TO BE FAIR . . . The Great Italian Filmmakers (and others)

I’ve been having a good time writing these posts, and sharing with you Italian movies and series I enjoy (see post #9, paragraph one). But just because movies by the Great Italian Filmmakers I was exposed to in my younger days at “art film houses” were often extremely disturbing to me for various reasons, that’s no reason you shouldn’t enjoy them. So, to be fair, I thought I’d do a post with links to trailers which embody the spirit of classic Italian film genres, and if you are a lover of Italian film, you’re probably already way ahead of me! All of the films below which are listed in bold italics are available on DVD with your CLAMS library card.

Neorealism, the “Golden Age” of Italian film, was birthed by the horrors of WW II and its aftermath, and is characterized by themes of poverty, suffering and despair among the poor and working classes. Often non-professional actors were used, as in Visconti’s La Terra Trema, which concerns the hardships of post-war Sicilian fishing families. Some major proponents of the movement were:

Vittorio De Sica, Bicycle Thieves (1948), Umberto D

Roberto Rossellini, Rome Open City (1945), Paisan, and others. 

Luchino Visconti, La Terra Trema (1948). (One of the famous kisses excised by the priest in Cinema Paradiso comes from this film. You’ll be seeing more of Visconti and his later sumptuous “period” films in a future post.)


Arguably the most famous and prolific Italian filmmaker in cinema history, Federico Fellini was a protégé of Rossellini. Surrealist imagery from the iconic “La Dolce Vita,” and 8 ½ (1963) are burned into our collective consciousness as movie goers.

Modernism, in the films of Michelangelo Antonioni, such as L’Avventura (1960) and La Notte, is characterized by loneliness, alienation, ambiguity, and the stunning Monica Vitti.

In a genre of his own: Pier Paolo Pasolini was a poet, essayist, actor, “tortured genius,” brutally murdered in his prime, and to this day a controversial figure in Italy. Teorema (Theorem) 1968.

Spaghetti Westerns by Sergio Leone, the most famous one of all, Per Un Pugno di Dollari (A Fistful of Dollars)1964, with music by the great Ennio Morricone, recently deceased.

Not to leave out horror fans, there is the infamous “Giallo,” a sub-genre of horror films, copiously represented on the Kanopy website via your Provincetown library card account. I’ll let you find your own trailers for this one….

If you would like to dig deeper into the rich history of Italian Cinema, you will very much enjoy Martin Scorsese’s documentary, My Voyage to Italy: A Look at the Movies That Influenced a Filmmaker’s Passion

To check out more of Khristine’s Italian movie recommendations, check out Un Progetto Speciale – Part 9!