After Neorealism: Italian Filmmakers and Their Films; Essays and Interviews

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Italian Southern Gothic #3: Acid Neorealism | NERO Editions

His comic strips of unmade films provide an intriguing account of his activity in the last years of his life. The films of Federico Fellini deal equally with truth-tellers and pretenders, realists and fabulists. Federico Fellini is one of the most beloved and revered filmmakers of the twentieth century, having entertained audiences worldwide with his ability to breathe life into imagery normally confined to human memory and emotion.

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Fellini, winner of four Oscars for Best Foreign Language Film, kept notebooks filled with unique sketches and notes from his dreams from the s onward. This collection delves into his cinematic genius as it is captured in widely detailed caricatures and personal writings. His sketches focus on the profound struggle of the soul and are tinged with humor, empathy, and insight. Now, more than forty years later, film critic and Fellini confidant Tullio Kezich has written the work by which all other biographies of the filmmaker are sure to be measured.


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A great lover of women and a meticulous observer of dreams, Fellini, perhaps more than any other director of the twentieth century, created films that embodied a thoroughly modern sensibility, eschewing traditional narrative along with religious and moral precepts. His is an art of delicate pathos, of episodic films that directly address the intersection of reality, fantasy, and desire that exists as a product of mid-century Italy—a country reeling from a Fascist regime as it struggled with an outmoded Catholic national identity.

As Kezich reveals, the dilemmas Fellini presents in his movies reflect not only his personal battles but those of Italian society. The result is a book that explores both the machinations of cinema and the man who most grandly embraced the full spectrum of its possibilities, leaving his indelible mark on it forever. Fellini on Fellini is a fascinating collection of his articles, interviews, essays, reminiscences, and table talk, carefully arranged to chart the progress of his life and work.

Here, Fellini reveals, as no one else can, a rich digest of his brilliant and controversial career. Federico Fellini, the master of the Italian art film, was an active visual artist for whom drawing was integral to the creative process. Yes, Giallo originates from Gothic, but it is also infused with elements historically associated with melodrama: violence, femme fatales, the woman portrayed as both sexual temptress and holy virgin… The turning point was the introduction of the supernatural, which allowed films to explore territories that would otherwise be impossible to explore due to censorship i.

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Another Giallo fundamental feature is its visual style, a pop delirium filled with psychedelic paraphernalia. Wardh and All the Colors of the Dark The erotic-sensual element in Giallo cinema is central, clearly evoking the distorted nature of Catholic and Italian culture in regard to sex. Sometimes, Giallo films really look like an update of those morbid stories narrated by anthropologist Ernesto De Martino in essays like South and Magic … As a result of the post cultural climate, the Giallo constantly deals with the theme of sexual emancipation as opposed to the Catholic legacy.

In the former, we find a killer in a clinic full of nymphomaniacs and lesbians; in the latter, a maniac who kills unfaithful women in a Sicilian town, and the most significant aspect is exactly that southern setting which alludes to a whole unsaid. The strength of the film is primarily how it explores the working class milieu of an Italian metropolis, where hidden and irrational desires are latent under the surface. Arcana is brimming with symbols and cues: just think about the oedipal if not incestuous relationship between the two main characters, mother and son, evoking the idea of a pre-modern matriarchal society.

Another key feature of Arcana , is how director Giulio Questi contrasts the image of an anguished Milan with that of a magical and luminous Mezzogiorno with all its ancient ceremonies, peasant rites and so on: we see a donkey on top of a bell tower, an old man playing Taranta, submerged in mysterious atmospheres etc. Arcana is also a film with an experimental structure, and this is largely merit of screenwriter and editor Kim Arcalli.

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Arcalli is also the occult director of one of the most lysergic films of Italian cinema: Red Hot Shot by Piero Zuffi , a sort of hard-boiled Noir with a serial killer portrayed by experimental theatre actor Carmelo Bene, accompanied by one of the greatest scores by Piero Piccioni. First of all, I would mention the extraordinary Il Demonio by Brunello Rondi : at the time it was released, the film was reviled and misunderstood. It definitely is a controversial film, but its audiovisual power is immense, both in photography and sound thanks to the electronic soundtrack courtesy of, again, Piero Piccioni.


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It takes place in a very different Italy than the usual one, and director Rondi adopts a quasi-documentary style to depict religious rites which contaminate Catholicism with superstitions and pagan beliefs. Il Demonio tells the story of a girl in a village in the South who is thought to be possessed, due to her all-consuming passion for a man. Rondi actually collaborated with Ernesto De Martino to give his film a credible anthropological layer, and managed to mediate among the most disparate influences, from Giovanni Verga the godfather of Verismo to Brecht. The protagonist, Purificata literally Purified is a sexually extrovert woman, and therefore inherently diabolical according to the village common sense.

Still, I would like to mention another title, The Night of the Devils by Giorgio Ferroni , although more of a horror movie and set in the North, precisely at the Slovenian border.

A Short History of Italian Horror

Here, a business traveler comes across a family of farmers who will turn out to be living dead: the idea is that they already are ghosts of a world that no longer exists, or if you prefer the remains of a peasant civilization wiped out by turmoil. Adherence to reality produces unusual effects, precisely because of the type of reality that is represented often without commentary.

The result is a weird, surreal documentary, showing the same occult adoration narrated in movies like Il Demonio : Christian icons worshipped as Pagan idols.

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