Tinto Brass and Caterina Varzi at the 2009 Venice Film Festival
26 March 1933
|Spouse(s)||Carla Cipriani (1957 - 2006; her death)|
|Awards||Venice Film Festival:
Best Italian Film
1971. For La Vacanza.
Award of Excellence
2012. For Brass' early works.
Giovanni Brass (born 26 March 1933), better known as Tinto Brass, is an Italian filmmaker. In the 1960s and 1970s, he directed many critically acclaimed avant-garde films of various genres. Today, he is mainly known for his later work in the erotic genre, with films such as Caligula, Così fan tutte (released under the English title All Ladies Do It), Paprika, Monella (Frivolous Lola) and Trasgredire.
In the 1960s and 1970s, Brass was considered a promising experimental and avant-garde director, and his debut film Who Works Is Lost got very favorable reviews after screening at Venice Film Festival 1963. In 1964, he was comissioned by Umberto Eco to create two short films experimenting with visual language for the 13th Triennale di Milano - Tempo Libero and Tempo Lavorativo. Throughout the 1960s and early 1970s, Brass directed films in many genres, be they western (Yankee) or crime (Col cuore in gola), all using a very experimental editing- and camera-style. In 1968, Paramount Pictures offered Brass the job to direct A Clockwork Orange, which didn't happen due to scheduling conflicts. In an article about the filming of Dropout from 1970, he was called the "Antonioni of the 70s". His early period has sometimes be referred to as "rebellios [sic], anarchistic and experimental".
L'urlo was shown in competiton at Berlin Film Festival 1970. La Vacanza, starring Vanessa Redgrave and Franco Nero won the price of the film critics for the best Italian film at 1971 Venice Film Festival. In 1972, Brass was a member of the jury at the 22nd Berlin International Film Festival.
After Salon Kitty and Caligula, the style of his films gradually changed towards erotic films. Caligula was originally supposed to be a satire on power instead of an erotic film, but the producers changed and re-edited the film entirely without Brass' consent, removing many political and comical scenes, and re-shooting pornographic ones, to make the film a pornographic drama. The director demanded that his name be stricken from the credits, and he is only credited for "Principal Photography". Despite this, the film remains his most widely viewed work (and the highest-grossing Italian film released in the United States). Other notable works of Brass' later period include The Key and Senso '45. Well into his seventies, he continued to make films.
Brass' films since his early works follow an impressionistic style – they tend not to show immense landscapes, but bits and pieces of the scenery and peripheral characters and objects through pans and zooms, thus imitating how the viewer might see the events if they were actually present. This also gives the films an extraordinarily rapid pace. He often uses a television-like multicam method of shooting, with at least three cameras running at once, each focusing on something different.
There are many other directorial trademarks throughout his films. From 1976's Salon Kitty onwards, mirrors play a large part in the set design. Sometimes he even goes as far as to begin a scene with a mirror shot, then pan over to the action being reflected, giving a disorienting feeling. His erotic films – especially The Key, Miranda and All Ladies Do It – often accentuate women's ample buttocks and pubic hair as well as underarm hair, almost to the point of fetishizing those particular physical features.
Brass' films in the 1980s and early 1990s had mainly been adaptations of famous literary works usually in the erotic genre, namely The Key (La chiave), The Mistress of the Inn (Miranda), the novel Le lettere da Capri by Mario Soldati (Capriccio), the novel Snack Bar Budapest by Marco Lodoli and Silvia Bre (eponymous), Fanny Hill (Paprika), and the novel L'uomo che guarda by Alberto Moravia (The Voyeur), while 2002 film Senso '45 is an adaptation of Senso, previously filmed by Luchino Visconti.
Many of Brass' works qualify as period drama set during World War II (Salon Kitty and Senso '45, set in Berlin and Asolo respectively), in postbellum Italy (Miranda and Capriccio), and in 1950s Italy (Paprika and Monella).
Brass almost always works in a cameo for his friend Osiride Pevarello and himself as well. He was also featured as the presenter in the direct-to-video erotic short films compilation Tinto Brass presenta Corti Circuiti Erotici released in four volumes in 1999.
From 1957 until her death in 2006, Brass was married to Carla Cipriani ("Tinta"), the daughter of Harry's Bar founder Giuseppe Cipriani, who managed the restaurant Locanda Cipriani at Lido and also collaborated as a screenwriter in Brass's films. The couple had a daughter, Beatrice and a son, Bonifacio.
In 2012, Hollywood Reel Independent Film Festival did a retrospective on Brass' early 1960s and 1970s films, screening newly restored versions. The restorations were done in collaboration with Brass by German writer/director Alexander Tuschinski, who in recent years researched Tinto Brass' 1960s/1970s works and has been called "the foremost scholastic authority on Tinto Brass (...) in the world today".
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