Aria  (1987) from Tuna and Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

Tuna says (white):

Aria is essentially 10 unrelated segments done by different directors, and has the lack of continuity that usually occurs when this is attempted. Each director was given a famous Aria, and asked to create a video interpretation of the aria. Most have little or nothing to do with the aria, and many are incomprehensible. They range from fanciful to strange, classical to very modern, and exposure-free to full frontal. All of the scenes are beautifully photographed, and, although opera is not my favorite music, it is much easier to take while watching naked women. There is almost no dialogue. The arias themselves are famous recordings. I am not a huge opera fan, but Leontyne Price was a highlight for me. She has an amazing voice. I will say that Aria contains some very powerful images, which will stay with me.

A lot of very talented people were involved, there is a huge variety in interpretation, and the imagery is sometimes crystal clear and sometimes atmospheric, but always powerful in some way. I enjoyed some segments this time much more than my first watching, partially because I knew what to expect. This is definitely an art film, but with a somewhat bold idea. If you have to have plot and pace, this is not your film, but if you can open your ears and eyes, and let the images and sounds wash over you, you might enjoy it. With the unique concept, the all-star cast and directors, and the great imagery, this will have some cross-over appeal, and is probably a B-.

This is not a film for the masses, but is worth seeing for those not totally put off by my brief description.


The good news is that the DVD transfer is good to very good, and there is lots of nudity:
  • 1) Bridget Fonda in her premier role
  • 2) Elizabeth Hurley
  • 3) Drew Linzi
  • 4) Marion Peterson
  • 5) Valerie Alain.

Scoop says (yellow):

I guess I have the same ambivalence that Tuna shows for the film.

The positives:

  • It is beautifully transferred and some segments are beautifully filmed.
  • It has lots of naked chicks, many of them very famous, all of them gorgeous.
  • It has Leontyne Price's extraordinary voice.

The negatives

  • The whole is less than the sum of the parts. They made a pretentious attempt to tie it all together.
  • It flows very slowly
  • The Godard segment is some incomprehensible gibberish. It consists of beautiful French women photographed stark naked in good light, so it's difficult to object too strenuously, even though they are pointlessly feeling up muscle-men, all of which has a tenuous relationship to the music.
  • This isn't really a negative, but a personal thing. The arias they chose did not include any that I really love. The list follows:
  • Un Ballo In Maschera (dir. Nicolas Roeg, Starring Theresa Russell)
  • La Virgine Degli Angeli (dir. Charels Sturridge, Starring Nicola Swain)
  • Armide (dir. Jean-Luc Godard, Starring Marion Peterson)
  • Les Boereades (dir. Robert Altman, Starring Julie Haggerty)
  • Die Tote Stadt (dir. Bruce Beresford, Starring Elizabeth Hurley)
  • Rigoletto (dir. Julien Temple, Starring Buck Henry, Beverly D'Angelo)
  • I Pagliacci "On With The Motley" (dir. Bill Bryden, Starring John Hurt)
  • Depuis Le Jour (dir. Derek Jarman, Starring Tilda Swinton)
  • Nessun Dorma (dir. Ken Russell, Starring Linzi Drew)
  • Liebestod (dir. Franc Roddam, Starring Bridget Fonda)


DVD info from Amazon.

  • widescreen anamorphic, 1.78:1

If you a predisposed to like the music, I think you'll like the movie, assuming you have no objection to seeing people like Elizabeth Hurley stark naked from every angle. Even if you hate opera and airy-fairy photography, it is still worth seeing for the nudity, but the pacing is slow, so settle into that sofa with the remote within reach. My guess is that it is a C+, a solid movie if you are predisposed to like the fine arts, but likely to be tedious for the average viewer. No demographic segment at IMDb liked it. Among those groups with 20 or more votes, there was no demographic segment of any age or gender that scored it more than 5.4/10. 

The Critics Vote

  • General consensus: two and a half. Ebert 3/4, 1.5/4, Apollo 68/100

The People Vote ...

  • IMDB summary. IMDb voters score it 5.2/10, Apollo voters 60/100.
  • with their dollars: virtually nothing - only a million dollars domestically, despite its use of ten directors.
IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My 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. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. 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+ (Scoopy) to B- (Tuna). Plusses: Opera classics, beautiful photography, beautiful naked women. Minuses: slow pace, segments inconsistent, often pretentious.

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