The Golden Age of Italian Cinema: In Between Authors and Genres

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Course Information
Film Studies
Terms offered: 
Language of instruction: 
Contact Hours: 

Following Peter Bondanella's suggestions, our course on the History of Italian cinema will deal mainly with the period of its greatest achievements, that is the period that goes from 1960 up to 1974 approximately, but the other periods of the history of Italian cinema will not be forgotten. In fact, during the first lessons, students will be given an outline of the history of Italian cinema concerning the beginning of the century, the fascist period and, in particular, neorealism, while the lessons in the latter half of the course will be devoted to more recent and contemporary Italian authors and films. To have a paramount view of Italian cinema we will attempt to combine the authors and souci-historic approach with the genre approach. This will mean dealing with Authors' films, "spaghetti" western, Comedy Italian Style etc., at films that achieved great critical and commercial acclaim and that probably had a certain influence on some American authors of the "New York and New Hollywood generation" of the late 60s and early 70s and, what is more important, whose knowledge is essential for a correct understanding of the films from the contemporary Italian minimalist new wave.

Attendance policy: 

Regular class attendance is mandatory. Students are expected to attend classes each day, including course-related excursions.

IES Abroad Milano allows a maximum of TWO excused absences per semester. Each further absence will automatically result in a penalty of two points off (2/100) on the final grade. SEVEN absences per course (including 2 excused absences) will result in a failing grade for that course. Furthermore, an absence on the date of scheduled tests, presentations or quizzes does not entitle you to recover/reschedule such tests. Failure to attend your midterm and/or final exam will result in an F grade on that paper/exam.

Required work and form of assessment: 

Field Studies: if possible, students will be accompanied on a visit to a film set or a TV studio.

  • Attendance and class participation: 25%;
  • Mid-term in class written exam: 20%
  • Final exam both Oral presentation: 25% + Research and opinion paper (7-10 pages): 30%

Two lessons composed of two hours will be dedicated to each author or topic. Each author and movie will be introduced from both historical and sociological perspectives and then the film which best represents the author will be analyzed in its narrative structure, mise en scène and linguistic style through the screening of clips (or of the entire film when possible). Students will be expected to join in the debate and to bring their own critical points of view into the discussion.

In the second part of the course (that is after the mid-term paper), each student will be encouraged to give a short oral presentation with clips of a film (unseen in class); the student can opt for a 'classic' film which dates to the period analyzed in the course or, better, the student can choose a contemporary (Italian) movie of their liking. A list of suggestions will be provided, but it is not exhaustive.


Unit Study Films/Readings
Unit 1 +2 Italian  Cinema  at  the  beginning  of the  century  and  during  the  fascist regime.
About and around Neorealism
  • Rome Open City (1945)
  • Paisà (1946) by Rossellini, Bicycle Thief. By De Sica
Unit 3+4 Luchino Visconti and the passage to Realism
  • Rocco and his Brothers (1960)*
Unit 5+6 Michelangelo Antonioni and the narrative of revelation
  • L’avventura (1960)*
  • Blow up (1966)*
Unit 7+8 Pier Paolo Pasolini and the subproletarian people
  • Accattone (1960)*
Unit 9+10 Federico  Fellini  and  the  triumph  of fantasy and poetry
  • La dolce vita (1959)* 
  • 8 1/2 (1963)*
Unit 11 Field  Studies  or  review  of  first  10 lessons  
Unit 12 Mid term paper Covering up to lesson 10  
Unit 13+14 Comedy Italian style or Italian political thriller
  • Divorce Italian Style (1963)
Unit 15+16 Bernardo Bertolucci and the “author’s cine par excellence”
  • The Conformist, (1970)**
Unit 17+18 Sergio  Leone  and  the  “spaghetti” western
  • For a Few Dollars More (1964)**


The New Renaissance: G. Tornatore and G. Salvatores
  • New Cinema Paradiso (1988)*
Unit 21+22 The Neo-Neorealism: M. Risi and G. Amelio
  • Mary Forever (1988)*
Unit 23 Final Paper  

Films marked with * are subtitled in English
Films marked with ** are dubbed in English

Required readings: 
  • Bondanella Peter, Italian Cinema from Neorealism to the Present,  F. Ungar Pub. Co., New York (the most recent edition).
  • Buss Robin, Italian Films, B.T. Batsford Ltd., London 1989.
Other Resources: 



  • 1. Title: Riso amaro - Author: G. De Santis  Mins: 105’ - Language: Italian - Available from: IES Lib. FR1
  • 2. Title: Bellissima -  Author: L. Visconti 1951 Mins: 90’ - Language: Italian -  Available from: IES Lib. FB4
  • 3. Title: Viaggio in Italia - Author: Rossellini 1953 Mins: 80’ - Language: Italian -  Available from: IES Lib. FV2
  • 4. Title: I vitelloni -  Author: F. Fellini 1953 Mins: 92’ - Language: subtitles - Available from: IES Lib.
  • 5.  Title: Il Gattopardo - Author: L. Visconti 1963 Mins: 190’ - Language: Italian - Available from: IES Lib. FG1
  • 6. Title: Deserto Rosso -  Author: M. Antonioni 1964 Mins: 120 - Language: subtitles - Available from: IES Lib.
  • 7. Title: Teorema - Author: P.P.Pasolini 1968 Mins: 108 - Language: Italian - Available from: IES Lib. FT1
  • 8. Title: Il Giorno del civetta - Author: D. Damiani 1968 Mins: 104’ - Language: Italian - Available from: IES Lib. FG5
  • 9. Title: Spider’s Strat. -  Author: B. Bertolucci 1970 Language: subtitles -  Available from: Provenzano
  • 10. Title: The Conformist - Author: B. Bertolucci 1970 Language:  English dub -  Available from: Provenzano
  • 11.  Title:Last Tango in P. - Author: B. Bertolucci 1972 Mins: 124 - Language: Engl/Fr. - Available from: IES Lib. FL3
  • 12. Title: 1990 (2 videos) -  Author: B. Bertolucci 1976  Language: English - Available from: Provenzano
  • 13. Title: C’eravamo tanto amati - Author: E. Scola 1974 Language: Italian - Available from: Provenzano
  • 14.  Title: Una giornata part -  Author: E. Scola 1977 Mins: 105 - Language: Italian - Available from: IES Lib. FG2
  • 15. Title: L’ultima donna - Author: M. Ferreri 1975 Mins: 108’ - Language: Italian - Available from: IES Lib. FU1
  • 16. Title: Crist stopped at.Eboli.. - Author: F. Rosi 1979 Mins: 214’ - Language: subtitles - Available from: IES Lib. FC3

Recent and  contemporaries

  • 1. Title: Bianca - Author: N. Moretti 1983 Mins: 96 - Language: Italian  - Available from: IES Lib. FB7
  • 2. Title: La famiglia - Author: E. Scola 1986 Mins: 126’ - Language: Italian - Available from: IES Lib. FF1
  • 3.  Title: Marrakech Expr -  Author: Salvatores 1988 Mins: 110’ - Language: Italian - Available from: IES Lib. FM1
  • 4. Title: Donne con le gonne - Author: F. Nuti 1991 Mins: 119 - Language: Italian - Available from: IES Lib. FD4
  • 5. Title: La stazione -  Author: S. Rubini Mins: 92’ - Language: Italian -  Available from: IES Lib. FS3
  • 6.  Title: Caro diario - Author: N. Moretti 1993 Mins: 98’ - Language: Italian - Available from: IES Lib. FC1
  • 7. Title: Sud -  Author: Salvatores 1993 Mins: 92 -  Language: Italian - Available from: IES Lib. FS5
  • 8.  Title:Grande cocomero - Author: F. Archibugi 1993 Mins: 105  - Language: Italian -  Available from: IES Lib. FG3
  • 9. Title: Ladro di Bambini - Author: G. Amelio 1992 Mins: 125’ - Language: Italian - Available from: IES Lib. FL1
  • 10. Title: Piccolo Diavolo -  Author: R. Benigni Language: Italian - Available from: IES Lib. CP1
  • 11. Title: Maniaci sentimen - Author: S. Izzo 1994 Mins: 95’ - Language: Italian -  Available from: IES Lib. FM6
  • 12. Title: Chiedi alla luna -  Author: G. Piccioni Language: Italian - Available from: IES Lib. CC2
  • 13. Title: Il Postino - Author: Troisi-Radford 1994 Mins:  113 - Language: subtitles - Available from: IES Lib. FP7
  • 14. Title: Volere volare - Author: M. Nichetti Language: subtitles - Available from: Provenzano