Italy Cinematography in the 1980’s and 1990’s

It was under the banner of comedians that Italian cinema went through a less than excellent phase in its history, the early Eighties, characterized by the scarce activity or the disappearance of the great directors of the recent past. Of course, over time we still appreciate Massimo Troisi’s debut, that Ricomincio da tre (1981) in which he revealed all his wisdom as an actor linked to the Neapolitan theatrical tradition and a certain ability to create scenes and characters, not entirely confirmed. in Sorry for the delay (1983), even if the success of a melancholy and somewhat bewildered mask would remain constant, until the last result of Il postino (1994), inspired by the novel by A. Skarmeta, directed by Michael Radford, but with the notable contribution of Troisi himself.

On closer inspection, according to, these comedians are appreciated more for their acting virtues than for their directing ones, because there is little in them of a true conception of cinema. Thus we have a gallery of portraits and scenes, sometimes very effective, which reveal wide transforming abilities in Carlo Verdone, in particular with the various types of Bianco, Rosso and Verdone (1981), then gradually replaced by more outlined characters in comedies sharp and well-kept as schoolmates (1988) and cursed the day I met you (1992); a very singular comic mask right from the facial features is that of Roberto Benigni, the somewhat surreal heir of the court jesters, unleashed in bodily mobility in Tu mi turbi (1983) and in Il piccolo diavolo (1988), directed by himself, like the very funny Johnny Stecchino (1991), up to the inspired and moving La vita è bella (1997). Francesco Nuti, in turn, initially directed by Maurizio Ponzi (Madonna che silence Tonight, 1982) was the director and interpreter of Casablanca Casablanca (1985) and Caruso Pascoski (of a Polish father) (1988). A little different is the case with Maurizio Nichett i, one of the few that reveals a more defined idea of ​​cinema (in his case intended as a dreamlike and surreal show, as a journey into the imagination) and constant attention to technique and experimentation, with particularly important results in Thieves of soap (1989), Wanting to fly (1991) and in Luna and the other (1996), mature works by a debut author in 1979 with a lucky and very funny tribute to the silent and burlesque, Ratataplan. Just as more aware of cinematic tools also appears a figure like that of Alessandro Benvenuti, who over time has outlined a bewildered and bizarre cinema, sometimes with excellent control of history and characters (Benvenuti in casa Gori, 1990; Belle al bar, 1994; Ivo il tardivo, 1995; Homecoming Gori, 1996). Through the activity as producer of Nanni Moretti also took place the debut of Daniele Luchetti, who with Domani accadrà (1988) offered his most successful test, partly confirmed with Il portaborse (1991), effective but too mimetic split of political life. In the panorama of comedy of the Eighties there are also the great commercial successes characterized by the couple Adriano Celentano- Ornella Muti (The taming shrew, 1980, and Crazy in love, 1981, both by Castellano and Pipolo), the comedies of Carlo Vanzina (Sapore di mare, 1983; Christmas holidays, 1983; Yuppies, the successful young people, 1986) and Neri Parenti, who directed Paolo Villaggio in other episodes of the Fantozzi saga (including Fantozzi against all, 1980; Fantozzi retires, 1988) and, to follow, the episodic film Fratelli d’Italia (1989). Within a widespread crisis, which expressed itself in the decline in films produced, spectators, cinemas, and which was at least in part fueled by the growth in the number of television networks and by the influence that television has exerted on new generations, in the 1980s Italian cinema tried to follow other forms of film production and organization. This is how groups such as Indigena were born, that between Milan and Turin (and in particular with a review such as the Milanese Filmaker) have allowed the debut of directors who subsequently established themselves in various ways or in any case made themselves known by a public not only ‘festival’ (e.g. Silvio Soldini and Gianluca Maria Tavarelli). Beginnings of some importance in the eighties were those of Gabriele Salvatores, trained in the theater with his own group (A Summer Night’s Dream, 1983, film equivalent of one of his Shakespearean staging; Marrakesh Express, 1989; Turné, 1990, theatrical film; the Mediterranean Academy Award, 1991) ; by Giuseppe Tornatore, former photographer, also awarded with the Oscar for Nuovo cinema Paradiso (1988), preceded by Il camorrista (1986) and followed, among others, by Stanno tutti bene (1990) and Una pura formalità (1994), wise exercise of style, of Kammerspiel atmosphere. But the author of greatest importance to emerge in the contemporary phase is Gianni Amelio, whose experience matured first with the collaboration in the Italian western of the sixties, then through the television practice. He moved on to film directing with an already remarkable debut such as Colpire al cuore (1982), then he made always relevant works, and in particular Il ladro di bambini (1992), a film that knows how to hold together the sense of the spectacle of Hollywood ancestry (with some Visconti echo in the skill of the staging) with the best lesson of Neorealism, above all the Rossellinian instance. Significant debut was also that of Carlo Mazzacurati, more tied to an idea, expressed with great sensitivity, of the realism of the everyday (Italian Night, 1987; Another life, 1992; Vesna goes fast, 1996). Almost all the major authors (Pasolini, Visconti, Rossellini, Fellini) disappeared between 1975 and 1994, only Antonioni remained, among the ‘old’, to try to make cinema, even if the more or less middle generation knew still offer excellent works (Three brothers, 1981, by Rosi; The tragedy of a ridiculous man, 1981, and The siege, 1999, by B. Bertolucci; last woman, 1976, Diary of a vice, 1993, and Silver nitrate, 1996, by Ferreri; The night of San Lorenzo, 1982, by the Taviani brothers; Voltati Eugenio, 1980, by Comencini; We hope it is female, 1986, by Monicelli; Once upon a time in America, 1984, Leone’s Once Upon a Time in America; La nuit de Varennes, also known as The New World, 1982, The Family, 1987, Unfair Competition, 2001, by Scola; The tree of the hooves, 1978, Camminacammina, 1983, The profession of arms, 2001, by Olmi; Jump into the void, 1980, The Prince of Homburg, 1997, The Nanny, 1999 and the important and rigorous Religion Hour – My Mother’s Smile, 2002, by Bellocchio).

Apart from the production of some of the most singular and secluded authors of the last twenty years, also in spite of the discontinuity of the results: an Olmian vein can be recognized in the work of Mario Brenta, who after Vermisàt (1974), told with the eye of an entomologist, confirmed his talents with the metropolitan squalor of Maicol, 1989, to arrive, in Barnabo delle montagne (1994), from the story by D. Buzzati, to a robust representation of a landscape together fascinating and disturbing, in which silences and noises count as much as and more than words and sounds; Franco Piavoli, a long-time documentary maker who actually made his feature film debut in the early 1980s with a film-event such as The Blue Planet (1982), a landscape symphony of great panic, linked to classical suggestions – from Homer to Lucretius – as well as the subsequent Nostos – The return (1990) and Voices in time (1996). Peter Del Monte, who with Irene, Irene (1975) had created an intimate story trying to recover a Rossellinian innocence of the gaze, was also confirmed to be inclined to underline that game of glances and silences that can be found in Compagna di viaggio (1996). More rhapsodic was the work of Giuseppe Bertolucci, who in his films has nevertheless been able to bring out characters and feelings with considerable intensity (Amori in corso, 1989), sometimes relying on daring and exciting narrative junctions (as in the previous Secret secrets, 1985), thus creating a complex mix of cinema and theater (The sweet noise of life, 1999; Love probably, 2001).

Italy Cinematography in the 1980's and 1990's