Farinelli Review

by ben DOT hoffman AT bcsbbs DOT com (Ben Hoffman)
April 20th, 1995

A film review by Ben Hoffman
Copyright 1995 Ben Hoffman

    Based on a true story about two brothers, Ricardo and Carlo Broschi. It was quite the custom in Italy to castrate young boys with good voices so that their voices would not change. This took place mostly in the 17th and 18th Centuries with many becoming very famous even to the point of having groupies and insignia worn by the fans. With all the crazy customs of people over the centuries it is a wonder the human race has survived this long. Not everyone became famous; many had their lives ruined by the mutilation.

    When the film opens there is a handsome boy of about 9 years old who is singing in the chorus. He has a beautiful voice. His friend, standing next to him, cautions him not to sing because "you know what they do to young boys who have good voices."

    In the film, the singer is called Farinelli (Stephano (Dionisi). His father induces him to help his older brother, Ricardo, (Enrico Lo Verso) who is a composer. "He will compose and you will sing and together you two will be famous. Please do not let us down; do it for your brother and me." And so he submits.

    Farinelli grows up and becomes famous, singing before kings and queens. His brother's compositions are of very poor quality but he is carried along by the younger one's beautiful voice and popularity.
    Despite his being one of the castrati, women are taken in by his beauty and his voice. When asked, he tells one beautiful woman Alexandra (Elsa Zylberstein), that he was left enough to satisfy a hundred women. That is not quite true. He starts and then his brother finishes.

    Touching, beautifully mounted and directed, filled with drama. the film is not to be missed. It was nominated for the Best Foreign Film. Derek Lee Ragin and Eva Mallas Godlewska did the actual singing, their voices digitally fused. You cannot tell the singing was dubbed.
    For something different and excellent, try FARINELLI. You will love it.

With English subtitles.

Directed by Gerard Corbiau.

4 bytes
4 Bytes = Superb
3 Bytes = Too good to be missed.
2 Bytes = So so.
1 Byte = Save your money.

Ben Hoffman

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