'Federico Fellini's Orchestra Rehearsal: Spec Ed'
(Balduin Baas, Clara Colosimo, Elizabeth Labi, et al / Blu ray / R / (1978) 2018 / Arrow Films UK)
Overview: An orchestra assmbles for a rehearsal in an ancient chapel under the inquisive eyes of a TV documentary crew, but an uprising breaks out.
Blu ray Verdict: Made in 1978 for Italian television, 'Orchestra Rehearsal' is possibly Fellini s most satirical and overtly political film. In truth, this is also likely the finest make-believe documentary that I have ever seen! The setting is a rundown Medieval Roman chapel, now an oratorio where an orchestra gathers. A television crew is making a documentary about this orchestra (while the orchestra is dealing with a union dispute).
The bulk of the film's first half focuses on individual musicians, many of whom reminisce about their first encounter with the instrument they play. When the musicians talk about their instrument, they often share thoughtful and stimulating metaphors about the meaning and the function of their instrument.
There are a few times during the film where the action is interrupted by a large rumble in the building. We don't know what this is exactly until the end of the film. The film transforms from poetic, to pure comical delight, to complete chaos, to lyrical beauty when the musicians play the music.
Composer Nino Rota's contribution was an immense one. He composed all of the pieces the musicians play in the film, and I believe they the music is absolutely wonderful (my personal favorite of Rota's compositions for "Orchestra Rehearsal" being the final piece the orchestra performs). This was the last time Rota scored a Fellini film, he died the next year.
I also must comment on the top-notch cinematography, which is quintessentially Felliniesque (ex. incredible long shots of the orchestra playing, shots of musicians lined up in very particular angles, and a couple of sweeping pans).
Anybody who loves orchestral music will like this film to some degree. I happen to immensely love Fellini, Rota, AND orchestral music, so for me, this film is nothing short of absolutely marvelous entertainment! [YM] This is a brand new High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation enhanced for 16x9 TVs and come with the Special Features of:
Brand new 2K restoration from original film elements, produced by Arrow Films exclusively for this release
High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
Original 1.0 mono sound
Optional English subtitles
Richard Dyer on Nino Rota and Orchestra Rehearsal, the film scholar talks about the great composer and his last collaboration with Fellini
Orchestrating Discord, a visual essay on the film by Fellini biographer John Baxter
Gallery featuring rare poster and press material on the film from the Felliniana collection of Don Young
Reversible sleeve featuring two original artwork options
FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Adrian Martin