1900 (1976) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

1900 is an ambitious five hour film from one of Italy's greatest directors, Bernardo Bertolucci, and it was supposed to be his masterwork, his overview of Italy's modern history. He hired the best actors in the world. His cinematographer was Vittorio Storaro, who had already done two great Bertolucci films and would eventually go on to win three Oscars and be nominated for another. The music was composed by Ennio Morricone, who was eventually nominated for five Oscars - and those weren't even close to being his best scores! He could have been nominated for ten Oscars or more. Morricone was inexplicably not nominated for The Good the Bad and the Ugly, Cinema Paradiso, or Once Upon a Time in America, three of the best original scores written since WW2.

The film is epic in scope. It tells the stories of two boys born on the same estate on the same day in 1900. One (played by Robert DeNiro) is the son of a wealthy landowner; the other (Gerard Depardieu) is the bastard son of one of the peasants who works that land. They play together as boys, and remain friends throughout their lives, despite two world wars and great political differences. Their stories are used to tell Italy's story in the 20th century: the class struggles, the gap between rich and poor, how the rich gradually turned toward fascism to establish order, while the poor embraced socialism.

I suppose I've made my point. Five hour film, the best talent in the world, virtually unlimited money and artistic freedom for one of the world's great directors. It also included daring, arguably pornographic scenes featuring big stars in explicit sex acts. As you might guess, 1900 was the hottest ticket at Cannes ...

... until people saw it, whereupon the guys in the business side of the industry started to think it might be marketed as a cure for insomnia. The first half of the movie stays almost entirely in multi-generation family saga territory, while the second half is political, practically a love-poem to socialism, and is greatly oversimplified by cartoon characters. Donald Sutherland, as the local Fascist, turns in a Snidely Whiplash performance of moustache-twirling evil in which he sodomizes children and tortures family pets. I'm not kidding. His performance is so lacking in nuance that he makes Burt Lancaster (also in the movie) seem to be a master of subtlety in comparison.

If you are a mainstream film fan, this is not for you unless you're really into Italian politics. It's long and boring and one-sided. If you are a major film buff, however, 1900 is required viewing just because it is what it is, because so many great talents collaborated on such an ambitious project. You will probably find it deeply flawed, but you may like it, and you may even love it. Although it received some harsh reviews at the time (Ebert and Canby both panned it), many people praise its genius, and about 70% of IMDb voters score it 8.0 or higher.

1900 DVD 5 HR Version Widescreen Bernardo Bertolucci (1976)


  • No Region 1 available
  • The version to the left is Region 2, PAL. It is available from an American importer. (Click on the image for details.)
  • Full, uncut version: five hours and seven minutes long, on two disks
  • Widescreen transfer.
  • Audio in choice of three languages: German/English/French
  • Subtitles available in most Western European languages



  • Dominique Sanda - breasts and pubes

  • Stefania Casini - breasts and very brief pubes. She masturbates DeNiro and Depardieu, one with each hand, on camera,

  • Robert DeNiro - all

  • Gerard Depardieu - all

  • Miscellaneous unknown men - full frontals

  • Miscellaneous unknown women - additional breasts

The Critics Vote ...

The People Vote ...

The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

Our own guideline:

  • A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre.
  • B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. In order to rate at least a B-, a film should be both a critical and commercial success. Exceptions: (1) We will occasionally rate a film B- with good popular acceptance and bad reviews, if we believe the critics have severely underrated a film. (2) We may also assign a B- or better to a well-reviewed film which did not do well at the box office if we feel that the fault lay in the marketing of the film, and that the film might have been a hit if people had known about it. (Like, for example, The Waterdance.)
  • C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by people who enjoy this kind of movie. If this is your kind of movie, a C+ and an A are indistinguishable to you.
  • C means it is competent, but uninspired genre fare. People who like this kind of movie will think it satisfactory. Others probably will not.
  • C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie, but genre addicts find it watchable. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film, but films with this rating should be approached with caution by mainstream audiences, who may find them incompetent or repulsive or both. If this is NOT your kind of movie, a C- and an E are indistinguishable to you.
  • D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-. Films rated below C- generally have both bad reviews and poor popular acceptance.
  • E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre.
  • F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.


Based on this description, this film is a C-. It's not possible to rate it any lower. It's a five hour film epic from one of the world's greatest directors, starring some of the world's greatest actors. But given those facts, it could not be much worse. It's one of the most boring films I've ever seen.

Return to the Movie House home page