- Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
- Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
- Resolution: 1080p/24
- Audio Codec: 1.0 Mono LPCM
- Subtitles: English
- Region: A (Region-Locked)
- Rating: Not Rated
- Discs: 1 (1 x Blu-ray)
- Studio: Criterion Collection
- Blu-ray Release Date: April 24, 2012
- List Price: $29.95
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The Organizer pays homage to the early 20th century labor movement in Italy. The theme of oppressed textile workers is well defined, and when an out of work high school teacher intrudes into the status quo, everything changes. Like a lot of post-war Italian cinema, this film employs a cinema verite approach to the life of mill workers, including the use of nonprofessional extras. From the beginning one senses the quiet desperation that typifies the workers’ lives, like the accident that claims a man’s arm. While billed as a comedy, The Organizer presents a grim facade that is consistent with the lives of the film’s anti-heroes. In spite of its age, the film’s restoration is very good. Video detail can be a bit blurry and the sound track somewhat boxy but this is what this film looked like in its 1963 release.
The story line is straightforward and delivered by an excellent cast, led by the magnificent Marcello Mastroianni who plays a high-school teacher turned strike organizer. His efforts to get the workers to buy into his approach to job action result in an eventual confrontation with the local constables that produces tragic results. At film’s end, you get a strong sense that the battle for union rights has just begun and, one day, may succeed.
Films of this age can only be restored so far and The Organizer is no exception. All things considered, this Blu-ray reissue has pretty fair definition. A bit of graininess pervades most shots, but not to a distracting degree. There are plenty of close-ups, essential to the intensity of the drama and, for the most part, these look quite good. Director Mario Monicelli was already a veteran behind the camera and understood the principles of economy of expression. His cameras capture an immediacy and intimacy that makes his characters appear to be real flesh-and-blood human beings rather than actors following a script.
The packaging suggests that the soundtrack has been seriously upgraded. But as a 1.0 LPCM product, this remastered version is still pretty boxy as is typical of this era. Dialogue is clear and native Italian-speakers will have no trouble understanding every word. Fortunately, for most viewers there are subtitles.
Unlike most Criterion Collection releases that are replete with extras, here we are limited to an interview with director Mario Monicelli, and an informative essay booklet.
The Definitive Word
The Organizer was extremely well received at its premiere and its script nominated for an Academy Award. The picture and sound are obviously dated by today’s standards but the Criterion Collection’s staff has done an excellent restoration job. The synergy between director and cast makes for a compelling and intense two hour watch. They may not make movies or directors like this anymore but that is really our loss. Those wanting more of Mario Monicelli’s cinematic work should look into Big Deal on Madonna Street (a Criterion Collection DVD). The Great War, generally considered his best film, should be next on the short list for Blu-ray reissue.
Additional Screen Captures