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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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CHAPTER 4 Patriarchy Postponed 125


Chapter 4 Patriarchy Postponed Ora, invece, è il reale stesso a farsi ambiguo, intricato, complesso, così tanto che la macchina da presa di un cineasta non sembra più in grado di trarne un dubbio produttivo né forme di credenze possibili. – Enrico Carocci (2007: 117) When Tre fratelli was released in 1981, the film’s director Francesco Rosi remarked on the sense of confusion experienced by the intellectual attempt- ing to clarify conditions in contemporary Italian society. Rosi recognized the dif ferences from his previous work in the approach taken in this film, which deals with terrorism as part of a wider portrait of Italy and of the Italian family: The general social and political situation in Italy is much less clear today than when I made my first films. Twenty years ago, when I made Salvatore Giuliano and [Le mani sulla città], my aim was to participate in public life by making films which dealt with collective problems. Reality was clearer and simpler then and I could tell stories about the collectivity, about society, by using only facts. The situation is more complex now, and one needs to rely more on characters, their interrelationships, and their reactions to social events in order to make an analysis. (Crowdus 1982: 42) Rosi’s assertion that contemporary reality was elusive and accessible only obliquely, and that the ‘facts’ were of no help in the understanding of con- temporary conditions, is symptomatic of a wider feeling of impotence and perception of crisis in the role of the...

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