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Nel regno di Napoli

(1978)

also known as: The Reign of Naples

directed by Werner Schroeter, 130 minutes

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The New German Cinema figurehead least likely to risk commercial success (Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Wim Wenders, Werner Herzog and even Hans-Jürgen Syberberg granted themselves easier access for most international audiences), Werner Schroeter was nonetheless an influential and important figure, surviving without compromise well past many of his contemporaries. This bold experiment is a series of vignettes caustically illustrating Italian history from the fall of fascism to its present day. Among the principal actors are African-American Percy Hogan, who'd appeared in several European EMMANUELLE knockoffs and as “Mandingo” in the spaghetti western specialist Sergio Corbucci's Daniel Defoe spoof MR. ROBINSON. The otherwise Italian cast act as if they're in a cryptic Fassbinder epic of the early 1970s, their actions boldly theatrical yet opaque. A synthesizer rock score lends further frisson to an originally television-commissioned oddity of the like one can't imagine broadcasters airing (let alone commissioning) today. Yes, things were really different back then. - Dennis Harvey

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