Italy Cinematography in the 1970’s

In the course of a decade marked by lead and the strategy of tension, by massacres, by new student movements and by the historical compromise, by terrorism and by the tragedy of statesman Aldo Moro, the so-called political cinema, a new Italian sub-genre characterized by from the link between the various works with the chronicle of those years. But perhaps we should speak, at least for some directors, of insistence on the comparison between a more or less distant past and the present, or of continuity of intervention, with the obvious updates on the level of the subject. Sometimes the narrative excursus is very broad, as in We were so loved (1974) by E. Scola, whose excellent qualities as a screenwriter in Italian comedies, but also as a narrator and designer in the 1950s, mark a process that resumes and updates that of D. Risi of Una vita difficile, in the skilful alternation of black and white and color, of comic and elegiac-melancholy moments that are found in part also in another important work such as Una Giorno particular (1977). In Novecento (1976) B. Bertolucci intensified his Hollywood suggestions, already revealed in the Tara / Sabbioneta of The Spider’s Strategy (1970), a dreamlike inner journey into personal and collective memory, where The Conformist (1970) had tried to outline, through the protagonist and with reminiscent wisdom, a perverse union between bourgeoisie and fascism (as well as a metaphor for the ‘killing’ of fathers and filmmakers). The fluidity of the two acts of the twentieth century alternates highs and lows with a lot of ambition and a sense of the show, after the an overly cinephile, yet intriguing foray into the staging of a claustrophobic universe ‘a la Francis Bacon’, of Last Tango in Paris (1972). But the highest result of this ‘cinema of memory’ is Fellini’s Amarcord (1973), the Rimini director’s most direct comparison between the individual and the universal, dream and reality, the comic and the elegiac, a return home after with Rome (1972) he had made a journey full of powerful vision between past and present in the chosen city. The so-called Germanic trilogy of Visconti, led by one of his tutelary deities, Th. Mann, is also of great scope. From the triptych the writer inspires The Fall of the Gods (1969, in which Buddenbrooks is evoked) and even more Death in Venice (1971), taken from his short story Der Tod in Venedig.

Historicist inspiration and epic lyricism, a stylistic and thematic combination of a minimalist and maximalist vein at the same time constitute the beginnings – but also the whole of the work – of a singular and stainless team made up of Paolo and Vittorio Taviani. A vein that, after Sovversivi (1967), a docufiction around the funeral of P. Togliatti, and Under the Sign of Scorpio (1969), a Brechtian-philosophical fable, found a development and maturation in an intense and far-reaching apologue such as St. Michele had a rooster (1973), based on a short story by LN Tolstoy and structured in four narrative blocks. Almost simultaneously with it, the Tavianis insisted on historical themes of an allegorical-revolutionary type with Allonsanfàn (1974), a grandiloquent but not always controlled spectacle of history; then they went back to favoring a chronological-minimalist tone with the hard and intense cross-section of Padre padrone (1977) from the novel by G. Ledda. Of robust allegorical value we can speak of E. Petri’s Investigation of a Citizen Above All Suspicion (1970), which deforms in a Kafkaesque sense a figure of police inspector (entrusted to the incisive but somewhat emphatic performance of Gian Maria Volonté) by inserting him in a detective structure, while the character of a count philosophique acquires a dark and grotesque comedy such as Todo modo (1976), second and significant encounter with the poetics of L. Sciascia. Author, also frequented by F. Rosi (Excellent cadavers, 1976, taken from Il context), who with The Mattei case (1972) developed a rigorous docufiction technique, already mentioned in his own way, a decade earlier, with Salvatore Giuliano (1962), remarkably successful. while the character of a philosophique count acquires a dark and grotesque comedy such as Todo modo (1976), the second and significant encounter with the poetics of L. Sciascia. Author, also frequented by F. Rosi (Excellent cadavers, 1976, taken from Il context), who with The Mattei case (1972) developed a rigorous docufiction technique, already mentioned in his own way, a decade earlier, with Salvatore Giuliano (1962), remarkably successful. while the character of a philosophique count acquires a dark and grotesque comedy such as Todo modo (1976), the second and significant encounter with the poetics of L. Sciascia. Author, also frequented by F. Rosi (Excellent cadavers, 1976, taken from Il context), who with The Mattei case (1972) developed a rigorous docufiction technique, already mentioned in his own way, a decade earlier, with Salvatore Giuliano (1962), remarkably successful.

Yellows that continually fade into the thriller are those of Dario Argento, sometimes a little pleased with his visual-sound virtuosity, but also of strong impact (in particular The bird with crystal feathers, 1970; Profondo rosso, 1975; Suspiria, 1977). Liliana Cavani, one of the rare female directors, after offering glimpses of good cinema in Cannibals (1970), then ventured into arduous and claustrophobic reconstructions of the environment (The Night Porter, 1974). Significant – especially from a retrospective glance – appear the figures of directors who made their debut in the seventies: the writer-director Fabio Carpi, author of intense stories in which refined literary suggestions introduce a heartfelt reflection on memory and generational comparison (Corpo d’amore, 1973; followed by Quartetto Basileus, 1984; Bluebeard Bluebeard, 1989; The necessary love, 1991; In the deep foreign country, 1997; Nobel, 2001); Franco Brusati (particularly beautiful is a bitter comedy such as Bread and Chocolate, 1974); Franco Giraldi (The red rose, 1973; The frontier, 1996); Emidio Greco (the ‘ fantastic ‘The Invention of Morel, 1974; followed by other good transpositions such as Ehrengard, 1982, by K. Blixen; A simple story, 1991, and The Council of Egypt, 2002, by L. Sciascia); Pupi Avati (which obtained a good success with the horror tinged with irony The house with laughing windows, 1976, and then moved from the Eighties to investigate the universe of feelings, crossed by melancholy veins, finding in a group of actors linked to the director with a deep affinity, sensitive protagonists, as in the case of Carlo Delle Piane: A school trip, 1983; Employees, 1985; Magnificat, 1993; The witness of the groom, 1998); Luigi Faccini (Garofano rosso, 1976; who later developed a lyrical-existential tone in Inganni, 1985, on D. Campana; Donna d’ombra, 1988; Notte di stelle, 1991). And also the following have been noted: Romano Scavolini (The general rehearsal, 1976); Ansano Giannarelli (Sierra Maestra, 1969, on the Régis Debray case; I don’t have time, 1973, on the life of the mathematician Évariste Galois); Gianfranco Mingozzi (Trio, 1967; Kidnapping, 1968; The Passionate, 1988, with an intense interpretation by Piera degli Esposti); Maurizio Ponzi (The visionaries, 1969; Equinox, 1971); Roberto Faenza (Escalation, 1968; Copkiller, 1983, then moved to a cinema of prevalently literary inspiration from Sosenga Pereira, 1995, to Marianna Ucrìa, 1997, from the respective novels by A. Tabucchi and D. Maraini); Gianvittorio Baldi (Fuoco !, 1968, who after an activity as a producer returned to directing with films of harsh drama such as Nevrijeme – Il tempo, 2002); Sandro Franchina (Die gratis, 1968); Marco Tullio Giordana (author of films suspended between melodrama and sociopolitical portrait, such as Maledetti, vi amerò, 1980, line continued until the success of The Hundred Steps, 2000), and finally Salvatore Piscicelli (Immacolata and Concetta, the other jealousy, 1980; then followed from unresolved but courageous and very personal works, from The occasions of Rosa, 1981, to Regina, 1987, to The body of the soul, 1999).

According to timedictionary.com, the luck of the genres continued throughout the decade of the seventies, in particular with the detective, the erotic, the thriller, the horror and the comic, entrusted to directors such as Lucio Fulci, Flavio Mogherini, Umberto Lenzi, Fernando di Leo, Sergio and Bruno Corbucci. Authors, the latter, of some blockbuster films, with a star of the song such as Adriano Celentano, probably the case with the greatest impact on the public of the seventies, together with that of Paolo Villaggio, witty inventor of the character of Fantozzi, directed with good vein by Luciano Salce. However, it was comedy – albeit in various shades – the most enduring genre, whether it was entrusted to the old guard (Risi, Monicelli), or to the films of the couple Bud Spencer-Terence Hill (as They Called Him Trinity, 1970, by EB Clucher) who enjoyed enormous box office success, whether he saw the transition to directing the so-called new comedians of theatrical and television origin (Massimo Troisi, Roberto Benigni, Francesco Nuti, Alessandro Benvenuti, Maurizio Nichetti, Carlo Verdone) or a ‘ valued comedian-moralist such as Nanni Moretti (Io sono un autarchico, 1977; Ecce bombo, 1978), a filmmaker who would later grow over the years for rigor and control of the privileged material, placing his keen eye on a phenomenology of contemporary living (think, in particular, of Bianca, 1984; La Messa è Finita, 1985; Caro diario, 1993, of which the first episode or segment is especially noteworthy, which seems to allude to cinema intended as a journey and as a discovery; The Son’s Room, 2001).

At the ideal end of the seventies, a decade continuously suspended between drama and comedy, often intertwined, you can choose four works differently representative of a certain phase of their authors and also of the more general Italian, cinematographic and socio-cultural context: Casanova by Federico Fellini (1976), with whom Fellini built a new and even more visionary theatrical universe inhabited by dreams and death; Un borghese piccolo piccolo (1977) by Monicelli, from the novel by V. Cerami, first a human comedy with a family dimension, then hard and very incisive Kammerspiel, with precise contemporary moods; another Fellini, that of the small but robust and disturbing chamber concert, Orchestra Rehearsal (1979), which with its confusion serves well as an allegory of an era.

Italy Cinematography in the 1970's