Adriano Olivetti: The Strength of a Dream AKA Adriano Olivetti: La forza di un sogno
R2 - United Kingdom - Odyssey
Review written by and copyright: Matthew Crossman (24th May 2015).
The Film

This production originally aired in Italy as a two part mini series on consecutive nights in October 2013. Adriano Olivetti (Luca Zingaretti) is an entrepreneur not too dissimilar to Oscar Schindler, the protagonist of Steven Spielberg’s ‘Schindler’s List’. For the most part the story is set during the second World War. The story follows Olivetti as his typewriter business, which was started by his Father before him, goes from strength to strength. Being an idealist and a humanitarian Olivetti provides jobs, houses and above average wages for his workers. Whilst popular with his staff this makes him unpopular with other businesses in his industry. Olivetti’s business is the subject of a take over bid by a rival company, a take over that Olivetti resists. Earlier in the film Olivetti comes to the aide of Karen Bates (Stefania Rocca) a Captain in the army who had been in contact with the partisans in Italy. Olivetti shields her from the Nazis but his good deed is to come back and haunt him when Karen returns as a friend but is not quite what she seems to be.

I knew little of Adriano Olivetti before watching this film and it intrigued me enough to do some research on Olivetti’s life. Having extensively researched Adriano Olivetti is appears to me that that the director Michele Soavi has taken many artistic liabilities with the subject material. Whilst much of the film is true the fanciful storylines regarding spies and the CIA are injected into the story to spice up a rather dull life story about a successful business man. The film suggests that Olivetti was spied upon by other businessmen, the CIA and the Nazis because he was a socialist. The truth of the matter would appear to be that Olivetti was indeed watched closely but only by jealous company owners in the same field and only because he was very good at what he did. Adriano Olivetti was a national hero of sorts but not for the reasons presented here. He did care about his workers, he did provide many benefits for them that they would not have had elsewhere, and he was a business genius but these alone do not make an interesting mini series. In truth the artistic licence used by Soavi is still not enough to stop this mini series from being over long and a tad boring. The plot unfolds at a snail’s pace, especially the first episode, as the story is set up. The lack of pace ensures that any suspense peters out. Olivetti was a heroic figure to many, especially in Italy, but this film is not the high testimony many will have wanted for him.

The cast perform well, especially Zingaretti as Olivetti, who is on screen the most. Michele Soavi’s direction is uninspiring and quite a departure from what most UK viewers will know him from. During the 1990’s Soavi came to prominence through series of horror films, most notably ‘Stage Fright’ and ‘Cemetery Man’. Any fans of his films from that period will be sorely disappointed by this offering.

Video

The picture is presented at a ratio of 1.78:1 [anamorphic]. The picture is quite soft, as you would no doubt expect as it originated on the Italian television channel RAI. The subtitles are presented about a third of the way up the screen and I found them quite intrusive. They are presented in a white font with a black, blocky surround. For Italian speakers these can be turned off. There are twelve chapter breaks on each disc.

Audio

The only option is Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo. The audio is clear enough and dialogue is reasonably crisp. It’s a fairly uninspiring audio mix in keeping with the rest of the disc.

Extras

There are no extras of any kind presented on either disc.

Overall

Whilst I appreciate that Adriano Olivetti was a great man and humanitarian and seen as something of a hero in his native Italy his life story is not the most engaging. The production staff have performed well in so much that as a period drama it works but they have fairly little to go on. I imagine that anyone of an Italian persuasion would get much more out of the mini series than I would but even with the added ‘spice’ of the CIA and Nazis this is a fairly routine production.

The Film: D+ Video: C- Audio: C- Extras: F Overall: D+

 


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