Rocco and His Brothers

Rocco and His Brothers (Italian: Rocco e i suoi fratelli) is a 1960 Italian film directed by Luchino Visconti, inspired by an episode from the novel Il ponte della Ghisolfa by Giovanni Testori. Set in Milan, it tells the story of a migrant family from the South and its disintegration in the society of the industrial North. The title is a combination of Thomas Mann's Joseph and His Brothers and the name of Rocco Scotellaro, an Italian poet who described the feelings of the peasants of southern Italy.[4]

Rocco and His Brothers
Italian theatrical release poster
ItalianRocco e i suoi fratelli
Directed byLuchino Visconti
Screenplay byLuchino Visconti
Suso Cecchi D'Amico
Pasquale Festa Campanile
Massimo Franciosa
Enrico Mediola
Story bySuso Cecchi d'Amico
Luchino Visconti
Vasco Pratolini
Based onIl ponte della Ghisolfa
by Giovanni Testori
Produced byGoffredo Lombardo
StarringAlain Delon
Renato Salvatori
Annie Girardot
Katina Paxinou
Roger Hanin
Spiros Focás
Claudia Mori
Alessandra Panaro
Corrado Pani
Paolo Stoppa
Suzy Delair
Claudia Cardinale
CinematographyGiuseppe Rotunno
Edited byMario Serandrei
Music byNino Rota
Les Films Marceau[citation needed]
Distributed byAstor Pictures Corporation[1]
Release date
  • 6 September 1960 (1960-09-06) (Italy)
  • 26 June 1961 (1961-06-26) (United States)
Running time
177 minutes
Box office
  • 2,173,480 admissions (France)[2]
  • $11,328 gross (Italy)[3]

The film stars Alain Delon, Renato Salvatori, Annie Girardot, and Claudia Cardinale in one of her early roles before she became internationally known.[citation needed] The score was composed by Nino Rota.


After the death of his father, Rocco Parondi (Alain Delon), one of the five sons of a poor rural Italian family, travels north from Lucania to join his older brother Vincenzo in Milan, led by the matriarch Rosaria (Katina Paxinou). She is the "hand to which the five fingers belong," as she states in the film, and she has a powerful influence on her sons. Presented in five distinct sections, the film weaves the story of the five brothers Vincenzo, Simone, Rocco, Ciro and Luca Parondi as each of them adapts to his new life in the city.

Vincenzo, the eldest brother, is already living in Milan when his mother and brothers come to join him expecting to move in with him. An initial scene ensues between the Parondi family and Vincenzo's fiancée Ginetta's family, and the whole Parondi family moves in together. Despite early friction between Rosaria and Ginetta, he soon gets married and starts a family of his own. After settling down, Vincenzo doesn't interact much with the Parondi brothers.

Simone, the second brother, struggles to adapt to urban life. He becomes attracted to a prostitute named Nadia (Annie Girardot), who urges him to pursue a career in boxing, which his mother also encourages, as a fast way to reach fame and wealth. Nadia, after initially pursuing Vincenzo only to find him happy in his new family life, turns her interest to Simone. Simone falls in love with Nadia and demands for more than a casual relationship, but she rejects him.

Rocco, the third brother, leaves to complete military service in Turin and meets Nadia, who has just been released from prison for prostitution conviction. His innocence and purity of heart ignites her to give up her way of life and enter an exclusive relationship with him. When Simone learns of this, he attacks Nadia and Rocco with a gang of friends and rapes Nadia to "teach Rocco a lesson". Rocco subsequently sacrifices his relationship with Nadia, telling her that he did not realize how much their relationship hurt his brother. Rocco insists that Nadia return to Simone, and she reluctantly complies.

Ciro, the second-youngest brother, perhaps by observing the trials of Simone and Rocco, decides to learn from their mistakes and mimic his brother Vincenzo. Unlike Vincenzo, Ciro still lives with his mother and participates in family matters. To that end, Ciro finds steady work in Milan at an automobile factory and becomes engaged to a local woman from a good family.

Somewhat in the manner of Dostoyevsky's Prince Myshkin character, Rocco often acts to preserve the well-being of family members at some cost to his own happiness. He continues a boxing career without enjoying it to provide for his family and he covers for Simone in a myriad of ways, such as returning an expensive brooch that Simone stole from Rocco's boss. After Simone loses the ability to compete as a boxer, because of his obsession with Nadia, his alcoholism, and dissolute lifestyle, Rocco agrees to sign a long term boxing contract in order to pay back money that Simone squandered and cannot repay. While Rocco fights and wins a championship bout, Simone kills Nadia in a jealous rage when she returns to prostitution and refuses to return to him.

As the family celebrates Rocco's victory, he shares an anecdote about masons, who, at the start of erecting a building, sacrifice a brick by throwing it into the shadow of the first passerby to ensure the structure will be sound and endure. Rocco's own habit of sacrificing his money and well-being can be likewise analogized, as attempts to preserve his family after their upheaval from country life. Simone arrives at the apartment and confesses to Nadia's murder. Despite his anguish, Rocco tries to protect Simone, but Ciro refuses to go along and leaves to turn Simone in to the police.

The youngest brother, Luca, does little but watch quietly in the background most of the time. By the end of the film he wants to return with Rocco to the south, despite spending the least time in southern Italy before the family moved to Milan. In one of the last scenes Ciro speaks to Luca outside his factory and tells him that Rocco won't return there, though he might, but will not find the south the same under the pressure of inevitable progress, and, though many people fear a changing world, he does not and believes that Luca will benefit from the changes.



During the spring of 1960, the original plan to shoot the murder scene at the end of the film in a large recreational area in Idroscalo was refused by civil servants of the provincial administration. This was due to an "inopportune resemblance to reality" of the scene to be shot to the recent murder of a young prostitute in the area. The film was later seized by police officers and lawyers after Cardinal Tardini's request that officials take action against "certain destructive films". They demanded that four scenes be cut or the film would be confiscated and the producer prosecuted; however, after negotiations, Lombardo agreed to darken the critical scenes within the film with filters; two of these darkened scenes were omitted entirely.[5]


Box officeEdit

The film was the 27th most popular film of the year in France.[6] It sold 10,220,365 tickets in Italy.

Critical responseEdit

The film critic for The New York Times, Bosley Crowther, gave the film a positive review and appreciated the direction of the film and acting. He wrote "A fine Italian film to stand alongside the American classic, The Grapes of Wrath, opened last night ...It is Luchino Visconti's Rocco and His Brothers (Rocco e i suoi fratelli), and it comes here garlanded with laurels that are quite as appropriate in this context as they are richly deserved...Signor Visconti has clearly conceived his film and that is what his brilliant handling of events and characters makes one feel. There's a blending of strong emotionalism and realism to such an extent that the margins of each become fuzzy and indistinguishable...Alain Delon as the sweet and loyal touchingly pliant and expressive, but it is Renato Salvatori...who fills the screen with the anguish of a tortured and stricken character. His raw and restless performance is overpowering and unforgettable...[and the] French actress Annie Girardot is likewise striking as the piteous prostitute..."[7]

The staff at Variety lauded the drama, and wrote "With all its faults, this is one of the top achievements of the year in Italy...Scripting shows numerous hands at work, yet all is pulled together by Visconti's dynamic and generally tasteful direction. Occasionally, as in the near-final revelation to the family of Simone's crime, the action gets out of hand and comes close to melodrama. Yet the impact of the main story line, aided by the sensitive, expertly guided playing of Alain Delon as Rocco, Annie Girardot as the prostitute, and Renato Salvatori as Simone, is great. Katina Paxinou at times is perfect, at others she is allowed to act too theatrically and off-key."[8]

Stanley Kauffmann of The New Republic wrote to him Rocco and His Brothers was "distended, sententious, ostentatiously frank, fundamentally trite, and thematically unsuccessful".[9]

When the film was released in DVD format, critic Glenn Erickson wrote "A major pleasure of Rocco and His Brothers is simply seeing its portrait of life in working-class Milan in 1960. Beautifully directed in the housing projects and streets of the city, this is a prime example of a film which will accrue historical interest simply because it shows so much of how people lived and what places looked like (now) 40 years ago."[10]

In 2008, Roger Ebert added Rocco and His Brothers to his Great Movies list.[11]


  • Venice Film Festival: FIPRESCI Prize, Luchino Visconti; Silver Lion, Luchino Visconti; 1960.
  • David di Donatello Awards, Italy; David, Best Production (Migliore Produzione), Goffredo Lombardo, tied with Tutti a casa (1960); 1961.
  • Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists: Silver Ribbon, Best Cinematography, B/W (Migliore Fotografia in Bianco e Nero), Giuseppe Rotunno; Best Director (Regista del Miglior Film), Luchino Visconti; Best Screenplay (Migliore Sceneggiatura): Pasquale Festa Campanile, Suso Cecchi d'Amico, Luchino Visconti, and Enrico Medioli; 1961.
  • Bodil Awards, Copenhagen, Denmark: Bodil, Best European Film (Bedste europæiske film), Luchino Visconti (director); 1962.
  • Sant Jordi Awards: Best Foreign Actress (Mejor Actriz Extranjera), Annie Girardot
  • Golden Globes, Italy: Best Film (Miglior Film), Luchino Visconti, 1961.
  • Golden Goblets, Italy: Best Director (Migliore Regista), Luchino Visconti, 1961.
  • Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists: Silver Ribbon, Best Producer (Migliore Produttore), Goffredo Lombardo; Best Original Story (Migliore Soggetto), Luchino Visconti, Vasco Pratolini, Suso Cecchi D'Amico; Best Supporting Actor (Migliore Attore Non Protagonista), Paolo Stoppa; Best Production Design (Migliore Scenografia), Mario Garbuglio; Best Costume Design (Migliori Costumi), Piero Tosi; 1961.
  • Venice Film Festival: Golden Lion, Luchino Visconti; 1960.
  • British Academy of Film and Television Arts: BAFTA Film Award, Best Film from any Source, Italy; Best Foreign Actress, Annie Girardot, Italy; 1962.
  • Sant Jordi Awards: Best Film of the Year (Mejor Película del Año), Luchino Visconti, 1962.[citation needed]


  1. ^ EUGENE ARCHER (Feb 18, 1961). "FILM DISTRIBUTOR PLANS EXPANSION: Astor Pictures Officials Will Outline New Program of Co-Production Deals". New York Times. p. 12.
  2. ^ "Box Office information for Rocco and His Brothers". Box Office Story.
  3. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-02-20. Retrieved 2015-02-20.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  4. ^ Henry Bacon, Visconti: Explorations of Beauty and Decay, Cambridge University Press, 1998, p.105
  5. ^ Henry Bacon, Visconti: Explorations of Beauty and Decay, Cambridge University Press, 1998, p. 102-103
  6. ^ French box office for 1961 at Box Office Story
  7. ^ Crowther, Bosley. The New York Times, film review, January 28, 1961. Last accessed: December 31, 2007.
  8. ^ Variety. Film review, September 6, 1960. Last accessed: December 31, 2007.
  9. ^ Kauffmann, Stanley (1966). A world on Film. Delta Books. p. 329.
  10. ^ Erikson, Eric. DVD Savant, DVD/film review, November 11, 2001. Last accessed: December 2, 2009.
  11. ^ Ebert, Roger. Rocco and His Brothers Movie Review, January 12, 2008. Last accessed: August 26, 2017.

External linksEdit