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Italian Cinema.docx

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University of Waterloo
Italian Studies

Italian Cinema Tuesday, March 12, 2013 10:24 AM The History of Italian Cinema  Precedents o Image-watching by mechanical means dates to 18th century Venice o Domenica Tiepolo's two frescoes, entitled Il mondo nuovo (The New World) show lantern device; first example of visual stimulation via mechanical means Peep Show Boxes  o People could look into a little box and they could watch a little mini version of the play  Silent Films o Filoteo Alberini (1865- 1937), inventor of Albertini Kinetograph  Improved by Thomas Edition; he was the first American to provide a 2 sec film o 1st commerical film: King Umberto and Margherita of Savoy Strolling in the Park (1896); director Vittorio Calcina (1847-1916) o Silent films = step beyond still photography o Lumiere brothers of France: inventors of cinema (1895)  Early film culture o Illiterate population o People-watching opportunity o Major movie theatres opened after 1905; prior, was cinema ambulante (itinerant cinema)  Itinerant cinema: when people would move around by train or wagon and go city to city to show them films  It was made for the poor so they could see the rich people in person o Fixed theatres = more sophisticated entertainment o 1906: Turin- 9 theatres, Milan-7, Rome- 23, and Naples- 25 o 1905: 1st feature film, The Taking of Rome; step toward more complex films  It was a big step forward because it was a longer film  Subject: breaching of Rome's Porta Pia by Italian troops, 1870=1870 annexation of Rome to Italian state  Plays civic function  Sets stage for historical epic  Lavish sets and large crowd scenes  Silent Film genre: Historical epic (most popular films) o Topics: Roman epics, Italy's literary classics, melodramas from verismo  Verismo: kind of narrative and naturalistic types of portraits o Features: lavish sets, large crows scenes o Popular in U.S. (b/c of George Kleine)  From the US and paid a fee to export films from Italy o Most successful: Pastrone's Cabiria (1914); historical accuracy; Gabriele D'Annunzio wrote intertitles  People would want to go see his film because of the name attached to it  Pastrone's Cabriria o Innovations:  Invention of dolly for moving between sets  Long shot to close-up for sense of space  More close-ups = emphasis on facial expressions and gestures  Superimpositions for dream sequences  Tinting of actors' hands  Artificial lighting o Storyline:  Epic battle between Rome and Carthage + Petrarch's Africa (2nd Punic War and love story)  Relationship between Cabiria (to be sacrificed to Carthaginian gods) and Fulvius Axilla (Roman spy, patrician)  Comtemporary significance: Italy victorious over Turkey (got Libya)  Divismo o Post WWI o =star system o Female actors = divas, meaning 'goddnesses' -> femme fatale o Female spectators wanted to identify with divas o Divas = seductive, so did not conform to 'acceptable' female behaviour-> subjected to punishment/suffering on-screen to re-establish 'order'  They were usually killed on set or tortured to show that woman should not be acting this way  Fascism in Italian Cinema o Fascism < Lat. Fasce (bundles), symbol of Roman authority o 1922: King of Italy asks Mussolini to replace current prime minister; begins 21 year dictatorship  The King had no idea that Mussolini would become a dictatorship and that it would last that long Mussolini had his roots as a socialist which is the opposite end of how he dictated   He was expelled from the party because of the newspaper he started  Became a fascist (far right); wanted an end to strike which was very prevalent in Italy  Fought in WWI at the front lines o Creation of government orgs to control society and eliminate anti-fascists (OVRA: secret police service) o Government policy: autonomy o Mussolini sees film industry as "the most powerful weapon" i.e. Propaganda o Documentary popular but also newsreels o 1926: Mussolini forms LUCE- state- sponsored documentary consortium making newsreels mandatory in movie theatres  Newreels would be projected because of Mussolini; before the movie would start  Through the reels, they would show what the regime was doing but only the good o Requirement of directors: highlight 'acceptable' gender roles on screen - men= virile, happy to fight fo
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