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Tragedia all’italiana

Italian Cinema and Italian Terrorisms, 1970-2010


Alan O'Leary

Cinema has played a key role in articulating the impact and legacies of the so-called anni di piombo in Italy, the years of intra-national political terrorism that lasted from 1969 until well into the 1980s. Tragedia all’italiana offers an analytical exploration of Italian cinema’s representation and refraction of those years, showing how a substantial and still growing corpus of films has shaped the ways in which Italians have assimilated and remembered the events of this period.
This is the first monograph in English on terrorism and film in Italy, a topic that is attracting the interest of a wide range of scholars of film, cultural studies and critical terrorism studies. It provides novel analytical categories for an intriguing corpus of films and offers careful accounts of works and genres as diverse as La meglio gioventú, Buongiorno, notte, the poliziottesco (cop film) and the commedia all’italiana. The author argues that fiction film can provide an effective frame for the elaboration of historical experience but that the cinema is symptomatic both of its time and of the codes of the medium itself – in terms of its elisions, omissions and evasions as well as its emphases. The book is a study of a body of films that has elaborated the experience of terrorism as a fascinating and even essential part of the heritage of modern Italy.


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Acknowledgements xiii


Acknowledgements Almost every passing year sees the release of one or more films addressing the atrocities and traumas of the long 1970s. Critical consideration of this phenomenon was until relatively recently limited to a scattered body of film reviews and a small number of articles treating individual films (e.g., Lombardi 2000a; Orton 1999), thematic aspects (e.g., Bandirali and Ter- rone 2004; Cecchini 2005), or taxonomic considerations relating to the corpus as a whole (Fantoni Minella 2004). In the past few years, however, we have witnessed an eruption of interest in the theme, something evi- denced by the regular presence of papers and panels on the topic of ‘film and terrorism’ at conferences of Italian studies, as well by the recent vintage of many of the entries in this book’s bibliography. I will not attempt to of fer a survey of the scholarly and critical pro- duction here, but I should certainly mention the work of five colleagues whose work has particularly inf luenced the revision of this study. Schermi di piombo: il terrorismo nel cinema italiano (2007) by Christian Uva of Roma Tre is an invaluable work that provides an extremely comprehensive overview of the corpus in the introductory essay by Uva himself (9–94), a series of ‘approfondimenti’ – short essays by several authors – dealing with historiographical, genre and other questions, and interviews with writers, filmmakers and former terrorists. I have been very fortunate to be able to discuss his work with Christian himself, and been able to test my...

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