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Italian Cinema

Italian Cinema

The Italian cinema, as in many European countries, began just months after the Lumiere brothers' invention saw went to commerce. Already in 1896 the Italians enjoyed first projected film in the country. The responsible was the entrepreneur Vittorio Calcina and the film was a short documentary called Umberto and Margherita of Savoy Walking in a Park.

In its early years, the Italian cinema arguments focused on the country's history, portraying heroic stories of characters like Julius Caesar, Cleopatra and Spartacus. Among the most important films of that era we can remark The Fall of Rome (1905) and Antony and Cleopatra (1913).

Luchino Visconti

Luchino Visconti

Drastic changes: from futurism to neo-realism

A change took place in 1910 when several literary works captivated new directors eager to give a new look to Italian cinema. A group of filmmakers, including Giacomo Balla and Filippo Marinetti decided to sign the Futurism Film Manifesto, creating a movement that was characterized by the manipulation of the sound and images speed in the editing process.

Years later, with the supported the fascist regime, a new trend began to establish its roots in the industry, leading ordinary people stories to the big screen. Those movies were filmed in poor neighborhoods, and sometimes were even featuring amateur actors. Among the most prominent directors was Luchino Visconti, who emphasized the movement with his film Ossessione, known as the first neorealist Italian film, and with Roberto Rossellini’s Rome, Open City (1945).

After the neorealism movement, other genres such as comedy began to be produced in the sixties. Perhaps the most important filmmaker of the comedy genre was Mario Monicelli with his films The Company, The Great War and Popular Romance.

The coming years aimed to promote a glance to history. Mythological stories such as Hercules and a number of biblical tales were brought to the big screen in what was called the ‘cinema of sandals and swords’. The influence also spread to other films that were placed while in modern times with impressive stories in which common men became heroes.

Modern times after the crisis

Along the eighties, Italian cinema witnessed a dramatic decline in the artistic quality of their productions; in contrast, other less artistic ambition films packed the theaters and enjoyed great popularity. According to critics, the few films that can stand out from that era, in terms of narrative and artistic quality, are Sergio Leone’s Once Upon a Time in America and Ermanno Olmi’s The Tree of Wooden Clogs, multiple award-winner including the Golden Lion at Venice, the Golden Palm at Cannes and César Award for Best Foreign Film.

In the nineties emerges the best known today figure of Italian cinema. The genius Roberto Benigni, actor and then director broke in the film world with an impressive yet creative and delightful performance in the Best Foreign Language Oscar winner: Life is Beautiful (1998). Years later he returned with another outstanding performance in The Tiger and the Snow.

Nanni Moretti has been another of the geniuses of Italian cinema in recent years. This brilliant director, actor, producer and screenwriter, has been characterized by its concern on social and political issues, criticizing the Silvio Berlusconi’s administration in films like The Only Country in the World (1994). Moretti has been awarded as Best Director and Best Film at the Cannes Film Festival for Dear Diary (1994) and The Son's Room (2001), respectively.

Perhaps the last great success of the Italian film has been Gomorra, a film directed by Matteo Garrone who adapted the Roberto Saviano’s work. Although many journalists criticized its remoteness from the book, the film achieved the Grand Prix Award at the Cannes Film Festival 2008 edition.

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Life is Beautiful

Life is Beautiful

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