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Contemporary Italian Filmmaking

Contemporary Italian Filmmaking: Strategies of Subversion: Pirandello, Fellini, Scola, and the Directors of the New Generation

  • Book Info
    Contemporary Italian Filmmaking
    Book Description:

    Contemporary Italian Filmmaking is an innovative critique of Italian filmmaking in the aftermath of World War II - as it moves beyond traditional categories such as genre film and auteur cinema. Manuela Gieri demonstrates that Luigi Pirandello's revolutionary concept of humour was integral to the development of a counter-tradition in Italian filmmaking that she defines `humoristic'. She delineates a `Pirandellian genealogy' in Italian cinema, literature, and culture through her examination of the works of Federico Fellini, Ettore Scola, and many directors of the `new generation,' such as Nanni Moretti, Gabriele Salvatores, Maurizio Nichetti, and Giuseppe Tornatore.

    A celebrated figure of the theatrical world, Luigi Pirandello (1867-1936) is little known beyond Italy for his critical and theoretical writings on cinema and for his screenplays. Gieri brings to her reading of Pirandello's work the critical parameters offered by psychoanalysis, poststructuralism, and postmodernism to develop a syncretic and transcultural vision of the history of Italian cinema. She identifies two fundamental trends of development in this tradition: the `melodramatic imagination' and the `humoristic,' or comic, imagination. With her focus on the humoristic imagination, Gieri describes a `Pirandellian mode' derived from his revolutionary utterances on the cinema and narrative, and specifically, from his essay on humour, L'umorismo (On Humour, 1908). She traces a history of the Pirandellian mode in cinema and investigates its characteristics, demonstrating the original nature of Italian filmmaking that is particularly indebted to Pirandello's interpretation of humour.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-7335-9
    Subjects: Film Studies

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-1)
  4. Introduction: Why Pirandello and the Cinema?
    (pp. 3-11)

    To begin a critical investigation by posing from the outset a question that could undermine the validity and the very existence of the whole work might seem foolish, or at least not strictly orthodox. However, to confront the question ʹWhy Pirandello and the cinema?ʹ – that is, to consider the complex problem of the relationship between Pirandello and the ʹSeventh Artʹ – has become essential to an understanding of Luigi Pirandelloʹs place and role in the development of twentieth-century narrative and dramatic arts, and, more importantly here, in the birth and growth of the new medium in an Italian context....

  5. 1 He Lost It at the Movies: A Love-Hate Relationship of Over Thirty Years
    (pp. 13-29)

    The French film historian Pierre Leprohon opens hisLe cinéma italienby reminding us of the prominent role Italy played in the birth and growth of the cinema. He argues that Italy had nourished an interest in the mechanical reproduction of images since Leonardo da Vinciʹs conception and description of thecamera oscura, built for the first time by the Neapolitan Giambattista Delia Porta in the seventeenth century.¹ It was also in Rome where a German Jesuit, Father Athanasius Kircher, elaborated a model for the Magic Lantern, which he described in hisArs Magna Lucis et Umbrae.² As Leprohon observes,...

  6. 2 Pirandello and the Theory of the Cinema
    (pp. 30-81)

    Luigi Pirandelloʹs controversial interest in the moving pictures began as early as 1913 and lasted for over twenty years. As several scholars have repeatedly observed, Pirandello never actually developed an organic or coherent theory of the cinema. But he did formulate critical and theoretical statements constituting original and overlooked contributions to film theory and practice; he recognized the pivotal place cinema held in the development of twentieth-century poetics, and its inevitability as an immense instrument of human intellect.

    A study of Pirandelloʹs relationship with the motion pictures, however, cannot be diluted either to an analysis of his collaborations in film...

  7. [Illustrations]
    (pp. None)
  8. 3 The Origins of the Myths: From Pirandello to Fellini
    (pp. 82-119)

    I donʹt like: parties, festivals, tripe, interviews, round tables, requests for autographs, escargots, traveling, standing in line, mountains, ships, the radio turned on, music in restaurants (when I have to put up with it), wire broadcasting, jokes, soccer fans, the ballet, creches, gorgonzola, awards, oysters, hearing people talk about Brecht over and over, official dinners, toasts, speeches, being invited, requests for advice, Humphrey Bogart, quizzes, Magritte, being invited to art shows, theatre rehearsals, stenotype machines, tea, camomile, caviar, the preview of anything, citations, he men, films for the young, theatricality, temperament, questions,Pirandello,¹ crepes suzettes, beautiful countrysides, subscriptions, political films,...

  9. 4 Character and Discourse from Pirandello to Fellini: Defining a Countertradition in an Italian Context
    (pp. 120-156)

    The description of the parallelisms in the destinies of Federico Fellini and Luigi Pirandello is a necessary and yet merely a prefatory stage leading to the discussion of their respective roles in the creation and evolution of that countertradition in narrative and dramatic art variously defined as serio-comic, carnivalistic, and most importantly, ʹumoristica.ʹ As previously stated, at different times in Italian modern and contemporary history, both Pirandello and Fellini provided a thorough critique of existing interpretations of realism, and worked toward the creation of self-reflexive, ambivalent, and metadiscoursive artistic statements. Both artists worked in an area of penumbra between tragedy...

  10. [Illustrations]
    (pp. None)
  11. 5 Ettore Scola: A Cinematic and Social Metadiscourse
    (pp. 157-197)

    Laughter, then, is a flimsy substance, and shines like the meerschaum of the ocean in the sun. It signals the superficial revolutions in society and immediately reflects their fluid form. In Bergsonʹs vision, nothing is left to the philosopher but a pervasive sense of bitterness as he tastes such an evanescent substance. Yet this is only one interpretation of laughter, or rather, only one type of laughter.

    Generally speaking, in the nineteenth century several new interpretations of comedy evolved. Notwithstanding the many differences between Bergson and, say, Freud, a novel approach to the mechanisms of laughter developed, and became increasingly...

  12. [Illustrations]
    (pp. None)
  13. 6 The New Italian Cinema: Restoration or Subversion?
    (pp. 198-232)

    Until a few years ago, the film world was mourning the death of Italian cinema. It seemed that the long ʹcrisis of the seventiesʹ had left nothing but an irreparable void.¹ Then, in 1989, a ʹmiracleʹ occurred: Giuseppe TornatoreʹsNuovo Cinema Paradiso(Cinema Paradiso, 1988) received the grand prize of the jury at the Cannes Film Festival; it was nominated for and eventually won an Academy Award as best foreign film. The Italian film industry began to record a considerable increase in production, and Italian films received great recognition abroad. France, always attentive to Italian films, paid homage to the...

  14. Notes
    (pp. 233-268)
  15. Bibliography
    (pp. 269-290)
  16. Index
    (pp. 291-301)