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The Night of the Shooting Stars

Omero Antonutti , Margarita Lozano , Paolo Taviani , Vittorio Taviani    R (Restricted)   DVD
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 38.97
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With its subtle mixture of wartime hardship, comedic interludes, and a hallucinatory hint of Italian magic realism, The Night of the Shooting Stars was named the best film of 1982 by the prestigious National Society of Film Critics. Drawing inspiration from their own experiences in Nazi-occupied Italy, the codirecting Taviani brothers (Paolo and Vittorio) remade this feature from their 1954 debut short "San Miniato, July 1944," framing its touching yet occasionally vague tale of wartime survival as a bedtime story, told by a loving mother from her memories as a 6-year-old, fleeing her Tuscan village in the closing days of World War II. American liberation is promised within days, but the Nazis have rigged village houses with mines, so the residents of san Martino flee to the countryside, where encounters with fascists are common and deadly. The film's dreamy nostalgia isn't as satisfying as, say, Cinema Paradiso, but it's still a lovely film, filled with quintessentially Italian vitality while proving, as one character observes, that "even true stories can end well." --Jeff Shannon

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A story of survival Aug. 4 2010
By Kona TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:DVD
WWII is ending, and the occupying German forces intend to blow up a village before the approaching Americans get there. Half of the villagers decide to escape, so they sneak out of town to look for the Americans while hiding in wheat fields and fighting fascists.

The movie is narrated by a woman who was a six year-old in the little band of townsfolk who escaped the village. The story is episodic and choppy, juxtaposing scenes that aren't always understandable. We never get to know any of the townsfolk as individuals; instead, we are overwhelmed with the general misery of war - the deprivation, constant fear, the cruelty, and even some surreal visions.

I guess I missed the actual night of shooting stars and it was annoying to miss the significance of the title. Also, I was often confused as to who was who, but overall, it is quite an effective wartime horror story. In Italian with subtitles.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tuscany's war. July 31 2003
By A Customer
Format:DVD
Quite simply the best movie produced by Italy in the post-Fellini/Antonioni era. (And never mind *Cinema Paradiso*, the movie of choice for those who drink cappuccinos after lunch.) *The Night of the Shooting Stars*, written and directed by Paolo and Vittorio Taviani, is a semi-autobiographical account of World War II shuddering to a close in the Tuscan countryside. The movie begins with the disembodied voice of a young woman, who proceeds to relate her childhood memories of war to her own child. We hear this as the camera stays glued on a static shot of an open window looking out into the dreamy blue evening. A typically fairy-tale-like Italian village is visible. This sets the stage for the impressionistic narrative that follows. Everything seems exaggerated in this movie, which is to be expected when the incidents are viewed primarily (though not exclusively) through the eyes of an impressionable six-year-old girl. The plot is simple: "San Martino (based on the real town of San Miniato between Pisa and Florence) is earmarked for destruction by the Germans. The villagers must decide whether to stay or leave. Rumors abound that the Americans are in the vicinity -- will they reach San Martino first? Or should the villagers hit the dusty roads in the countryside and find the Americans before their town is destroyed? About half stay, and half go: we follow the half that goes. There are dozens of characters who embark on the journey, so not much time can be expended on characterization. But the Tavianis cast actors of such unique physiognomy that we feel we know them at a glance. Quite often, they're presented as heroic archetypes. Read more ›
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  20 reviews
74 of 78 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tuscany's war. July 31 2003
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
Quite simply the best movie produced by Italy in the post-Fellini/Antonioni era. (And never mind *Cinema Paradiso*, the movie of choice for those who drink cappuccinos after lunch.) *The Night of the Shooting Stars*, written and directed by Paolo and Vittorio Taviani, is a semi-autobiographical account of World War II shuddering to a close in the Tuscan countryside. The movie begins with the disembodied voice of a young woman, who proceeds to relate her childhood memories of war to her own child. We hear this as the camera stays glued on a static shot of an open window looking out into the dreamy blue evening. A typically fairy-tale-like Italian village is visible. This sets the stage for the impressionistic narrative that follows. Everything seems exaggerated in this movie, which is to be expected when the incidents are viewed primarily (though not exclusively) through the eyes of an impressionable six-year-old girl. The plot is simple: "San Martino (based on the real town of San Miniato between Pisa and Florence) is earmarked for destruction by the Germans. The villagers must decide whether to stay or leave. Rumors abound that the Americans are in the vicinity -- will they reach San Martino first? Or should the villagers hit the dusty roads in the countryside and find the Americans before their town is destroyed? About half stay, and half go: we follow the half that goes. There are dozens of characters who embark on the journey, so not much time can be expended on characterization. But the Tavianis cast actors of such unique physiognomy that we feel we know them at a glance. Quite often, they're presented as heroic archetypes. The camera seems to glow around the young couple freshly married with a child on the way; it closes in on the village priest so that we can see every pore of guilty conscience in his face. Larger-than-life gestures help carry the characterization along. But it's the set-pieces that astonish with their comic and/or dramatic intensity and their hyper-realism. There's a marvelous bit when the girl, watching a small-scale battle that has erupted around her, associates the combatants with the heroes from Homer that her grandfather used to tell tales about. In fact, there are so many marvelous bits that to describe more of them will ruin the movie for you, but I can't end this review without mentioning the brilliant scene involving skirmishes in a wheat field between our villagers and the local contingent of hold-out Fascists. This, more than almost any sequence in cinema, captures the horror, pity, and sadness of war, and what it can do to a community. (The San Martinians and the Fascists mostly know each other, calling out behind the rows of wheat, "I know you -- you're Carlo from Pistoia, Alfredo's cousin!" It's like the Italian version of the American Civil War.) Finally, the movie serves to remind Americans just how much we meant to other peoples on the earth, and how much they loved us. This is bittersweet for us; perhaps educational for today's crop of young Italians who almost uniformly have "PACE" flags hanging out their windows these days. Anyway, *The Night of the Shooting Stars* is a must-own masterwork, without flaw. Highest recommendation.
61 of 67 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars this movie and "Cinema Paradiso": a choice of dreams Jan. 22 2005
By raul parolari - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
I was stunned by the "editorial review" above stating: "the dreamy nostalgia, while not satisfying as 'Cinema Paradiso'...". How curious for me is the fascination of the american public with "Cinema Paradiso", a mediocre, sentimental telenovela crafted to make people sigh and cry (just above the level of "The English Patient").
"The night of the shooting stars" is not about faked "dreamy nostalgia"; it is the story, beautifully told through the eyes of a young girl, of a Tuscan village in the II world war, during the German occupation (should I say "alliance"...) and the civil war (fascists-partisans), and tells a terrible choice that an entire village had to make.
There are moments in this movie that I will never forget:
- the man who, after spending the night pondering on the choice offered by the Germans (endorsed by the local priest), stands up and says: "sentite, Io dei tedeschi non mi fido..." ("look, I don't trust the Germans..."), and purely on that instinct will act, saving half of the village.
- the eyes and the face of the priest (as a reviewer says below), who realizes what he has done, too late.
- the fantastic battle in the wheat field, seen through the eyes of the girl as one in the Ilyad. And, as a reviewer says below, the people who recognize each other during the fight. Half-dream, half-reality, an incredible moment of cinema.
- the anxious wait for the arrival of the Americans, who seem always around the corner (the cruel joke from somebody, the phonograph, on that wall...).

There are fake dreams, and authentic, sincere ones; "La notte di San Lorenzo" (the beautiful Italian title) offers one whose nature you will not doubt.
22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the three best Italian films of the eighties! Aug. 20 2004
By Hiram Gomez Pardo - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
This film is real gem . Superb and loaded with cosmic poetry . Since this movie describes the insights of the WW2 in Tuscan , the Tavianni brothers avoid to describe the physical wounds of the war.

They focus on the deep impact on the psiquis and the simple behavior of a simple group of brave people for surviving.

The horror you'll breathe for instance, at the church undergrounds, the wedding and the best glorious achievement in the middle of field are simply outstanding. One little girl with his voice in off will make her own journey and will employ her particular justice code against the enemy told in such level of poetic and expressive intensity that when you leave the cinema hall remain mesmerized.

Acquire as soon as possible this extraordinary film.
29 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Night of the Shooting Stars June 4 2003
By Barbara Mccormack - Published on Amazon.com
Format:VHS Tape
I saw this movie in the theater when it was first released. It was a wonderful story with suspense, tenderness, betrayal, misconceptions. It seemed to be a straightforward wartime movie, but took off in unconventional ways. Movies like this stay with me a long, long time. I have aged considerably since first seeing Night of the Shooting Stars. When I was 20 years younger, I loved the humanity of the elderly couple. Now I'm pushing up in years, and I still love the handling of that story line!
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the Greatest of All Foreign Films April 3 2008
By Randy Buck - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
I loved this picture in its initial American release, returned to see it three times theatrically, have watched it six or seven times in the subsequent years, and gave the old MGM dvd to many people, all of whom shared my enthusiasm for such a magical film. The Taviani brothers mix realism and poetry to shattering effect; there are scenes and images, both comic and tragic, that I'll wager will stick with you a lifetime. They certainly have for me. Essential (and immensely pleasurable) viewing.
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