Blu-ray Review – Three Brothers – Arrow Academy

Three Brothers

Director: Francesco Rosi 

Screenplay: Tonino Guerra, Francesco Rosi

Minutes: 113

Year: 1981

Score: 6.43

Release: Arrow Academy

Three Brothers plays on an immediately connectable theme. The death of a parent can almost be construed as a standard MacGuffin and I feel bad for saying this.


“A wonderful film that moves on waves of feeling. Francesco Rosi, who has one of the greatest compositional senses in the history of movies, keeps you in a state of emotional exaltation. A simple image has the kind of resonance that most directors never achieve.” (Pauline Kael, New Yorker)

Francesco Rosi established himself as one of the greatest chroniclers of Italy’s stormy postwar history with such riveting classics as Salvatore Giuliano, The Mattei Affair and Illustrious Corpses. Three Brothers (Tre fratelli) explores similarly knotty social and political territory through the seemingly straightforward story of three siblings returning to their native southern Italy to pay homage to their late mother. However, their various professions – a judge in Rome (Philippe Noiret), a spiritual counselor in Naples (Vittorio Mezzogiorno), a factory worker in Turin (Michele Placido) – have a profound effect on their response to this reunion.

Arrow Academy is proud to present this powerful, Oscar-nominated film in a brand new 2K restoration.

On a technical level I really enjoyed this film. Its strengths are very strong and hoists it onto its place in history. Also, I fell asleep, briefly, which definitely hurt the score.

It saddens me that I called dead parents “story beats” and that I nodded off during this well-written and beautifully shot film. Let’s look at that first idea, Whenever I come across any film with an ill or grieving parent as its key plot device I immediately think about Tokyo Story which can be a death knell for any movie. Ozu’s Tokyo Story is the perfect family drama marking it as an impossible goal.

It is not entirely fair to make these comparisons but sometimes they need to be made. If I am going to sit someone down and have them watch a family drama, knowing that they may be apprehensive of foreign language films, I will not choose Three Brothers as the for them. I would strongly consider it as a supplemental film but not the primary. Which leads into my second issue.

My key audience to share films is a notorious sleeper so I could save us both some time by just reading the synopsis to them and moving on to anything else. Without training I know that people spend more time reading the sub-titles than they do seeing the motion picture eliminating the film mastery. 

Three Brothers is a magnificently beautiful film and can be mounted on the wall of a museum looping over and over, especially the last few shots. On presentation alone this film is a good contender for anyone’s collections. It is a little lite on special features though but this film exists on its story and photography. I do intend on revisiting the film sometime, but I need to remember to nap ahead of time.

Special Features

  • 2K restoration from original film materials
  • High Definition (1080p) Blu-ray and Standard Definition DVD presentations
  • Original mono audio (uncompressed PCM on the Blu-ray)
  • Optional newly translated English subtitles
  • Archival interview with Francesco Rosi
  • Original theatrical trailer
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Matthew Griffin
  • FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Booklet featuring an essay by Professor Millicent Marcus, a 1981 interview with Rosi and a selection of contemporary reviews (first printing only)


Director: 7 – Cinematography: 9 –  Edit: 5 – Parity: 1 – Main performance: 7 – Else performance: 6 – Score: 6 – Sound: 5 – Story: 8 – Script: 9 – Effects: NA – Design: 6 – Costumes: 5 – Keeps interest: 6 – Lasting: 10