Naples '44

Naples '44

DVD - 2018
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In 1943, a young British officer, Norman Lewis, entered a war-torn Naples with the American Fifth Army. Lewis began writing in his notepad everything that happened to him during his one-year stay, observing the complex social cauldron of a city that contrived every day the most incredible ways of fighting to survive. These notes turned into his masterpiece, a memoir.
Publisher: New York, NY : First Run Features, [2018]
Branch Call Number: 940.54814 NAPLES
Characteristics: 1 videodisc (85 min.) : sound, color ; 4 3/4 in
digital,optical
video file,DVD video

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j
jimg2000
Jul 27, 2018

Quotes from the beginning -- entire script is quotable:

Volunteers from the Armed Forces in World War II found to possess linguistic qualifications were frequently directed into the Intelligence Corps. At the end of this fortnight, trainees considered to have shown promise were interviewed by the selection officer, who went through a pretence of discussing with them their future. What the trainee did not realise was that, however encouraging the report on the major's desk, his fate had been instantly settled from the moment of the officer's first quick scrutiny of his face. The selection officer believed that blue was the colour of truth. To the blue-eyed trainees, therefore, went the responsible and sometimes glamorous jobs, while the rest were tipped into the dustbin of what was then called the Field Security Police.

j
jimg2000
Jul 27, 2018

The escape from this predicament was a posting to an overseas section, employed primarily as linguists, to bridge the gap between the military and the civilian population.
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On the 1st of September 1943, I was posted to 312 Field Security Service, who had been temporarily attached to headquarters staff of the American Fifth Army. On the 5th of September, we sailed in the Duchess of Bedford to join the invasion convoy bound for Salerno. This was the greatest invasion in this war so far, probably the greatest in human history. The sea was crowded to the horizon with uncountable ships, but we were as lost and ineffective as babes in the wood. No-one knew where the enemy was, but the bodies on the beach at least proved he existed.

j
jimg2000
Jul 27, 2018

For a while, it didn't matter whether you were in the infantry, the air forces or the navy. The fire was hot all around. We could hear big navy guns and the anti-aircraft guns and the roaring of the dogfighters out at sea.
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At about 11 o'clock, an excited American officer dashed up in a Jeep. We'd been issued with a Webley pistol and five rounds of ammunition apiece. Most of us had never fired a gun. With these weapons, we were ordered to assist in the defence of army headquarters against the Mark V and Tiger tanks that were now rolling towards us. What this officer did not tell us was that he and the rest of the officers were quietly pulling out and abandoning their men.

j
jimg2000
Jul 27, 2018

We crouched in our slit trench under the pink fluttering leaves of the olives, and watched the fires come closer and the night slowly pass. We set out to explore a little of our immediate environment. As the sun began to sink splendidly into the sea at our back, we wandered at random through this wood, full of chirping birds, and suddenly found ourselves at the wood's edge. We looked out into an open space on a scene of unearthly enchantment. A few hundred yards away, stood in a row, the three perfect temples of Paestum - pink and glowing and glorious in the sun's last rays. It came as an illumination - one of the great experiences of life.

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c
COURIER3
Sep 24, 2018

What a tragedy for the Italian civilians. Nazis tried to destroy municipalities. It was a living hell. All this and a volcano eruption.

j
jimg2000
Jul 27, 2018

As Cumberbatch read from the poetic script taken from the memoir of author Norman Lewis who was a British Intelligent officer during WWII, relevant film clips from iconic war dramas, particularly from Mike Nichols' 1970 "Catch-22," Roberto Rossellini's 1946 "Paisan Italian: Paisà," and Liliana Cavani's 1981 "The Skin (Italian: La pelle)." Next to reading the memoir, this film covered just about all, i.e. the misery of war and peace is not much easier, as quoted near the end on the near term aftermath of peace in 1944:

"And what is the prize that is to be eventually won? The rebirth of democracy. The glorious prospect of being able one day to choose their rulers from a list of powerful men, most of whose corruptions are generally known and accepted with weary resignation. The days of Benito Mussolini must seem like a lost paradise compared with this."

w
winston16
Jun 18, 2018

What a strange but compelling movie. Based on the true memoirs of a British officer stationed in Naples towards the end of WW2, this movie uses archival footage plus scenes from Italian films of the era to illustrate the officer's comments. Benedict Cumberbatch narrates and his dulcet, oh-so-British tone seems in stark contrast to the horrors depicted. Sordidness, starvation, immorality, the plethora of wartime cruelties abound--but then the camera goes to present day Naples with someone who is either the memoir's author or an actor depicting him and we see the beauty of the city today. I'm a tad squeamish so parts of the film were hard to watch, but it's a story that will stay with me. I did find myself wondering why this movie got made--it's seems like an outlier kind of story, but maybe that's the reason.

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