

Some have called Appunti su un fatto di cronaca a pure attempt at neorealism, in that there is virtually no mediation between the camera's lens and the neighborhood people as Visconti captures them. There is some poetic sense of course with the style of the visuals, the camera angles, as well as the music that creeps in toward the beginning and the end of the film. Likewise, the narrator takes some license with flourishes that are quite poetic - "We resign ourselves to a handful of wildflowers and a painful catch in the voice". Worth watching for Visconti fans.



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