All entries for February 2008

February 24, 2008

The Cinematographers of Neorealism and Beyond

The Cinematographers of Neorealism and Beyond

Under construction


For an introduction to neorealism please follow the link. More specific films are linked from the text where appropriate.  


In his most recent edition to Visconti (200 3rd Ed ) Geoffrey Nowell-Smith makes a point of noting that his cinematic understanding has changed considerably since the first edition was written. He points out that the role of the cinematographer used not to have much importance with critics and reviewers. Often with critics the notion of the 'auteur' was commensurate with the idea of the great artist who turned up with a singular vision and told everybody else what to do to get it. This was always a romanticised notion of the great artist at best and certainly doesn't reflect the workings of early cultural and creative industries such as the workshops of the great Renaissance painters for example. The notion of auteur as somebody who is more of a team-leader with a creative vision which is formed out of an ongoing dialogical process usually with a team of chosen people opens up the issue of why were certain people chosen by the director and allows a viewer to assess more effectively how that person may have influenced the final outcome. The 'look' of a film or the 'feel' of a film often has a lot to do with the cinematographer and the relationship built up between her/ him and the director. This has probably recognised more in terms of the well known cinematographers for the key films of the French New Wave and in the UK- the name of Walter Lassally is a recognised part of the British New Wave - than it has been in Italian neorealism. Shiel makes brief reference to this in his recent work Rebuliding the Cinematic City (2006), and critics such as Bacon (1998) note the that there were three cinematographers working on Senso because G. R. Aldo died in a car crash. This leads to a very brief discussion about the look of the film. There is no reference in the index of Bondanella (2003) to any of the leading cinematographers nor is there in Marcus 1986. This absence at the heart of many of the leading works of neorealism and Italian cinema is important. This brief  entry is small attempt to redress the balance and also point the way to an area of film studies which needs more consistent attention. 

Cinematographers of Neorealism and Beyond 

The listings are designed to emphasise where particular cinematographers worked with canonical Italian directors who were originally associated with neorealism or in the case of Lina Wertmuller became a member of the newer generation of directors who have been classified as 'arthouse'. Full listings can be accessed at the websites in the webliography.

G. R. Aldo  

Key Italian films are in bold 

  • 1947 La terra trema (Visconti)
  • 1950 Miracolo a Milano (Miracle in Milan) (De Sica)
  • 1952  Umberto D (De Sica)
  • 1953 Stazione Termini (Indiscretion of an American Wife) (De Sica)
  • 1954 Senso (Visconti)

As a stills photographer Aldo also worked with directors such as Cocteau on Beauty and the Beast (See IMDB)

Publications on Aldo

Cinema Nuovo (Turin), 1 December 1953

Bianco e Nero (Rome), December 1953

Otello Martelli

1944    Ultimo amore (Luigi Chiarini)

1945      Paisà/Paisan (Roberto Rossellini) 6 seg; 125m & 134m

1946       Il duomo di Milano (Alessandro Blasetti)

1946       Caccia tragica/The Tragic Hunt/The Tragic Pursuit (Giuseppe De Santis)

1948      Riso amaro/Bitter Rice (Giuseppe De Santis)

1949      Stromboli [, terra di Dio] (Roberto Rossellini)

1950      Luci del varietà/Lights of Variety/Variety Lights (Alberto Lattuada & Federico Fellini)

1950      Francesco, giullare di Dio/The Flowers of St. Francis/Francis, God's Jester (Roberto Rossellini)

1951      Anna (Alberto Lattuada)

1952       Roma ore 11/Rome 11:00 (Giuseppe De Santis)

1952      Siamo donne/We, the Women/Of Life and Love (seg 'Emma Danieli e Anna Amendola' dir by Alfredo Guarini & 'Il pollo/Ingrid Bergman' dir by Roberto Rossellini)

1952      I vitelloni/The Young and the Passionate (Federico Fellini)

1953      Un marito per Anna Zaccheo/A Husband for Anna (Giuseppe De Santis)

1953      La strada (Federico Fellini)

1954      Giorni d'amore/Days of Love (Giuseppe De Santis)

1954    L'oro di Napoli/The Gold of Naples (Vittorio De Sica)


1955      Il bidone/The Swindle/The Swindlers (Federico Fellini)

1955      La fortuna di essere donna/Lucky to Be a Woman/What a Woman! (Alessandro Blasetti)

1956       Guendalina (Alberto Lattuada)

Giuseppe Rotunno 

  • 1942 L'uomo dalla croce/The Man with the Cross (Roberto Rossellini)
  • 1957 Le notti bianche/White Nights (Luchino Visconti)
  • 1958 Anna di Brooklyn/Anna of Brooklyn/Fast and Sexy (Vittorio De Sica & Carlo Lastricati)
  • 1960 Rocco e i suoi fratelli/Rocco and His Brothers (Luchino Visconti) b&w
  • 1961  Boccaccio '70 [seg 'Il lavoro/The Job' dir by Luchino Visconti] c; 4 seg; other ph: Otello Martelli & Armando Nannuzzi
  • 1962  Il gattopardo/The Leopard (Luchino Visconti)
  • 1963 Ieri, oggi, domani/Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow (Vittorio De Sica)
  • 1966 Le streghe/The Witches (seg 'Le strega bruciata viva' dir by Luchino Visconti, 'Una sera come le altre' dir by Vittorio De Sica & 'La terra vista dalla luna' dir by Pier Paolo Pasolini)
  • 1967 Lo straniero/The Stranger (Luchino Visconti)
  • 1967  Histoires extraordinaires/Spirits of the Dead/Tales of Mystery and Imagination (seg 'Toby Dammit' dir by Federico Fellini)
  • 1968    Fellini Satyricon (Federico Fellini)
  • 1969    I girasoli/Sunflower (Vittorio De Sica)
  • 1971    Fellini's Roma (Federico Fellini)
  • 1972    Film d'amore e d'anarchia, ovvero 'stamattina alle 10 in Via dei Fiori, nella nota casa di tolleranza...'/ and Anarchy (Lina Wertmüller)
  • 1973    Amarcord [Federico Fellini]
  • 1973    Tutto a posto e niente in ordine/All Screwed Up/Everything Ready, Nothing Works (Lina Wertmüller)

Aldo Tonti

  • (1959) India Bhumi 
  • 1959)"India vista da Rossellini, L'" (mini) TV mini-series
  • (1958)Tempesta, La
  • (1957) Notti di Cabiria, Le (Cabiria)
  • 1954) Dov'è la libertà...?  (Where Is Freedom?)
  • (1953)Anni facili  (Easy Years )
  • (1953) Lupa, La
  • (1952)Europa '51
  • (1949)Mulino del Po, Il  (The Mill on the Po
  • (1948) Senza pietà  (Without Pity)
  • (1948)Amore, L'  (segment "Miracolo, Il")
  • (1943)Ossessione


G. R. Aldo

Otello Martelli

Giuseppe Rotunno

February 20, 2008

Germany Year Zero, 1947. Directed by Roberto Rossellini

Germany Year Zero, 1947. Directed by Roberto Rossellini

Under Construction

Wagsataff on Neorealism


I have opened the page as the webliography might well be useful to visitors. An article on the film will come along in due course. However I wish to take a look at the new book on Italian Neorealism by Wagstaff first as this looks as though it will be a very valauble contribution to scholarship on the period.  


Best of 'Google Trawl' carried out 20 / 02 / 08 down to page 27. 

Wikipedia Entry  

BBC Four Germany Year Zero

Rai International Entry Germany Year Zero  

Senses of Cinema entry on Germany Year Zero

Films de France entry Germany Year Zero

German Films Entry on Germany Year Zero

Denis Grunes Blog on Germany Year Zero  

Bazin at Work - Section on Germany Year Zero on Google book search

Wellington Film Society entry on GermanyYear Zero

Explanation of Year Zero from Reinventing Germany German  Political Development Since 1945


Rossellini, Roberto. The War Trilogy. Open City. Paisan. Germany-Year Zero. Edited and with an Introduction By Stefano Roncoroni. Translated from the Italian By Judith Green.
NY: Grossman, 1973. 

André Bazin, "In Defense of Rossellini," a letter to Guido Aristarco, editor-in-chief of Cinema Nuovo, reprinted in What Is Cinema? vol.2, ed. and trans. Hugh Gray (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1971), 97

Rossellini describes his approach to editing in an interview with Fereydoun Hoveyda and Jacques Rivette published in Cahiers du Cinéma 94 (April 1959): 213. Bazin provides an effective description of the consequences of this style of cutting: "The mind has to leap from one event to the other as one leaps from stone to stone in crossing a river. It may happen that one's foot hesitates between two rocks, or that one misses one's footing and slips. The mind does likewise." (35)

Rossellini interviewed by Eric Rohmer and François Truffaut in Cahiers du Cinéma 37 (July 1954)

David Forgacs, Sarah Lutton and Geoffrey Nowell-Smith. 2001. Roberto Rossellini: Magician of the Real.London: BFI

Wagstaff Christopher. 2008 Italian Neorealist Cinema: An Aesthetic Approach. Toronto:
University of Toronto Press  

February 18, 2008

Rome: Open City. 1945. Dir Roberto Rossellini

Rome: Open City. 1945. Dir Roberto Rossellini

Under Construction

Roma città aperta (Open City) is widely regarded as the most important film in Italian cinema history...At the time it was first shown, the film must have seemed utterly different from anything that had gone before. when it is looked at more closely, however, what is most striking is its overwhelming similarity to previous cinema. (Brunette, Peter; 1996 p 41) 

Return to Roberto Rossellini Page

As a visual depiction of the divided city, the film has at once the value of a testimony and the status of a rhetorical construction. It is a testimony because, for all its artifice - actors, scripted performances, built sets - it records on celluloid how parts of Rome looked at the end of the Second World War. Including sites of memorable events. (Forgacs in Gottlieb 2004 p 107)

The one opposition on which Rome Open City does not insist, however is that between realism and melodrama....Instead of trying to rescue the authentic visual feel of the film from its story, realism from melodrama , it is better to see how the latter enabled the former....Rome Open City's counter-Hollywood offered up the lived experience of the wartime Resistance and the Popular Front . (Rogin, M.P. in Gottlieb 2004 pp132-133)

Open City is a labyrinth of clichés. Foremost amongst these clichés is the presentation of a narrative "plot" that dramatises the struggle against the  conspiratorial powers of Nazism and Fascism... In its investigation of the criminal acts of the Nazis and the Facsists, draws on melodramatic clichés in relation to its construction of character and plot, uses of misé en scene, and dialogue. These clichés involve representations of femininity and masculinity in the context of perverse sexuality, deception and misrepresentation in probing questions of belief, responsibility and judgement. (Landy, Marcia in Gottlieb 2004 p 86) 

I sought only to picture the essence of things. I had absolutely no interest in telling a romanticized tale along the usual lives of film drama. The actual facts were each more dramatic than any screen cliche.”—Roberto Rossellini, 1960 - cited e-Jump-Cut

It is a fascinating paradox that Roma città aperta continued many of the stylistic characteristics of cinema produced during the Fascist era, but it embodied, at the same time , a clear antifascist ideology that attempted to reconcile all of the different and conflicting political positions of the various groups making up the Italian antifascist resistance. (Bondanella in Gottlieb 2004, p 43)


Currently this is a straight forward webliography and bibliography for the film. The Google entries have been researched down to page 26 looking for decent quality articles that aren't simply repetitive. A fuller analysis of the film will appear in due course however this page should still be of use to interested visitors.

Another YouTube Extract. Here the fascists are about to conduct a raid. (Italian Only)


Gottlieb, Sidney. Ed. PDF Intro to Rossellini's Rome Open City. Cambridge: CUP

Scope Book Review on  Forgacs: Rome Open City. London: BFI

Rai TV on Roma Citta Aperta

Wikipedia on Roma Citta Aperta

The Films of Roberto Rossellini by Peter Bondanella. Author(s) of Review: Barbara Odabashian (JSTOR article)

Celluloide Dir: Carlo Lizzani, 1996 A Review by Luca Prono, University of Nottingham, UK Scope

Representations of Modern Italy. University of Warwick includes Roma Citta Aperta and work on neorealism

The Homosexualisation of Nazism  

Film Philosophy Rebuilding the Cinematic City Review PDF 

Film Philosophy Tocce on Bondanella's Films of Rossellini 

History Channel Programme for March 2008


Brunette, Peter. 1996 2nd Ed. Roberto Rossellini. Berkeley: California University Press(Originally Oxford: Oxford University Press)

Bondanella, Peter. 2002 3rd Ed. Italian Cinema: From Neorealism to the Present. New  York / London: Continuum. This is the first book to get on Italian cinema for anybody unfamiliar with the overview. Whilst one may have disagreements with certain aspects of it it is one of  the best introductions to the whole period.  

Bondanella, Peter. 1993. The Films of Roberto Rossellini. Cambridge: CUP. This has a complete chapter on Roma Citta Aperta

Forgacs, David.2000. Roma Citta Aperta. London: British Film Institute Paperback ISBN: 0851708048

Forgacs, David. 2004. Space Rhetoric and the Divided City in Roma città aperta. Gottlieb, Sidney. Ed. 2004. Cambridge . A fascinating essay building on some ideas which had to remain underdveloped in his BFI 2000 monograph. Here Forgacs explores several aspects of the way Rome as a city is represented through visual rhetoric (film language). The essay looks at the way the city is framed, at vertical divisions and horizontal movements and the use of mise en scene as a rhetorical device.

Forgacs, David  Lutton,Sarah and  Nowell-Smith Geoffrey. 2001. Roberto Rossellini: Magician of the Real.London: BFI

Gallagher, Tag. 1998. The Adventures of Roberto Rossellini: His Life and Films. New York: Da Capo Press. A large biographical account of Rossellini and his work.  Much of the account is based upon interviews and is therefore imbricated with memories which are clearly of greater or lesser reliability and at times seems to slip into anecdotalism. The book has a chapter on the making of Rome Open City.

Gottlieb, Sidney. Ed. Rossellini's Rome Open City. Cambridge: CUP. This is an affordable and very useful book of essays by several of the most prominent scholars of Italian cinema and comes highly recommended.

Hipkins Danielle. 'Francesca's Salvation or Damnation? Resisting recognition of the prostitute in Rossellini's Paisà (1946)', Studies in European Cinema, 3.2 (2006), 153-69. Hipkins has been studying the role of the prostitute in Italian films and in Roma citta aperta the role of Marina as temted, temptress and traitor and how she affords to keep herself is of importance.  Rossellini's use of homosexuality as a perversion linked to Nazism is also an interesting area to discuss. 

Marcus, Millicent. 1986. Italian Film in the Light of Neorealism. Princeton: Princeton University Press. As well as being a useful introduction to the ideas underlying neorealism there is a complete chapter on Rome Open City. The book itself is a powerful thesis showing the influence that neorealism has and continues to have within Italian cinema. This book is essential reading for anyone interested in Italian cinema and is probably the best one to get after the Bondanella mention above. Here there is greater depth working through a range of case studies. 

Rossellini, Roberto. The War Trilogy. Open City. Paisan. Germany-Year Zero. Edited and with an Introduction By Stefano Roncoroni. Translated from the Italian By Judith Green. NY: Grossman, 1973.

Shiel,Mark. 2006. Italian Neorealism: Rebuilding the Cinematic City. London: Wallflower Press


February 10, 2008

Digital Projection: Foundation of a New Exhibition System in the UK?

Digital Projection: Foundation of a New Exhibition System in the UK?

Digital Cinema Montage


The world of films is changing dramatically as the installation of digital technologies develops. In the future the term film will become a term of historical sentiment rather than an existing object. Many European countries are promoting the development of these technologies such as the UK Film Council. Getting the digital strategy right from the outset has been a concern fo rht major Hollywood studios. Competing systems could mean that take-up i slow until a standard is established. As this BBC story shows thet were anxious to avoid that risk: 

Wednesday, 3 April, 2002, 14:32 GMT 15:32 UK

Studios unite for digital standard
Digital films
Films could be sent by satellite
Seven major movie studios in the US are to establish technical standards for the development of digital cinema, in a rare joint venture.

The aim of the as-yet-untitled project will be to set the agenda so that rival digital projectors, software and distribution will use a universal language.

Digital Cinema in the UK 

The UK Film Council make it very clear how important they thin it is to change to digital projection systems and point out that it could change cinema-going behaviour considerably. Below is an extract from thier strategy document for 2007-2010:

Film in the digital age

UK Film Council policy and funding priorities

April 2007 – March 2010

In the digital age, UK film has the
potential to flourish as never before.
Digital technology is starting to transform
the way in which film and moving images
are financed, produced, distributed and
consumed. Many of the historical barriers
which have made it difficult for audiences
to gain access to a wider range of film are
beginning to tumble. The UK Film Council
recognises that it needs to take a lead.
With the help of our strategic partners,
we intend to act as a strong advocate
for change by putting in place policies
and funding measures which encourage
and support innovation.

Digital Projector

The latest leap forward in cinema projection systems is the reality that ‘films’ can be digitally downloaded onto servers at a cinema. This has several advantages for the distributors and exhibitors.

There is a huge potential saving in the costs of prints, and profit margins are potentially greater. The film can be released on a global basis by being transmitted digitally via satellite in an encoded form which is to military specifications. This reduces the impact of piracy. From the perspective of the exhibitor it allows more flexibility in terms of screenings. The number of screenings can be locally managed according to local demand especially if co-ordinated with the pre-booking systems. The number of screenings can then be increased or reduced. There is no need to be reliant upon the number of prints in circulation. Each screening would be paid for on the equivalent of a ‘just in time basis’.

Fifteen million pounds of capital funding has been delegated to the UK Film Council by the Arts Council of England, which is allocated as follows:

Digital Screen Network

The largest proportion has been used to create a network of screens dedicated to the exhibition of specialised films in locations across the UK where there is no such provision currently.

The UK Digital Screen Network how the (Film distribution Association) FDA see it

FDA welcomes and supports an initiative by the UK Film Council, to invest up to £13 million of National Lottery funds in what will become the world's first digital screen network, placing the UK at the forefront of D-cinema.

It is planned that up to 200 screens in 150 cinemas across the UK - a quarter of the total - will be equipped with digital projectors. In return, cinemas will be asked by the Film Council to show a broader range of specialised (non-blockbuster) films such as documentaries or foreign language titles on a regular basis.

Hopefully, such a substantial investment will help the hardware costs to fall, which in turn could facilitate extra installations.

How the Digital Cinema Chain Will look  

You will notice on this model from the European Digital Cinema Forum that a live event venue is included in the possibilities for digital uplinks to satellite. Large sporting events are increasingly likely to be viewed in cinemas forget Sky down the Pub!

Digital Business Model

History of Projection Systems 

It is still important to know a little of the history of the technological development of film as a material as well as matters of projection and the types of projectors that have been used and are being used now which depend upon the physicality of film.

A useful web site which gives some historical and practical information is the Goethe Institute website which is linked to the possibility of exhibiting actual films. An excellent site with many contributors of international standing is the Victorian Cinema site. There is a mass of information on projection machinery as well as a general fund of knowledge on many aspects of early cinema.

Inside Digital Projection

Anatomy of Digital film Projector

The images projected onto the screen from the projector, are formed from the projection source using a reflective technology called Digital Light Processing (DLP)

Arts Alliance Media  List of Advantages of Digital Projection 

Digital prints are delivered to cinemas on hard drives, and the content is then loaded onto a server. This has two advantages:

    • The central server can hold many films, meaning that films can be changed more easily (so, among other benefits, one-off bookings are easier).
    • The prints don’t need to be returned after the run, so holding over successful films is always possible.

    Different versions of a film can be easily sent and managed:

      • Subtitled/dubbed versions
      • Hearing-impaired versions
      • In the future, different cuts of films can also be used

      Micro markets can be served – giving the audience more of what they want, for example:

        • Bollywood films can be played in areas of high demand
        • Special themed events can be held – i.e. showing of restored Casablanca for Valentines Day.
        • Special seasons – i.e. late night horror screenings
        • Mother and Baby screenings – appropriate films can be played during traditionally quiet times (such as weekday mornings)

        Sharing the costs of Installation

        The costs of installing new projection equipment can be prohibitive a system called the Virtual Print Fee model is a popular method of persuading cinemas to invest in this equipment below is the explanation from the Arts alliance Media site about how it works. Please note that it specifically mentions Hollywood Studios. This could mean that more independently inclined and less Hollywood driven Cinemas are disadvantaged.

        What is the VPF (Virtual Print Fee) Model?

        The big question over digital cinema is who is going to pay for it? One proposed solution is what is known as the Virtual Print Fee model – which involves both exhibitors and distributors contributing towards the cost of the equipment.

        The way it works is:

        • A third party pays up front for the digital equipment.
        • Distributors and exhibitors pay over time to recoup the cost.
        • Exhibitors sign up to agreed service & maintenance commitments, as well as paying a ‘usage fee’ to cover cost of lease.
        • Distributors save money every time a digital (rather than 35mm) print is shipped, therefore;
        • Every time a digital print is shipped, distributors pay a Virtual Print Fee towards recoupment of equipment. Approximately 80% of costs will be paid for by Hollywood studios.
        • When cost is recouped, the cinema will own the equipment.

        For more information on the VPF model, and how it works, click here to read our FAQ

        How the Film Distributor's Association See It

        Now the cinema industry stands on the threshold of a great, rolling transition from celluloid to digital, which is expected to receive a big boost in early 2005 and then gather momentum over the decade ahead. In time, digital technologies are likely to exert as profound an impact on the cinema sector as on the broadcast and other media sectors.

        Digital or D-cinema has already been piloted in the UK for ten years. Disney/Pixar's Toy Story was supplied and presented digitally (on a Texas Instruments DLP prototype) at London's Odeon, Leicester Square, in 1995. But only a handful of cinemas have had digital projectors whilst further quality advances were achieved. Now, with D-cinema giving state-of-the-art clarity on screen, audiences may be unaware that they are watching a digital, as opposed to a film, presentation.

        The UK is one of the most expensive markets in the world in which to release a film. FDA members spend approximately £125m a year on prints, duplicated in high-tech laboratories. A digitally produced or converted film could be delivered quickly and reliably via disc (a much smaller, cheaper physical medium than a 35mm print), fibre optic cable or satellite - triggering a huge systems change for the whole industry.


        It is clear that the gradual roll out of digital cinema over the next few years provides a number of opportunities for quite different screen experiences in Cinemas. Live events can be viewed in on a huge screen bringing a far better sense of spectacle. By the same token it should be far simpler and cheaper for independent cinemas to have a flexible and varigated programme of new films for quite small audiences. Both these tendencies should revive cinema audiences in the UK which have become increasingly dependent upon the 14-27 year old market along with a few family type blockbusters.  


        Arts Alliance Media Digital Cinema Projection systems details 

        BBC September 2002 on Minister Kim Howells welcoming the early digital projection initiative

        BBC on the 2005 news of establishing a UK Digital Projection Network  

        CNet 2005 on introduction of digital projection technology

        CNet 7 March 2007 on US  film studio coperation over installation of digital projection

        Comparative Report on the penetration of digital screens in the US compared to other regions 

        British Cinema Hub Page

        British Cinema Hub Page

        Orson Welles as Harry Lime

        Orson Welles as Harry Lime in Carol Reed's Third Man currently top of the British favourite 100 films

        A Chronology of British Cinema & Society

        British Cinema and Society: Chronology 1939-1951

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        British Cinema of the Second World War: Key Films

        Free Cinema the Precursor to the British New Wave

        The British New Wave:  Social Realist Film of the 1960s

        British Cinema and Social Realism: A Webliography  

        February 09, 2008

        Senso, 1954. Dir. Luchino Visconti

        Senso, 1954. Dir. Luchino Visconti

        (Original run-time 121 minutes)

        Links to Visconti's historical films The Leopard and The Damned

        Senso Poster


        Senso was the first feature film Visconti made after Bellissima (1951). Already Bellissima had been accused of breaking with the precepts of neorealism but this was nothing to the criticism which Senso received. Senso has been seen by noted critics such as Richard Dyer and Geoffrey Nowell-Smith as extremely important film. Despite this the film was beaten by the more commercially 'art' oriented La Strada at the Venice Film Festival that year. Richard Dyer voted for it as a top ten critics choice film for the BFI and Nowell-Smith (2003) when introducing the film comments that:

        ... Senso is beyond question one of the greatest, and also the most Viscontian, of all Visconti's films.

        As with much of Visconti's work there was a battle with the censors. The film was a critique of the dominant discourse and creation of the triumphalists myths surrounding the Risorgimento fight for unification of Italy. A key scene which would have helped show that the Risorgimento was a also a popular movement was cut. As a result as Marcus (1986) notes this "succeeded in removing the film's true revolutionary sting". The currently available Optimum DVD is only 116 minutes long whilst the original running time of the film was 121 minutes long. The original version shown in the UK was little more than 90 minutes long! In order for the film to be able to represent its main thrust the missing scenes are crying out for restoration.

        Senso is the first of three films which deal with European nationalism very directly the others being The Leopard (1963), and The Damned (1969). By linking these three films together based upon analysing their underlying theme of European nationalism and its effects upon the social structure of modernity it is beginning to read Visconti's ouevre differetly to Bacon (1998) for example who categorises Senso along with The Leopard as straightforwardly films of the Risorgimento. Whilst this is self-evidently the case Visconti was too powerful a thinker to stop there. Much of the rest of his work was concerned with various elements of exposing the various power structures within society and there was a continual level of conflict and tension expressed between the nation state and the rise and decline of older empires and newer governmental forms.  

        Senso explores the myth underlying the unification stories of the Risorgimento in the years leading to the the removal of the Austrian Empire from its control of much of Northern Italy. The Leopard goes back to a slightly earlier time in 1860 when the Bourbons are ejected from Sicily. In 1866 when the events of Senso are taking place a revolt in Palermo is crushed on orders from the government of Italy based at the time in Turin.  In Senso the potential for a popular movement is effectively denied by those in command of the Italian forces although a key scene is censored which clearly shows this.  Both these films show the complicity, compromises and collusion and processes of hegemony taking place amongst the fractured ruling elites. Nationalism can still be seen as progressive in the Marxist sense of modernity ushering in a more dynamic social order. By comparison The Damned can be seen as a closure on Visconti's artistic explorations into European nationalism which as I argue elsewhere can clearly be seen as Visconti's critique of the limits of nationalism and the dead end which it ultimately leads to at a structural level within society.

        Plot Summary

        The plot is very different from the book which it is nominally based upon by the writer Boito. The opening scene takes place in La Fenice the Opera House in Venice in 1866 just a few months before the Veneto is freed from the control of the Austrian Empire.

        The opera being enacted is Verdi's Il trovatore where the third act is coming to a climax. The mounting tension on stage and the the declarations of being prepared to fight to the death are enhanced by the chorous shouting All 'armi, All 'armi (to arms, to arms). This defiance is mirrored in the audience as the audience is shown bundles of leaflets being passed forwards to those wanting to resist the Austrian occupation.

        Suddenly a rain of green, white and red leaflets flutter down from the balconies onto the Austrian officers who are sitting in the best stalls. Small sprays of flowers of the same national colours are thrown or warn by the women on their dresses.  an Austrian officer makes a disparaging remark about that was the way the Italians like to resist occupations- through bunches of flowers and leaflets. He is challenged to a duel by an Italian. The officer is Franz and the Italian spectator Ussoni who is a leader of the underground resistance.

        Austrian Officers at the Opera

        In the opening scene at La Fenice the Austrian officers have the best seats at the opera whilst the Italian elites are at the back and in the balconies. They are soon to rain down leaflets on the unsuspecting Austrians 

        The Marquis Ussoni is the cousin of Livia the Countess of Serpieri who is in a loveless marriage to a man much older than her. Serpieri it turns out is just an aristocratic opportunist happy to change sides from Austria to Italy when it becomes increasingly clear who is going to win control of the Veneto. Franz uses his position to ensure that Ussoni rather than fighting a duel is exiled for Franz has no interest in duelling: like Livia he prefers his melodrama onstage rather than offstage.  

        Livia and Ussoni at La Fenice

        Livia is with Ussoni at La Fenice after he has made a challenge to a duel to Franz. Here he is looking for a way out. Livia has told him how foolish he was to raise his head above the parapet. Here it is obvious that Livia's personal concerns are not reflected in Ussoni's mindset. Any desire is inevitably a chaste one.

        Livia has professed an interest in meeting Franz who has a reputation for being very handsome, ostensibly this meeting is to help out Ussoni but one can sense an ambivalence. Soon after Ussoni is exiled Livia and Franz become lovers. However the war is coming increasingly nearer. Franz is posted to the front and the Count Serpieri takes Livia to their summer villa to avoid the fighting. Before they leave Livia is summoned to an address where she meets up with Ussoni who is planning an uprising. Ussoni charges her with the safekeeping of some funds in order to supply the rebels at a later date.

        A while later Franz breaks into the villa and seeks refuge with Livia who hides him. The discussion is moved around to the possibilities of Franz being able to bribe a doctor to get himself discharged from the army. To do this Livia betrays the nationalist cause and gives Franz the money and jewels intended for the rebels. In the process of this the audience is shown what Livia cannot see; the expression on Franz's face is one of pure opportunism. He has enjoyed Livia, but love isn't part of the equation for him. 

        Franz then manages to bribe his way out of the army and sends a note to Livia. Livia can't bear to be emotionally imprisoned in her marriage any longer and makes a dangerous journey to find Franz. When she arrives she is greeted by a decadent and dissolute Franz who is drunk and with a prostitute. Franz regales her with unpleasantries forcing her to leave. Livia reports him for desertion to the Austrian army. Franz is arrested and summarily executed. The last we see of Livia is her slowly walking in the shadows shouting Franz out loud.

        A Gramscian History of the Risorgimento

        The plot outline tells us little of the importance of the film which seeks to historicize the Risorgimento in an entirely different way to the official hisories of the period. this also opened up the possibility for audiences to mount a critique of the postwar situation in Italy which had failed to enact any genuine transformation in the class relationships of society. With its main target audience being Italians often with a lot of basic knowledge about the Risorgimento this was an ambitious film.  The film was a target of the censors and had many critics from both the right and the left of the political spectrum. Whilst the criticisms from the Right were to be expected the ones from the left showed up the limitations of the left-wing imaginary of the time.

        Key critical opponents of the film were Zavattini and Chiarini who took a fundamentalist approach to the neorealist ethic. For them  Senso was a total betrayal of neorealism as it eschewed the harsh moments of the present in a return to the past. As Marcus notes:

        ...neorealism constitutes the absolute standard against which Senso is measured and found wanting, by Chiarini and Zavattini who fault Visconti for abandoning the modern subject matter and stylistic transparency of the postwar school. (Marcus 1986 p 171)

        The left-wing critic Aristarco on the other hand defended the film arguing that Senso represented an extension and evolution of neorealism. Rather than negring neorealism it marked the return to realism proper in the 19th century sense of the term. In reality Aristarco is effectively accusing neorealism of being a surface aesthetic rather than an aesthetic which is probing below the surface to explore the social forces which shape society throwing up various social forms which can be either recorded or analysed. This was a return of the old argument between the French Naturalists (Zola for example) and the Realists.

        Chiarini however took the position that neorealism's immediacy contained a moral imperative which raised public consciousness about social conditions and could help formulate policy change.  Both neorealism and the sense of postwar social solidarity which welcomed Rome Open City(1945 ) was long since past. The reality was that neorealist films had frequently failed in the box office and failed therefore to capture the popular imagination. In the meantime a right-wing government supported by the Americans and the British and the promise of Marshall Aid had been installed some time before the release of Senso. Chiarini and Zavattini were seemingly driven by a head in the sand idealism.

        It is here that Visconti's Marxism comes to the fore because Senso in its very essence is a recognition of the importance of history and who controls and owns history. History for Visconti was a powerufl ideological tool in the control of the intellectual elites. It was Gramsci's recognition of the importance of creating working class or organic intellectuals who could challenge the hegemonic ideas of the elites which was one of the factors driving Visconti. At the level of aesthetics and how it worked with politics he had been increasingly convinced by the Lukacsian arguments about the realist and its role in exposing class relations.

        Visconti's relationship to Lukacsian thought is crucial when it comes to the construction of his characters. Here it is important to develop a 'type'. Lovell (1980) notes that :

        The most appropriate type of character, for purposes of typicality, is neither the statistical average nor the great hero, but an unexceptional individual caught at the centre of conflicting social and political forces. (Lovell, 1980 p 71) 

        Lovell cites Lukacs directly and whilst we can think about this in relation to the novel it seems pertinent to suggest that this is the problematic that Visconti was wrestling with when he reinvents the character of Livia in quite a different way to the character originally envisaged by Boito who wouldn't fit the 'type' very well:

        The problem is to find a central figure in whose life all the important extremes in the world of the novel converge and around whom a complete world with all its vital contradictions can be organised. (Lukacs: Writer and Critic cited Lovell 1980 p 71)
        The Role of Women in the Age of Bourgeois Nationalism

        Feminist historians have noted that in the 19th century rise of nationalism women were ususally excluded from the bid for more democratic rights based upon the nation state for those who could be classed as citizens. Women in the rise of Greek nationalism were largely chattels and baby-bearers of potential new citizens (women got the right to vote in 1952 in Greece and in Italy in 1945). Of course in the 19th century no women had a vote anywhere except New Zealand in 1893.

        Livia and Franz at the Opera

        Franz (Farley Granger) meets Livia (Allida Valli) for the first time at La Fenice. Livia wishes to negotiate with him over thefate of Ussoni who has challenged him to a duel

        Bearing this in mind it is worth thinking about this in relation to the character of Livia the Countess. Livia by being a woman is largely sidelined from the great political and social causes of the day. She is in a typical arranged aristocratic marriage to a much older man, which is loveless and even childless. As a woman she is little more than a chattel, after all the progressive nationalist movement of the day says nothing about the position of women in society, why should she care? Rather she is at the mercy of emotional whims. Her admiration of her cousin might well be sexual as much as it is based upon someone who is an ideological doer. But at heart it is an nationalist ideology which effects her little. She has no great antipathy towards Austrians otherwise why after the protest in the opera house would she wish to meet a handsome Austrian officer, and with her husband she is continually in the company of Austrians. She is part of a more internationalist aristocracy.

        On their first meeting Franz quickly establishes that he isn't an idealogue, melodrama on the stage is best kept where it is not extended into real life he points out.  Livia is quickly attracted to him becuase of his easy going ways and his attentiveness to her. By comparison the only times we see Ussoni with her he is proclaiming in a melodramatic way that it is the nation and if necessary death which must come first. Franz is a romantic of sorts but not a Byronic one, for courtly love as Marcus points out has a strong code in which the male must: a warrior as well as a suitor, spurred onto deeds of military prowess by the desire to please his lady. (Marcus 1986 p 177)

        In this sense there is a sense of decline and decay between the lovers and when Franz exempts himself from the virile world of the military he loses all the things in life which structure his identity, romantic love cannot exist outside of time and reality it is based in a materiality which is income based and class based. Franz has lost both. Unlike Boito's original novella which is an 'ahistorical love story' (Marcus 1986), Visconti's version lives up to Lukacs' definitions of the historical novel where suggests Marcus:

        the personal destinies of a number of human beings coincide and interweave within the determining context of an historical crisis. (Marcus, 1986 p 178)

        The issue of gender and nationalism has been effectively highlighted in this this film although perhaps at an unconscious level. Livia as a synechdoche for women as well as a de facto member of the aristocracy through father and then husband is counterpoised to the the nationalism of Ussoni who fits in with the description of nationalism provided by Anthony Smith:

        The concept of nation, then, is not only an abstraction and invention, as is so often claimed. It is also felt, and felt passionately, as something very real, a concrete community, in which we may find some assurance of our own identity and even, through our descendents, of our immortality. But transcending death is what the world religions sought in their different ways; so, we may ask, does this not make of nationalism some latterday religion in secular disguise? (Smith 1998p 140)

        Compare Smith's analysis with the comments of Ussoni in the scene where he unceremoniously places the funds raised for the partisans into Livia's care. Livia, please note, wasn't overkeen but wasn't given an opportunity to refuse:

        ...we must forget ourselves...Italy's at war...It's our war...our Revolution


        Above. After breaking into the country villa Franz is opportunistically throwing himself on Livia's sense of love and fear for him.

        Livia is torn between a betrayal of trust and her own individual desires, for events have unfurled in a way which she could not have imagined. But in the end she undergoes little in the way of personal risk for she is a member of the aristocracy and she is allowed to pass by both sides to reach her lover. Franz has an historical premonition of the passing of the Austrian elite to which he belongs, also a part of the Austro-Hungarian empire. By comparison Livia effectively survives the chain of events because we are always given a voice over. We can assume that she goes back to her husband chastened by the course of events at least at the level of the emotions. Serpieri of course has switched sides, at no time is the position of Livia fundamentally threatened in the film. Her romantic gesture of running away to her lover was flung back in her face. She is embedded in a social structure as much as Franz. Marcus points this out very effectively:

        ...the primacy of the Livia-Franz plot over the Livia-Ussoni one constitutes a Gramscian criticism of the Risorgimento in melodramatic terms. (Marcus  1986 p 185)

        In Marcus' estimate Livia is introduced to the audience 'on a moral pedestal so lofty that her decline occasions surprise as well as distaste'. (Marcus p 181). However on reading the film more closely this is perhaps being overly judgemental of Livia for as stated earlier her position is a weak one, she is dependent upon men and is married to one who is uninterested in her. Marcus here seems to be almost identifying with the nationalist cause because Livia really her 'fall' only comes when she uses the monies for her own purposes. But as a woman she has no money of her own.

        When Livia asks for an introduction to the officer on the grounds of the fact that all the young women are talking about Franz. At this point given that she has kissed a nationalist bouquet we can imagine that this is a cover in order to get her cousin out of trouble but we could take it as a sign of ambivalence. Ussoni is told off by her for being entirely foolhardy jeopardising his own position and others by his over-reaction to a trite insult. In contradisinction to Anthony Smith's almost impassioned plea Livia doesn't feel the nationalism of her cousin passionately at all, it is the attraction to her cousin which is the dominant concern as Nowell-Smith makes clear:

        Her (Livia's) devotion to the cause is personal, and she betrays it becuase sexual passion has more power over her than devoted admiration and friendship. But her attraction to Franz has its own social motivation. Through it she realises a nostalgic longing for the lover to whom as a member of her class she was entitled, but never had. Against this patriotism has nothing to offer......It is not a cause which can fully satisfy her aspirations or appease her regrets. (Nowell-Smith, 2003 p 70)

        Here we see a marked difference in approach between Nowell-Smith and Marcus. Livia is rebellious but there is nowhere to go she cannot escape history or society as an isolated individual. As the film progresses her uneasy position between all the conflicting male elements which is apparent in the opening theatre scene becomes more apparent. Gradually she becomes more and more isolated with the acardian villa leaving her only with the complicit maid to support her. Stealing the money means that she will become totally isolated from the partisan struggle and physically she will become isolated from her lover. In this scene she is faced with the core contradiction which the film is building up to: she must sacrifice herself  for the nationalist cause and betray her lover who it appears is the only person ever to have brought her true joy. The alternative is that she must sacrifice Franz to a likely death or serious injury on the battlefield. It is here that Visconti turns to melodrama in ordr to highlight the importance of the scene, there can be no turning back from here: which must she reject?

        Nowell-Smith importantly points out that one cannot legitimately equate the position of Franz with that of Livia. Franz knows that his Austrian Empire is teetering and on the wane: his tirade against Livia is as much a bitter recognition of this passing, a Byronism turned sour suggests Nowell-Smith. Franz is genuinely a decadent he argues. Nowell-Smith  points out that the poitiions of Livia and Franz aren't comparable, however his comment about Livia having 'a freedom to abuse' rather goes against the structured role as a woman caught between patriarchal forces:

        He is quite clearly seen as a representative of a dying class. she represents nothing so simple. Her character is all her own, and the conflicting external determinations that work on her are not sufficient to fix her in any mould. At least she has the freedom to abuse, which Franz never has. (Nowell-Smith 2003 p 69)

        The representation of women in Visconti's films is seriously underwritten: instead critics focus on Visconti's homosexuality and his aristoctratic background. It would of course be foolish to ignore Visconti's homosexuality and there is little doubt that it played a role in his filming and also in his understandings of sexual politics in general, an area in which more work needs to be done. Nowell-Smith (2003 p 214) points out that almost all of his films are about the family and that only in Bellissima does the family emerge in strengthened form. Senso is one of those films which can be read as a critique of the bourgeois family. 

        Visconti's representations of women are extremely important. On the grounds that critics have endlessly discussed Visconti's aristocratic background one might well ascribe his representations of women to his relationship with his mother which was a very positive one. His mother came from a bourgeois industrialist's background and marriage to Visconti's father brought the wealth necessary for him to carry on with his aristocratic ways including his philandering. It would appear that Visconti's mother was a vehicle for the transfer of money just as Angelica was in The Leopard.

        Visconti fequently represents prostitutes and prostitution.  For Visconti sexual relations frequently centre around money and power. Just as Livia gets to hold the purse strings -albeit temporarily- in Senso so does Giovanna in Ossessione. Franz in Senso and Gino in Ossessione both then turn to prostitutes to assert their masculinity and illusory control. But the women are punished for breaking the male codes. Visconti is clear that under capitalist society women are extremly repressed. Certainly prostitution is seen as something which women have little choice but to turn to occasionally, as did Giovanna before she married Bragana in Ossessione. There is a Marxist analysis of family relationships which runs through Visconti's work as well as more straightforward themes of class and history, nationalism and its historically determined failures. It is a theme which will be returned to in the future.  

        Demythologising the Risorgimento

        A core preferred meaning for Visconti's Senso was to demythologise the Risorgimento and to draw parallels to present day Italy.  Several projected scenes were censored because Visconti was going far too close to the bone of the official versions of history. Coming at a time when the Italian right had managed to reimpose their political control an influential film-maker such as Visconti wasn't going to be given much leeway. Whilst the position of the Serpieris explains the opportunism of many of the aristocrats as well as some of the issues around the relationship of women to the nationalist project it is in the figure of Ussoni that many of the most poignant political issues revolve around.

        A question posed by Nowell-Smith was whether Visconti was posing a double question, suggesting on the one hand that the attempts to change Italian post-war society had failed in a similar way to those of the popular movement of mythology around the Risorgimento. An alternative take was even more radical: whether the failure of the Risorgimento to install a proper popular government which concerned all the people was a direct result of the ability of the new and old elites to create a hegemonic position which ensured that the working and peasant classes were largely left in the same poverty stricken position.  The position of poverty  is amply represented by later films such as Olmi's Tree of Wooden Clogs (1978) set in 1898, and also Bertollucci's 1900 (1976).

        In Senso the position of the peasantry is made abundantly clear during the battle scenes based upon the Battle of Custoza. Whilst the peasants are going about their business transporting what appears to be hay on their carts the Italian army is racing about, forcing gun carriages past the carts of the peasants who are oblivious to the proceedings. It is a clear denial of the myth of a popular movement espousing all members of the  'community' who are according to Smith impassioned by the 'very real concrete community'. It was a point that Aristarco made in Visconti's defence as Bacon (1998) points out:

        Politics of power continue but it doesn't bother them. It is as if they were saying: ' you do what you want gentlemen, it doesn't concern us. It's not our war.' (Aristarco in an interview with Bacon. Bacon 1998 p 81) 

        Aesthetic objections to Senso and also Visconti's thorough way of working

        But the Gramscian argument fails to address the most troublesome objection to Senso - that of its spectacular elements, which ally it with the more retrograde examples of prewar production... the criticism is hard to refute because it rest on the  assumption that  aesthetic form  determines  thematic content and that a luxurious , self-congratulatory style full of extracinematic conventions will necessarily compromise any aspirations the artis may have to  revolutionary meaning. Marcus 1986 p 187)

        Marcus notes that despite the scepticism from many on the left side of the critical establishment Visconti's insistence that the mise en scene must be appropriate to the position of the class being represented eventually allowed a better critical reception for a newer generation of film makers such as Wertmuller, Bertollucci and Cavani.

        It is difficult to think of any director who has had so many complaints about the expense and details of the sets. Whilst those who tried to adhere more strictly to what they understood as the fundamentals of neorealism which was closer to an ethnographic mode of filming the poor, Visconti had much greater artistic ambitions. Those who took on board Brechtian Marxist ideas would also have been less concerned with the verisimilitude of the sets for Brechtianism is a deliberately ascetic aesthetic approach.  Visconti's Marxism based upon Lukacsian realism was concerned with verisimilitude in its mise en scene indeed the precision demanded by Visconti in his sets was legendary, whether it was the dinner plates in The Leopard or the parquet flooring in The Damned. to try and get away from this sour and fruitless so-called critique of Visconti it is worth dwelling for a moment on his aesthetics and the poetics of his oeuvre.  

        Viscontian Aesthetics & Poetics 

        It is isn't popular to discuss the poetics of cinema or even its aesthetics yet these are fundamental aspects of cinema. Some aspects of Visconti's can be equated to that of Angelopoulos that other great film maker who has embedded his film making as a conscious effort to historicize and thus politicize the present, yet just as Visconti began to do later in his life so Angelopoulos became more distanced from politics. Later works in both directors take up elements of nostalgia. Here it is important to come to some definition of nostalgia for Visconti is frequently accused of being nostalgic about former aristocratic times. 

        In an interview with Andrew Horton "What do our Souls Seek?" Angelopoulos explians how one night he was in the same building as Tarkovsky who was shooting the film Nostalgia at the time. Tarkovsky argued that it was a Russian word but in fact it comes from the Greek 'homecoming'. Angelopoulos then puts the notion of 'home' within a national context nevertheless he points out that home: a place where you feel at one with yourself and the cosmos. It is not necessarily a real spot that is here or there. (Angelopoulos in Horton 1997 p 106)

        Although Angelopoulos is usually associated with the modernism of Antonioni in particular the link to nostalgia is interesting:

        ...almost all the films, and the later ones most particularly, are suffused with a nostalgia for the family as an institution. (Nowell-Smith, 2003 p 214) 

        Although the historical projects are different for Visconti explores particularly the mechanisms of history in a period of transition on the 1860s the search for 'home' is crucial for Visconti's leading characters live in a world of the unheimlich. Visconti is not at home in life any more than his characters are. Livia in Senso is plainly not at 'home'. In the conversation in the bedroom of the Venetian boarding house at the begining of the relationship  Livia wishes to step outside time which is very significant:

        In their different ways, both Franz and Livia have attempted to step outside of history and to blind themselves morally, either by decision or deception, to the way they exploit other people in dedicating themselves to hedonism on his part, to romantic fantasies on hers. (Bacon, 1998 p 80)

        History, Visconti seems to be saying, is a motor of change which is impossible to evade. Frequently that change is very limited despite all the underlying political idealism represented in Senso by Ussoni. In Ludwig, Ludwig's homosexuality combined with the duties and expectations of  kingship  place him  in an  'unhomely' position.  Perhaps a key difference between  Visconti's aesthetics and that of Angelopoulos is that the latter anchors much of his work within Greek culture particularly upon the myth of Odysseus. This gives his work a more spatial and geographical grounding than Visconti's which has far more interior work.  The return of the old Communist in the  Voyage to Cythera (1983) and the lack of recognition for him within a society which should have been 'home' plays with history in a different way but the situation is 'unhomely'. Visconti's aesthetic is more Proustian and Angelopoulos' more Brechtian in the ways they deal with time both also have an approach which is inevitably suffused with their own national cultures.

        The richness of the Renaissance and the painterliness of Visconti's work is in sharp contradstinction to the distancing of Angelopoulos' camerawork and the highly stylised set-pieces which make the latter's work 'modernist' rather than 'realist', yet both are deeply engaged with historical processes. Just as Senso was a critical attack upon the canon of Risorgimento history so Travelling Players from Angelopoulos was a 'fundamental revision of Greek "official" history...' Georgakas 1997 p 29-30). Whilst the aesthetic forms are quite different, both directors chose to embed within their form an historicisation which opened up dominant discourses and also made the audience work. Angelopoulos seems to bridge the gap between Visconti's sense of aesthetics which are far more implicit compared to Godard's very explicit approach noted by Nowell-Smith again. Visconti chose to subvert the well established forms of melodrama and opera and in doing so was challenging well established audiences familiar with much of the content, for it must be remembered that in Italy even Gramsci recognised that opera played a very different role in the formation of a 'national popular' than it had in other countries.  The petulant criticisms of Visconti from the left failed to understand that art has many ways of challenging dominant norms not least through the handling of history. Visconti's contribution to embedding theories of history within his cinema has yet to be fully recognised just as his determination to combine realism with other older aesthetic forms such as melodrama great works of art which perhaps will come to be appreciated above those contributions of his contempories such as Fellini and Antonioni who will perhaps come to be seen as very much film makers of their time. 

        In both aesthetic routes there seems to be a phenomenology of vision at work which can make many critics of all persuasions uncomfortable:

        We are not usually aware that an unconscious element of touch is unavoidably concealed in vision; as we look, the eye touches, and before we even see an object we have already touched it. 'Through vision, we touch the stars and the sun', [10] as Merleau-Ponty writes. Touch is the unconsciousness of vision, and this hidden tactile experience determines the sensuous quality of the perceived object, and mediates messages of invitation or rejection, courtesy or hostility. (The Architectural Review  |  Date: 5/1/2000  |  Author: Pallasmaa, Juhani)

        Interestingly Pallasmaa has completed a book on cinema and architecture The Architecture of Image: Existential Space in Cinema which includes chapters on the work of Tarkovsky and Antonioni - Having only had a very brief look at it it is something to return to. Through them we can examine the work of Angelopoulos in relation to history and also think about the existential meaning of the mise en scene in the work of Visconti for we must remember Visconti too has exterior spaces the dry dustiness of Sicily, the frozen alps and the arcadian pastoralism of northern Italy in summer. Architecture too is redolent with meaning in the work of Visconti. This could prove to be a fascinating area of comparison in terms of the social ontology of the characters who people the films. This phenomenology can also be thought of in terms of metaphor when we start to talk of "the feel" of a film or having 'the touch' of a certain director. Here we re-enter the debate about the auteur but that is for another day.  


        Visconti  is arguably the film director who has treated history and the theory of history along with a discourse that recognises history to be an intellectual area of competing ideologies. Even Angelopoulos doesn't seem to have done that. Senso was the first of Visconti's great trilogy of films relating to history and arguably we can add his Ludwig into this a fourth historical film. Certainly all the four film: Senso, The Leopard, The Damned and Ludwig use family relations as a synechdoche for other features of societies in change. Whilst the treament may be a little different between them being more of a Verdian nature and moving towards a Chekovian one suggests Bacon (1998 pp 60-62).

        This piece argues that there are great implicit depths to Visconti's work and one which I have started to tease out here is in relation to the position of women in Visconti's films and in particular there relationship to the 'great' events unfurling around them. Livia in Senso understands that  nationalism will really make little difference to her. This piece also recognises the importance of realism in its Lukacian sense to Visconti's project which is one designed with an Italian audience very much in mind. The piece also cross -references Visconti's handling of history to that of Angelopoulos another Mediterranean film maker who also started his film worl in France as did Visconti. There are some similarities between the two in terms of long films and the slowness of pace use of longer shots and longer takes, yet for all that there are large aesthetic differences between the two. Both in their own ways bring out the materiality of the surroundings, both are renowned perfectionists as well. There is certainly more room for comparison here however currently this will be difficult as most of Angelopoulos' films are currently unavailable in the UK. 

        Of course there is much more that can be said about this film. For the interested reader Nowell-Smith, Marcus and Bacon all have differetn insights into the film and all come as recommneded reading. There is also a chapter on Senso in the Wallflower Press "The Cinema of Italy" which is a useful first stop.   

        Notes on the Cinematography of Senso

        Senso is unusual -to say the least- in that three cinematographers were involved. Nowell-Smith (2003 p 78) provides a full explanation. G.R. Aldo (Real Name Aldo Graziati) was Visconti's chosen cinematographer; sadly he died in a car crash before the films completion. Nowell-Smith notes that according to the published screenplay Aldo shot all the scenes in and around the Villa Valmara as well as the battle scenes and the retreat.

        Robert Krasker was then hired. Krasker shot most of the rest of the film inluding the opening scene at La Fenice, most Venice exteriors, interiors of the Franz's lodgings, Livia's house, Ussoni's house and the home of the Austrian General in Venice.

        Rotunno who had been the camera operator shot the executions scenes and 'a few bits and bobs'.

        Nowell-Smith also notes that these cinematographers all had different ways of working resulting in a different feel.  Nowell-Smith defends Krasker's work in his shooting of La Fenice and the opening scenes suggesting that Krasker achieved exactly the effect needed by Visconti for these scenes:

        Indeed, the use of different lighting effects, due to different cinematographers but co-ordinated by Visconti himself, is essential to the formal articulation of the film. Particular sequences and locations each have a tonality of their own, inspired often by different styles and genres of nineteenth-century painting.

        Theses aspects of mise en scene in Visconti's work are incredibly important to in dpeth analysis of his multi-layered approach to meaning. Ivo Blom an art historian is currently working on many aspects of painting and its relationship to Visconti's films.

        Film Crew

        It is particularly worth noting that both:

        • Franco Rosi
        • Franco Zeffirelli 

        were  assistants on this film just as they had both been Visconti's assistants on La Terra Trema (1948)

        • Alida Valli
        • Farley Granger
        • Massimo Girotti
        • Heinz Moog
        • Rina Morelli
        • Marcella Mariani
        • Christian Marquand

        • Luchino Visconti
        • Suso Cecchi D'Amico
        • Carlo Alianello
        • Giorgio Bassani
        • Paul Bowles
        • Tennessee Williams

        Links to Visconti's historical films The Leopard and the damned


        The entries below represent the best in English I could find on a Google search down to page 30. Very disappointing. It is clearly an underwritten and under watched film!

        BFI gallery on Senso  

        Visconti Website: Senso a Palimpsest

        Luchino Visconti and the Italian Cinema Gianfranco Poggi Film Quarterly, Vol. 13, No. 3 (Spring, 1960), pp. 11-22. (JSTOR article needing the readies or instiutional access)

        Luchino Visconti's "Musicism" Noemi Premuda International Review of the Aesthetics and Sociology of Music, Vol. 26, No. 2 (Dec., 1995), pp. 189-210. Another JSTORarticle with no buy option so instituional access required.

        Useful site on a lecture series and screenings of Italian films representing the Risorgimento


        Bacon, Henry.1998. Visconti: Explorations of Beauty and Decay. Cambridge: CUP

        Horton Andrew. 1997."What do our Souls Seek: An interview with Theo Angelopoulos". In Horton Andrew E. 1997. The Last Modernist: The Films of Theo Angelopoulos. Trowbridge: Ficks Books

        Lovell, Terry. 1980. Pictures of Reality. London: British Film Institute

        Marcus, Millicent: "Visconti's Senso The Risorgimento According to Gramsci". In Marcus, 1986. Italian Film in the Light of Neorealism. Princeton: Princeton University Press

        Nowell-Smith, Geoffrey. 2003 3rd RE. Luchino Visconti. London: British Film Institute

        Sellors, C. Paul. 2004. "Senso". In Bertellini, Giorgio ed,, 2004. The Cinema of Italy. London Wallflower

        February 02, 2008

        European Film Institutions

        European Film Institutions

        Please link here to other hub reference pages on Kinoeye

        Under Development

        This page is under development however the available links may well prove useful to visitors so the page will made open. Links will be added on an ongoing basis.  


        The purpose of this entry is to provide links to the wide range of organisations working within a European context rather than just a national context which help to promote the making, distribution and exhibition of films in or about Europe. It will also include links to a range of organisations which classify and develop knowledge about the history and development of cinema in Europe. This will act as a basis for raising ideas about the issues of audience development for European films as films about Europe which transcend national boundaries.  Without strong core audiences it will always be a problem for European cinema to create a clear identity beyond the bounds of the national. Please note that non-EU countries are also listed.


        Austrian Film Commission


        Communauté française de Belgique

        Cinergie Belgium  

        Flanders Image  

        Kinoeye Belgian Cinema Page


        Bosnia & Herzegovina 




        Czech Republic 



        Danish Film Institute

        Danish Film Institute Facts and Figures Cover


        Guide to Shooting Film in Estonia

        Baltic Film and Media School

        European Cinema Institutions

        Cineuropa - Four Language Site for European Cinema

        Compendium: European Cultural Policies & Trends site

        Europa Charter for Media Literacy

        European Association of Animation Film

        European Film Children's Association  

        European Film Festivals

        Crossing Europe Festival

        The fifth edition of the CROSSING EUROPE Film Festival Linz takes place from 22 to 27 April 2008.
        Based in the European Capital of Culture 2009, the festival has been dedicated since 2004 to a young, headstrong and contemporary European auteur cinema. Over the course of six days CROSSING EUROPE offers its international guests and the local cinema audience around 150 hand-picked documentary and feature films from all over Europe.


        Vilnius and Linz are cities that will become twin cultural capitals of Europe in 2009. Scanorama in partnership with the festival “Crossing Europe” started preparing a new continuous programme “Crossing Europe”, which is showcasing the most interesting films of Eastern and Central European directors that won prizes at the Linz film festival. Both Scanorama and “Crossing Europe” are young, ambitious festivals, members of the Alliance of Central and East European Film Festivals, who pursued bold cooperation among themselves well in advance of 2009. The first swallow in “Crossing Europe” section was Sergej Stanojkovski’s feature “Contact” (2005) that won the audience prize in Linz and was also screened at film festivals in Manheim-Heidelberg, San Paulo, Thessalonica, Belgrade, Sophia, Brooklyn, Bruxelles and other international locations.

        Europa Cinemas Logo


        Created in 1992, thanks to the financing from the MEDIA Programme of the European Union and of the Centre National de la Cinématographie, Europa Cinemas has become the first cinemas network with a mainly European programming.

        The network provides a financial support to cinemas that commit themselves to the programming of a significant number of non-domestic European films and to the organisation of promotional activities concerning European films for young audiences.

        Thanks to the support of Eurimages and the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the activity of Europa Cinemas has extended to eastern European countries.

        Thanks to the support of Euromed Audiovisuel of the European Union, the network has been set up in 12 Mediterranean countries, offering support to the promotion, distribution sector as well as to the exhibition of European and Mediterranean films.


        • To increase the programming of European and Mediterranean films in cinema theatres,
        with non-national films taking priority.

        • To encourage exhibitors' initiatives aimed at young audiences.

        • To develop a network of cinema theatres to enable joint activities at an international level.

        European Commission Media Programme Logo

        MEDIA is the EU support programme for the European audiovisual industry. 

        MEDIA co-finances training initiatives for audiovisual industry professionals, the development of production projects (feature films, television drama, documentaries, animation and new media), as well as the and promotion of European audiovisual works... more

        The MEDIA 2007 Programme comprises a series of support measures for the European audiovisual industry focusing on:

        The MEDIA programme is jointly run by the Information Society & Media Directorate General

        European Film Academy

        Founded in 1989, the European Film Academy (EFA) currently unites 1,800 European film professionals with the common aim of promoting European film culture. Throughout the year, the EFA initiates and participates in a series of activities dealing with film politics as well as economic, artistic, and training aspects. The programme includes conferences, seminars and workshops, and a common goal is to build a bridge between creativity and the industry. These activities culminate in the annual presentation of the European Film Awards

        Eureopean Film Promotion

        The mandate the European Film Promotions or EFP has set itself includes the following:

        - to increase the competitive opportunities for
        European films in the international marketplace;
        - to improve access for European film professionals
        to the international marketplace;
        - to contribute, where possible, to the opening of

        new markets for European film;

        - to enhance the distrib
        ution possibilities for European film;- to further share the accumulated knowledge and experience of the Association via its european wide network.


        Finnish Film Foundation Banner

        Former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia


        CNC Logo

        Created by the law of 25 October 1946, the Centre national de la cinématographie (CNC) is a public administrative organization, set up as a separate and financially independent entity.
        The centre comes under the authority of the ministry of culture and communication and Véronique Cayla is its director general.

        The principal missions of the CNC are :

        • regulatory
        • support for the film, broadcast, video, multimedia and technical industries,
        • promotion of film and television for distribution to all audiences
        • preservation and development of the film heritage


        German Films Logo

        Murnau Institute


        Greek Film Centre

        The Greek Film Center is a corporation that belongs to the broader public sector, is supervised by the Hellenic Ministry of Culture and subsidized by the state.

        The GFC's basic goals are:

        • the protection, support and development of the art of film in Greece
        • the presentation, dissemination and promotion of Greek film productions both domestically and internationally

        Kinoeye Theo Angelopoulos links page


        Holland Film Logo


        Hungarian Film Logo




        The premiere of Land and Sons in January 1980 heralded the start of regular film production in Iceland. However, the history of Icelandic cinema is much older. Films were shown in Iceland for the first time in 1903 and shot in Iceland as early as in 1904.

        Icelandic Film Centre


        Irish Film Board Logo


        Film Italia Logo


        Nacionālais kino centrs

        This link is an English one


         Home page » Contact us » About the project » Sitemap » Lietuviškai »

        Lithuanian Filmmakers Union  

        Institute of Documentary Film.

        This is a Baltic Institution rather than a Lithuanian one. It is going under Lithuania as it relates to a Vilnius based conference.   





        Norwegian Film Institute

        Welcome to the Norwegian Film Institute

        The tasks of the former Norwegian Film Fund, Norwegian Film Institute and Norwegian Film Development are now being transferred to the new Norwegian Film Institute. The organization began operation on 1 April 2008.

        The new organization will be the state's administrative body for film policy and adviser on matters of film policy.

        The Norwegian Film Institute has some 100 employees. It has an operating budget of NOK 100 million, and receives over NOK 300 million in public funding.

        The Institute's Director is Nina Refseth.

        For now, you can find information about the new organization's former areas of activity at the same sites as in the past. Click on the buttons below. You'll find information about the MEDIA Program here.




        Portuguese Institute for Cinema



        Media Education in Russia

        Media Education and Media Literacy in Russia: English Versions of Information


        Serbian Film Fest Logo
        SRP | ENG


        Slovakian Film Institute


        Slovenain Film Fund Logo


        Cine y Audiovisuales


        Swedish Film Institute Logo


        Swiss Films

        Switzerland Film Location

        United Kingdom  

        BFI Logo

        Logo of the British Film Institute 

        What we do

        The BFI (British Film Institute) promotes understanding and appreciation of Britain's rich film and television heritage and culture. Established in 1933, the BFI runs a range of activities and services:

        Film Education Logo


        Roberto Rossellini: 1906–1977

        Roberto Rossellini

        Rossellini and Ingrid Bergman 1

        Roberto Rossellini with Ingrid Bergman

        Under Construction

        Return to Italian directors hub page


        This article will be giving an overview of the work of Roberto Rossellini from Roma citta aperta until about 1963. This is when what are usually considered to be his most important films were made and include his classic neorealist films as well as his post-neorealist films many made with Ingrid Bergman and considered by many left-wing critics of the time to be a betrayal of neorealism. Given the scandal around the relationship between Rossellini and Bergman at a time when the Italian right-wing had become resurgent around Andreotti and the concommitant influence of the Roman Catholic Church it isn't hard to see why these films bombed at the box office however their influence on future filmmakers such as Truffaut was enormous. The overview will provide an introduction to the individual works which will have separate articles. There will also be an article about the general developments in Italy. Sadly the best part of one which was written has been the victim of hard disc crashes (yes plural). This kind of article is always important as films are usually deep participants in the SPECT (Social / Political / Economic / Cultural / Textual complex.  

        Written as far back as 1986 Brunette's preface on Rossellini notes that he is perhaps the greatest unknown director who ver lived. As a central figure within neorealism and then moving on in his films with Ingrid Bergman to work with antinarrative methods and the use of deadtime Rossellini was ahead of his time preceding the work of Antonioni. Whilst he was to have enormous influence on filmmakers such as Godard and Truffaut it seems extraordinary that in a time when so many film directors have most of their work available on DVD very little of Rossellini's work is available. Even his neorealist films aren't all available. As for his later work Voyage to Italy is available from the BFI but other important work such as Stromboli is not. Hopefully by writing about him this will help stimulate demand for these works to become readily available. As can be seen from the bibliography below there is a large amount of critical writing in English readily available on Rossellini but without readily available texts this is not very helpful. By comparison most of Visconti's films are available although he is very underwritten by English speaking critics.

        Rossellini and Neorealism

        Rossellini made three films which are central to the cinematic tendency called Neorealism. These films are Rome Open City, Paisá, and Germany Year Zero.

        Rossellini's main ideological thrust through these films was an emphasis on humanism ideas which ranged from an emphasis on solidarity between seemingly opposed idological positions of communism and catholicism against the common enemy of Nazism to a moral appeal for children in the former Nazi Germany to break with the amoralistic and anti-human ideas encapsualted in Nazism in Germany Year Zero. Paisá focused upon the cultural difficulties between Americans and Italians as the Allies gradually beat back Nazism in Italy.

        Rome Open City 1,

        Rome Open City 1945

        Rome Open City 2

        Rome Open City 1945

        Rome Open City 3

        Rome Open City 1945

        Paisa 1

        Paisa 1946

        Paisa 3

        Paisa 1946

        Paisa 2

        Paisa 1946

        Paisa 4

        Paisa 1946

        Germany Year Zero

        Germany Year Zero 1948

        Germany Year Zero 1

        Germany Year Zero 1948

        Germany Year Zero 2

        Germany Year Zero 1948

        The Rossellini & Ingrid Bergman Collaboration

        After the famous neorealist trilogy Rossellini is probably best remembered for the films he made with Ingrid Bergman. The full length feature films were: Stromboli (1949), Europa '51 (1952), Voyage to Italy (1953), Giovanna d'Arco al Rogo (1954), La Paura (Fear) (1954/55).

        Bergman was to become Reossellini's wife. The story of how they first met and then started their cinematic collaboration seems extraordinary. According to Brunette (1996) Bergman and her then husband Petter Lindstrom saw Rome Open City in a small art cinema which by then was three years old. Bergman was thoroughly impressed If there there is such a man who can put this on the screen, he must be an absolutely heavenly being (Cited Brunette 1996 p 109). A few months later Bergman saw Paisà in an almost empty cinema for it was not popular in the US. Still excited by the director's work she was convinced that Rossellini's films would do much better if they had a named star in a leading role. This led to her famous letter to Rossellini:

        Dear Mr Rossellini,
        I saw your films Open City and Paisan and enjoyed them very much. If you need a Swedish actress who speaks English very well, who has not forgotten her German, who is not very understandable in French, and who in Italian only knows "ti amo" I am ready to come and make a film with you. (Cited Brunette 1996 p 109)

        Rossellini's response was very enthusiastic and he outlined his ideas for the film which was to become Stromboli. Eventually he visited the Lindstrom home in California and fell in love with Bergman. Howard Hughes who was enthusiastic about Bergman ventually agreed to finance the film. Bergman duly went to Italy to shoot the film.

        Bergman on Stromboli

        Ingrid Bergman photographed on the island of Stromboli

        Rossellini's filmmaking methods were somthing of a surprise to Bergman who was used to working to thoroughly prepared scripts and only working with professional actors. By comparison Rossellini was using many non-professional actors and his scripts wre loose and there was much expectation of improvisation. During the filming Bergman and Rossellini fell in love and Bergman wrote to her husband that she was going to stay with Rossellini. This caused a huge scandal in the USA.

        Bergman on the island of Stromboli

        Ingrid Bergman in Stromboli

        The film was made in two versions one in English and one in Italian. Rossellini disowned the American version which was 20 minutes shorter and had been edited by the  RKO  studio totally undermining  Rossellini's intentions.

        Whilst the Bergman films wre critically badly received by many critics at the time with the excption of the writers of Cahiers du Cinema critics such as Pter Bruntte and Laura Mulvey consider them to be the strongest and most innovative work of Rossellini.


        • Beaubourg, centre d'art et de culture Georges Pompidou (1977)
        • Il messia (1976)
        • Anno uno (1974)
        • The World Population (1974)
        • Concerto per Michelangelo (1974)
        • Agostino d'Ippona (1972)
        • Intervista a Salvador Allende: La forza e la ragione (1971)
        • Rice University (1971)
        • Da Gerusalemme a Damasco (1970)
        • Les Carabiniers (1963)
        • Ro.Go.Pa.G. (segment: "Illibatezza") (1963)
        • Benito Mussolini (1962)
        • Anima nera (1962)
        • Uno sguardo dal ponte (1961)
        • Vanina Vanini (1961)
        • Viva l'Italia! (1961)
        • Era Notte a Roma (1960)
        • Il generale Della Rovere (1959)
        • India: Matri Bhumi (1959)
        • Giovanna d'Arco al rogo (1954)
        • La Paura (1954)
        • Viaggio in Italia (1954)
        • Dov'è la libertà...? (1954)
        • Amori di mezzo secolo (segment: "Napoli 1943") (1954)
        • Siamo donne (segment: "Ingrid Bergman") (1953)
        • Europa '51 (1952)
        • La macchina ammazzacattivi (1952)
        • Les Sept péchés capitaux (segment: "Envie, L'Envy") (1952)
        • Medico condotto (1952)
        • Francesco, giullare di Dio (1950)
        • Stromboli terra di Dio (1950)
        • L'Invasore (1949)
        • Germania anno zero (1948)
        • L'Amore (segments: "Il Miracolo" and "Una voce umana") (1948)
        • Paisà (1946)
        • Desiderio (1946)
        • Roma città aperta (1945)
        • L'Uomo dalla Croce (1943)
        • La nave bianca (1942)
        • Un Pilota ritorna (1942)
        • Il Ruscello di Ripasottile
        • Fantasia sottomarina (1940)
        • La Vispa Teresa (1939)
        • Il Tacchino prepotente (1939)
        • Luciano Serra pilota (1938)
        • La Fossa degli angeli
        • Prélude à l'aprés-midi d'un faune (1937)
        • Dafne (1936)


        Intute Arts and Humanities records on Rossellini

        BBC 4 Profile of Rossellini 

        Senses of Cinema on Rossellini  

        Senses of Cinema Rossellini's Germany Year Zero

        Roberto Rossellini and his Italian Cinema: The Search for Realism

        Malcolm: The rise to Power of Lousi the XVI

        Rossellini at UCLA

        Rai TV on Rossellini  

        Dr. Adrian Martin Review of Tag Gallagher's Biography of Rossellini 

        Jump Cut. Re-evaluating Rossellini by Martin Walsh  


        Ben-Ghiat, Ruth. ‘The Facist War Trilogy’. Forgacs, David , Lutton, Sarah and Nowell-Smith Geoffrey.Eds. Roberto Rossellini: Magician of the Real . London: BFI

        Bernadi, Sandro. 2000. ‘Rosselini’s Landscapes: Nature, Myth,History’. Forgacs, David , Lutton, Sarah and Nowell-Smith Geoffrey.Eds. Roberto Rossellini: Magician of the Real . London: BFI

        Bondanella, Peter. 1993. The Films of Roberto Rossellini. Cambridge: CUP

        Brunette, Peter. 1996. Roberto Rossellini. University of California Press: Berkley. (First publishd by OUP 1987)

        Forgacs, David. 2000. ‘Introduction: Rossellini and the Critics’. Forgacs, David , Lutton, Sarah and Nowell-Smith Geoffrey.Eds. Roberto Rossellini: Magician of the Real . London: BFI

        Forgacs, David , Lutton, Sarah and Nowell-Smith Geoffrey.Eds. 2000. Roberto Rossellini: Magician of the Real. London: BFI

        Gallhaer, Tag. 1998. The Adventures of Roberto Rossellini. New York: Da Capo Press

        Gottlieb, Sidney. Ed. Rossellini's Rome Open City. Cambridge: CUP

        Gottlieb, Sidney. Ed. PDF Intro to Rossellini's Rome Open City. Cambridge: CUP

        Hipkins Danielle. 'Francesca's Salvation or Damnation? Resisting recognition of the prostitute in Rossellini's Paisà (1946)', Studies in European Cinema, 3.2 (2006), 153-69.

        Marcus, Millicent. 1986. Italian Film in the Light of Neorealism. Princeton: Princeton University Press

        Muscio, Giuliana. ‘Paisa / Paisan’. Bertellini, Giorgio Ed. 2004. The Cinema of Italy. London: Wallflower Press

        Nowell-Smith, Geoffrey. 2000. ‘North and South, East and West’: Rossellini and Politics. Forgacs, David , Lutton, Sarah and Nowell-Smith Geoffrey.Eds. Roberto Rossellini: Magician of the Real . London: BFI

        Restivo, A. 2002. The Cinema of Economic Miracles: Visuality and Modernisation in the Italian Art Film. Durham and London: Duke University Press

        Rohdie, Sam. 2000. ‘India’ Forgacs, David , Lutton, Sarah and Nowell-Smith Geoffrey.Eds. Roberto Rossellini: Magician of the Real. London: BFI

        Rossellini, Roberto. The War Trilogy. Open City. Paisan. Germany-Year Zero. Edited and with an Introduction By Stefano Roncoroni. Translated from the Italian By Judith Green. NY: Grossman, 1973.

        Shiel, Mark. 2006. Italian Neo Realism: Rebuilding the Cinematic City. London: Wallflower Press

        Wagstaff, Christopher. 2000. ‘Rossellini and Neo-Realism’. Forgacs, David , Lutton, Sarah and Nowell-Smith Geoffrey.Eds. Roberto Rossellini: Magician of the Real . London: BFI

        Dino Risi: 1916–2008

        Dino Risi: (December 23 1916; died June 7 2008)

        Dino Risi 3

        Dino Risi


        Dino Risi had a long and illustrious career in Italian cinema. Risi was one of the foremost proponents of the genre which came to be known as 'Comedy - Italian Style'. risi worked with many leading Italian movers and shakers in the film industry including: producers such as Carlo Ponti; scriptwriters such as Zavattini, and Ettore Scola; actors such as Sophia Loren, Vittorio de Sica, Marcello Mastroianni,Monica Vitti and Jean-Louis Trintignant.

        Working with luminaries such as Alberto Lattuada initially, it was 1956 when Risi made his first film entirely under his own steam. Poor but Beautiful (1956) marked the shift in Italian cinema from neo-realism to comedy. Despite his prolific output there is little written on him according to the bibliographical section of Bondanella's history of Italian Cinema. This may be because so much work has been focused upon neorealism, however as Hipkins notes in her introduction to a course on Comedy - Italian Style:

        Picking up on elements of the post-war movement's social critique and combining them with comic techniques, a series of directors managed to satirize the Italy of the economic miracle in a genuinely popular form of cinema. Despite its success, both artistically and at the box office, Comedy - Italian Style is little known abroad and all too rarely studied.

        Luigi Comencini was the other main director of these type of films at the time, and they have continued to be made up until the present notes Bondanella (p 89). The genre was highly dependent upon an effective start system and Risi worked with many of these actors who were good at comedy although some may be surprised to see names such as Monica Vitti in these ranks.

        Il Sorpasso (The Easy Life,1962) was very popular. It has a picaresque narrative structure using adventures on a drive from Rome to Viareggio to elpore the changing nature of Italian values during the years of the great 'economic miracle'. Vittorio Gassman is obsessed with his car and is a symbol of the over-inflated economy whiclst Jean-Louis Trintignant is a more introverted and intellectual type of personality. The crash which kills the Trintignant character symbolises the dangers just under the surface of the exuberant economy.

        The following year Risi produced another popular comedy I Mostri ( The Monsters, 1963), composed of 20 sketches Risi parodies a range of Italian sterotypes who symbolise the type of people who are running Italain society for their own gratification. (One might ask what has changed with Berlusconi's return to power in 2008)

        In 1977 I nuovi mostri (The New Monsters) is another episodic work by Risi, Monicelli and Scola in a similar but more bitter vein than the earlier one as Italy has become increasingly violent. A man in the street sees a stabbing but ignores it becuase he is concerned with the quality of cheese on his Pizza for example. Often comedy can provide a powerful politicsal commentary upon society and Risi made films in this tradition. Hopefully more of them will become available now in the UK.

        Return to Italian directors hub page

        Filmography (for full Credits go to the RAI site)

        Vacation With a Gangster (Vacanze col gangster) (Italy, 1951)
        Director: Dino Risi, script: Dino Risi

        Viale della speranza (Italy, 1952)
        Director: Dino Risi, script: Dino Risi

        Paradiso per quattro ore – Segment of "Amore in città" (Paradiso per quattro ore – Episodio di "Amore in città") (Italy, 1953)
        Director: Dino Risi, script: Cesare Zavattini

        Il segno di Venere (Italy, 1954)
        Director: Dino Risi, script: Dino Risi, Ennio Flajano, Valeri, Cesare Zavattini, featuring: Vittorio De Sica, Sophia Loren, Alberto Sordi, Peppino De Filippo

        The Sign of Venus (Pane, amore e…) (Italy, 1955) Director: Dino Risi, script: Dino Risi

        Poor but Beautiful (Poveri ma belli) (Italy, 1956)
        Director: Dino Risi, script: Dino Risi

        Poor Girl, Pretty Girl (Belle ma povere) (Italy, 1957)
        Director: Dino Risi, script: Dino Risi, Pasquale Festa Campanile, Massimo Franciosa

        Oh! Sabella (La nonna Sabella) (Italy, 1957)
        Director: Dino Risi, script: Dino Risi, Pasquale Festa Campanile, Massimo Franciosa, Ettore Giannini

        Poor Millionaires (Poveri Milionari) (Italy, 1958)
        Director: Dino Risi, script: Dino Risi, Pasquale Festa Campanile, Massimo Franciosa

        Venice, the Moon and you (Venezia, la luna e tu) (Italy, 1958)
        Director: Dino Risi, script: Dino Risi, Pasquale Festa Campanile, Massimo Franciosa
        Director: Dino Risi, script: Etttore Scola, Alessandro Continenza, Ruggero Maccari

        Il vedovo (Italy, 1959)
        Director: Dino Risi, script: Dino Risi, Fabio Carpi, Rodolfo Sonego

        Love in Rome (n amore a Roma) (Italy, 1960)
        Director : Dino Risi, script: Ennio Flajano, Ercole Patti 

        Behind closed Doors (A porte chiuse) (Italy, 1961)
        Director: Dino Risi, script: Marcello Coscia, Dino De Palma, Sandro Continenza

        A difficult life (Una vita difficile) (Italy, 1961)
        Director: Dino Risi, script: Rodolfo Sonego, featuring: Franco Fabrizi, Claudio Gora, Alberto Sordi, Lea Massari

        March on Rome (La marcia su Roma) (Italy, 1962)
        Director: Dino Risi, script: Age, Furio Scarpelli, Ruggero Maccari, Ettore Scola, featuring: Vittorio Gassman, Ugo Tognazzi, Giampiero Albertini, Nando Angelini

        The Easy Life (Il sorpasso) (Italy, 1962)
        Director: Dino Risi, script: Dino Risi, Ettore Scola, Ruggero Maccari, featuring: Vittorio Gassman, Catherine Spaak, Jean Louis Trintignant, Nando Angelini

        The Thursday (Il giovedì) (Italy, 1963)
        Director: Dino Risi, script: Dino Risi, Castellano, Pipolo

        15 from Rome (I mostri) (Italy, 1963)
        Director: Dino Risi, script: Age, Furio Scarpelli, Ruggero Maccari, Ettore Scola

        The Success (Il successo) (Italy, 1963)
        Director: Dino Risi, Mauro Morassi, script: Ruggero Maccari, Ettore Scola

        La telefonata – Segment of  "Four Kind of Love" ( La telefonata – Episodio de "Le bambole")
        (France/Italy, 1964)
        Director: Dino Risi, script: Rodolfo Sonego

        The Gaucho (Il Gaucho) (Italy, 1964)
        Director: Dino Risi, script: Dino Risi, Tullio Pinelli, Ruggero Maccari, Ettore Scola

        Una giornata decisiva – Segment of "The complexes" (Una giornata decisiva – Episodio de "I complessi") (France/Italy, 1965)
        Director: Dino Risi, script: Marcello Fondato, Ettore Scola, Ruggero Maccari

        Weekend, Italian, Style (L'ombrellone) (France/Italy, 1965)
        Director: Dino Risi, script: Dino Risi, Ennio De Concini

        Il marito di Attilia – Segment of "I nostri mariti" (France/Italy, 1966)
        Director: Dino Risi, script: Age, Furio Scarpelli, Stefano Strucchi

        Treasure of San Gennaro (Operazione San Gennaro)
        (Italy, 1966)
        Director: Dino Risi, script: Nino Manfredi, Ennio De Concini

        Kill Me with Kisses (Straziami, ma di baci saziami) (Italy, 1966)
        Director: Dino Risi, script: Age, Furio Scarpelli

        The Prophet (Il profeta) (Italy, 1967)
        Director: Dino Risi, script: Dino Risi, Ruggero Maccari, Ettore Scola

        The Tiger and the Pussycat (Il tigre) (Italy, 1967)
        Director: Dino Risi, script: Age, Furio Scarpelli

        Normal Young Man (Il giovane normale) (Italy, 1969)
        Director: Dino Risi, script: Dino Risi, Maurizio Costanzo, Ruggero Maccari

        Vedo Nudo (Italy, 1969)
        Director: Dino Risi, script: Iaia Fiastri, Ruggero Maccari

        The Priest's Wife (La moglie del prete) (Italy, 1970)
        Director: Dino Risi, script: Ruggero Maccari, Bernardino Zapponi, featuring: Sophia Loren, Marcello Mastroianni, Venantino Venantini, Gino Cavalieri

        In The Name of The Italian People (In nome del popolo Italiano)
        (Italy, 1971)
        Director: Dino Risi, script: Age, Furio Scarpelli

        Noi donne siamo fatte così (Italy, 1971)
        Director: Dino Risi, script: Age, Furio Scarpelli, Rodolfo Sonego, Ettore Scola, featuring: Monica Vitti, Clara Colosimo, Filippo De Gara, Pupo De Luca

        Dirty Weekend (Mordi e fuggi) (Italy, 1972)
        Director: Dino Risi, script: Dino Risi, Ruggero Maccari, Bernardino Zapponi

        How Funny Can Be Sex? (Sessomatto) (Italy, 1973)
        Director: Dino Risi, script: Ruggero Maccari, featuring

        Scent of a Woman (Profumo di donna) (Italy, 1974)
        Director: Dino Risi, script: Dino Risi, Ruggero Maccari, featuring: Vittorio Gassman, Alessandro Momo, Agostina Belli, Moira Orfei

        Lost Soul (Anima persa)
        (France/Italy, 1976)
        Director: Dino Risi, scenegigatura: Dino Risi, Bernardino Zapponi

        The Bishop's Bedroom (La stanza del vescovo)
        (Italy, 1976)
        Director: Dino Risi, script: Dino Risi, Leo Benvenuti, Piero Chiara, Piero De Bernardi

        The Career of a Chambermaid (Telefoni Bianchi) (Italy, 1976)
        Director: Dino Risi, script: Dino Risi, Ruggero Maccari, Bernardino Zapponi

        The New Monsters (I nuovi mostri) (Italy, 1977)
        Director: Dino Risi, Ettore Scola, Mario Monicelli, Claudio Risi, script: Age, Furio Scarpelli, Ettore Scola, Bernardino Zapponi, Ruggero Maccari, featuring: Vittorio Gassman, Ornella Muti, Alberto Sordi, Ugo Tognazzi

        First Love (Primo amore) (Italy, 1978)
        Director: Dino Risi, script: Dino Risi, Ruggero Maccari, featuring: Ornella Muti, Ugo Tognazzi, Riccardo Billi, Caterina Boratto

        Dear Father (Caro papà) (Canada/France/Italy, 1979)
        Director: Dino Risi, script: Dino Risi, Marco Risi, Bernardino Zapponi

        Roma – Segment of "I seduttori della domenica" (Roma – Episodio de "I seduttori della domenica")
        (France/Great Britain/USA/Italy, 1980)
        Director: Dino Risi, script: Age, Furio Scarpelli, featuring: Ugo Tognazzi, Lino Ventura, Sylva Koscina, Rossana Podestà

        I'm Photogenic (Sono fotogenico) (Italy, 1980)
        Director: Dino Risi, script: Dino Risi, Marco Risi, Bernardino Zapponi, featuring: Edwige Fenech, Renato Pozzetto, Ugo Tognazzi, Vittorio Gassman

        Ghost of Love (Fantasma d'amore) (France/Italy, 1981)
        Director: Dino Risi, script: Dino Risi, Bernardino Zapponi, featuring: Marcello Mastroianni, Romy Schneider, Victoria Zinny, Michael Kroecher

        Sesso e volentieri (Italy, 1982)
        Director: Dino Risi, script: Dino Risi, Enrico Vanzina, Bernardino Zapponi, Laura Antonelli, Giuliana Calandra, Johnny Dorelli, Gloria Guida

        Good King Dagobert (Dagobert) (France/Italy, 1984)
        Director: Dino Risi, script: Dino Risi, Age, Gerard Brach

        Madman at War (Scemo di Guerra) (France/Italy, 1985)
        Director: Dino Risi, script: Dino Risi, Age, Furio Scarpelli, featuring: Beppe Grillo, Fabio Testi, Bernard Blier, Claudio Bisio

        Il Commissario Lo Gatto (Italy, 1986)
        Director: Dino Risi, script: Dino Risi, Enrico Vanzina, Carlo Vanzina

        Teresa (Italy, 1987)
        Director: Dino Risi, script: Dino Risi, Bernardino Zapponi, Graziano Diana

        I'll Be Going Now (Tolgo il disturbo) (Italy, 1989)
        Director: Dino Risi, script: Dino Risi, Beranrdino zapponi, Enrico Oldoini

        Poor But Beautiful (Giovani e belli) (Italy, 1996)
        Director: Dino Risi, script: Dino Risi, Bernardino Zapponi


        RAI Biography of Dino Risi

        Guardian Obituary of Dino Risi

        BBC News of Dino Risi's Death

        Independent Obituary of Dino Risi

        Reuters Report of death of Dino Risi

        International Herald Tribune on Dino Risi's Death

        New York Times on Dino Risi's Death

        Independent Obit of Producer Carlo Ponti

        Guardian Obit of Producer Goffredo Lombardo

        Monica Bellucci had only been modelling for a few years when Italian director Dino Risi saw her photo in a magazine and hired her for her first film Vita Coi Figli

        Where to Study Italian Style Comedy

        "Comedy - Italian Style Exeter Uni "

        Cambridge Uni (only a couple here)


        Some of these are in Italian only

        Extract from Il Sorpasso: Dino Risi (1962)

        The Opening Credits from Il Sorpasso. The car driven by Vittorio Gassman is a fine looking Lancia Aurelia B24

        Lancia Aurelia


        Vittorio de Sica

        Vittorio de Sica

        Return to Italian directors hub page 

        Under Construction  

        Filmography (Director). [Current listing is from IMDB but links are not] 

        1. Viaggio, Il (1974)
          ... aka The Journey (UK)
          ... aka The Voyage (USA)
          ... aka Voyage, Le (France)
        2. Breve vacanza, Una (1973)
          ... aka A Brief Vacation (USA)
          ... aka Amargo despertar (Spain)
          ... aka Vacaciones, Las
        3. Lo chiameremo Andrea (1972)
          ... aka We'll Call Him Andrew
        4. Cavalieri di Malta, I (1971) (TV)
          ... aka The Knights of Malta
        5. Dal referendum alla costituzione: Il 2 giugno (1971) (TV)
          ... aka From Referendum to the Constitution: June 2
        6. Coppie, Le (1970) (segment "Leone, Il")
          ... aka The Couples
        7. Giardino dei Finzi-Contini, Il (1970)
          ... aka The Garden of the Finzi-Continis (Canada: English title) (USA)
          ... aka Garten der Finzi Contini, Der (West Germany)
        8. Girasoli, I (1970)
          ... aka Fleurs du soleil, Les (France)
          ... aka Sunflower (USA)

        9. Amanti (1968)
          ... aka A Place for Lovers (USA)
          ... aka Temps des amants, Le (France)
        10. Woman Times Seven (1967)
          ... aka Sept fois femme (France)
          ... aka Sette volte donna (Italy)
        11. Streghe, Le (1967) (segment "Sera come le altre, Una")
          ... aka Sorcières, Les (France)
          ... aka The Witches (USA)
        12. Caccia alla volpe (1966)
          ... aka After the Fox (UK) (USA)
        13. Un monde nouveau (1966)
          ... aka A New World
          ... aka A Young World
          ... aka Mondo nuovo, Un (Italy)
          ... aka Un monde jeune
        14. Matrimonio all'italiana (1964)
          ... aka Mariage à l'italienne (France)
          ... aka Marriage Italian-Style (USA)
        15. Ieri, oggi, domani (1963)
          ... aka Hier, aujourd'hui et demain (France)
          ... aka Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow (USA)
        16. Boom, Il (1963)
        17. Sequestrati di Altona, I (1962)
          ... aka Séquestrés d'Altona, Les (France)
          ... aka The Condemned of Altona (USA)
        18. Boccaccio '70 (1962) (segment "La riffa")
          ... aka Boccaccio '70 (USA)
          ... aka Boccace 70 (France)
        19. Giudizio universale, Il (1961)
          ... aka Jugement dernier, Le (France)
          ... aka The Last Judgement (USA)
        20. Ciociara, La (1960)
          ... aka Two Women (UK) (USA)
          ... aka Paysanne aux pieds nus (France)

        21. Anna di Brooklyn (1958)
          ... aka Anna of Brooklyn (UK)
          ... aka Fast and Sexy (USA)
        22. Tetto, Il (1956)
          ... aka The Roof
          ... aka Toit, Le (France)
        23. Oro di Napoli, L' (1954)
          ... aka Every Day's a Holiday
          ... aka The Gold of Naples (USA)
        24. Villa Borghese (1953)
          ... aka Amants de Villa Borghese, Les (France)
          ... aka It Happened in the Par
        25. Umberto D. (1952)
        26. Miracolo a Milano (1951)
          ... aka Miracle in Milan (USA)

        27. Ladri di biciclette (1948)
          ... aka Bicycle Thieves (UK)
        28. Cuore (1948) (children's scenes)
          ... aka Heart (International: English title)
        29. Sciuscià (1946)
          ... aka Shoe-Shine (USA)
        30. Porta del cielo, La (1945)
          ... aka The Gate of Heaven
        31. Bambini ci guardano, I (1944)
          ... aka The Children Are Watching Us (USA)
        32. Garibaldino al convento, Un (1942)
        33. Teresa Venerdì (1941)
        34. Maddalena, zero in condotta (1940)
        35. Rose scarlatte (1940)

        Neorealism and Pure Cinema: Bicycle Thieves. Andre Bazin from the Trondheim University Theory Kit  site

        RAI site De Sica Entry  

        Bright Lights on The Garden of the Finzi-Continis  

        UNESCO Tribute to De Sica  

        Celli, Carlo 1963-. The Legacy of Mario Camerini in Vittorio De Sica's The Bicycle Thief (1948).  You will need Athens access to access this)

        De Sica's "Bicycle Thieves" and Italian Humanism Herbert L. Jacobson Hollywood Quarterly, Vol. 4, No. 1 (Autumn, 1949), pp. 28-33. (Again you will need institutional access to this JSTOR article)


        Vittorio De Sica: Contemporary Perspectives Toronto Italian Studies Edited by Howard Curle and Stephen Snyder
        University of Toronto Press © 2000

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