Blu-ray Review: Fascinating Satire of ‘Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion’

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Average: 5 (1 vote)

Elio Petri’s “Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion,” winner of the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film and Grand Prize at the 1970 Cannes Film Festival, has been inducted into the Criterion Collection, the most important series of Blu-ray releases on the market. This is such a unique, bizarre film, one that I wasn’t familiar with until this release, which continues to prove that Criterion isn’t just a great company for known classics like Robert Altman’s “Nashville” but some films that may have fallen through the cracks of cinema history as well. Blu-ray rating: 4.0/5.0
Rating: 4.0/5.0

While it is essentially a police procedural, Petri’s film is, to this viewer, primarily a satire of power gone awry. In it, a detective murders his mistress and then plants the evidence needed to convict him. We watch as the power structure that should put this guy away makes mistake after mistake and Petri’s film builds up a wonderful momentum. It is fascinating, from its quirky ’70s score (from the great Ennio Morricone) to its Kafka-esque tones of the idiocy of power.

The Criterion Collection release is a beauty with a great HD transfer and interesting special features. The company released a number of editions this holiday season for the cinephile in your family. This is one of the best.

Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion was released on Blu-ray on December 3, 2013
Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion was released on Blu-ray on December 3, 2013
Photo credit: Courtesy of the Criterion Collection

The provocative Italian filmmaker Elio Petri’s most internationally acclaimed work is this remarkable, visceral, Oscar-winning thriller. Petri maintains a tricky balance between absurdity and realism in telling the Kafkaesque tale of a Roman police inspector (A Fistful of Dollars’s Gian Maria Volonte, in a commanding performance) investigating a heinous crime-which he committed himself. Both a penetrating character study and a disturbing commentary on the draconian crackdowns by the Italian government in the late 1960s and early ’70s, Petri’s kinetic portrait of surreal bureaucracy is a perversely pleasurable rendering of controlled chaos.

Special Features:
o New 4K digital film restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
o Archival interview with director Elio Petri, conducted by critic and filmmaker Alexandre Astruc
o “Elio Petri: Notes About a Filmmaker”
o New interview with film scholar Camilla Zamboni
o “Investigation of a Citizen Named Volonte”
o “Music in His Blood”
o Trailers
o New English subtitle translation

“Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion” stars Gian Maria Volonte and was written and directed by Elio Petri. It was released on Criterion Collection Blu-ray combo pack on December 3, 2013. content director Brian Tallerico

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