Let it never be said the movie industry works slowly, as 1981 Italian film Three Brothers (Tre Fratelli) has been granted a UK blu-ray and DVD release.

Three Brothers, predictably, tells the tale of three estranged siblings forced to spend time together after the death of their mother. Each brother has a different personality that is set against the ideologies of the others.

Raffaele (Philippe Noiret) is a judge and, as the eldest, protective yet turned weary by the cruelties of the world. Rocco (Vittorio Mezzogiorno) cares for wayward children let down by their parents, remaining idealistic throughout. Nicola (Michele Placido) is more hot-headed, set at odds with Raffaele as he expresses no issues with beating leaders into submission to help the working man.


Tying their disagreements together is not the loss of a parent, but the problems with terrorism suffered by the country. Each has a different standpoint on what turns young people to instilling fear in their fellow man. Because of this, a release now is relevant and the film poignant. Giving young people hope for the future without a life of violence is something civilisation has struggled with for a while, but the conversation is re-entering the public sphere.

Thanks to the countryside setting for most of the film, it has the feel of Western set in the 1800s. It’s difficult to watch the first 20 minutes without imagining Clint Eastwood waiting in the wings for a cameo. If it weren’t for the cars and scenes in the city, it would be very easy to convince yourself you were watching a something set 100 years prior.

The movie is slow, unbearably so if you don’t like the emotional, talky type of cinema. This really is one for foreign film aficionados- while the tale of loss does translate across borders and oceans, the execution does not. It is more culturally specific than films we are used to seeing from overseas and very conversational. This is, of course, what stuns film industries outside of the US.


If you cannot cope without a drop of action, there is a flash of violence that throws you into confusion,  but this is quickly undone with the reveal of a dream sequence. Otherwise, it offers a view into how people cope with the bad hands life can deal. Nicola’s troubles are the most relatable. He struggles to find happiness in his own identity as the village he grew up in no longer feels like home. Losing his sense of self is worse than the death of a parent, as he states one is something you can live with.

Throughout their discussions and disagreements, the brothers fail to recognise a problem closer to home. They each fail to see the struggles of their father, his only true companion after the death of his wife being Nicola’s young daughter.

Technically, the score is gentle, noninvasive and appropriate. It comprises of gentle piano touches and melodic soundscapes. The camera footage is grainy, as is expected of the time period, but the cinematography neither artsy nor too simple. It is not a necessary addition to the DVD shelf, and the special features are far from exciting, but is a great addition for those wishing to impress with their varied tastes.

4 / 5

Dir: Francesco Rosi

Scr: Tonino Guerra, Francesco Rosi

Cast: Phillipe Noiret, Michele Placido, Vittorio Mezzogiorno

Prd: Antonio Marci, Giorgio Nocella

DOP: Pasqualino De Santis

Music: Piero Picconi

Country: Italy/France

Year: 1981

Run time: 113 mins

Three Brothers is available on Blu-Ray and DVD now