The Skin Blu-ray Review

     Actors: Burt Lancaster, Marcello Mastroianni
  • Director: Liliana Cavani
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Blu-ray, DTS Surround Sound, Full Screen
  • Language: Italian
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Cohen Media Group
  • Release Date: January 13, 2015
  • Run Time: 142 minutes


            Intentionally shocking and defiantly vulgar in its presentation, Liliana Cavani’s controversial film adaptation of Curzio Malaparte’s short stories about the corruption of war often feels like a dramatic endeavor from Monty Python. Violence is so extreme that it is nearly cartoonish, and the characters all seem created for the sole purpose of satire. There is great impact in the cinematic choices made to enhance the narrative’s satirical outlook, perhaps no less when considering the modern relevance to the tale as well as when it was made. The war of each time period may change, but the ugliness of the spirit seems to stay the same.


            The biting edge of the film is only enhanced by the fact that the narrative is based on the true memoirs of the author, during his time as diplomatic liaison between the Allied forces and the locals in the newly occupied Italy during World War II. Malaparte (played by Marcello Mastroianni) leads the Allied forces into Italy, where they are greeted as saviors. At first this seems to be for their service in the war, but it quickly becomes apparent that the Italian population merely adjusts the behavior for survival. Though we see none of the Nazi-occupation which precedes the arrival of the Allied forces, we can imagine that they were greeted in a similar manner. Politics matters little to the locals, though they are willing to prostitute themselves and their ideals for the means of survival.


            This despicable arrangement is quickly made apparent by the speed with which the local women begin selling their sexuality to the soldiers, including a father who daily sells his daughter’s purity to a gaggle of corrupt men willing to pay for mere moments with an innocent virgin. The fact that this is seen to be such a commodity is both a testament to the corruption and lack of innocence in war-time Italy. And when sex is not shocking enough to portray the immorality of men in war, the narrative is peppered with moments of shocking violence.


            Because the film was adapted from a series of mostly unrelated stories, the plot often seems to meander from one shocking scenario to the next, with no real end in sight. The Skin is a film that works off of the ideas from the source material, not the plot. Those familiar with the classic Italian co-production will be pleased to find the extremely cinematic film on high definition Blu-ray, though the back cover has mistakenly labeled the package as the “DVD Edition.” As well as a fairly pristine presentation of the film, the Blu-ray extras include four featurettes and a commentary track featuring critics Wade Major and Andy Klein. There is also a vintage and re-release trailer.


    Entertainment Value: 6/10

    Quality of Filmmaking: 7.5/10

    Historical Significance:  6.5/10

    Special Features: 8/10



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