Originally, the entire history Italian cinema can be attributed to the motion picture exhibitions by the Lumière brothers. The Italian film industry was however established between the years of 1903 and 1908 with three initial corporations: the Società Italiana Cines, the Ambrosio Film and the Itala Film – however, more companies rose up later in Milan and Naples. The first Italian film ever made was a short few seconds video of Pope Leo XIII blessing the camera. It didn’t take long however for these initial companies to achieve a fair producing quality and films began selling outside of Italy. During the years of turmoil and war, cinema was used as a form of propaganda for the people – especially by Mussolini to promote Fascism in Italy.
After World War II however, specifically in the 1980’s, Italian film and art began to decline due to political issues. During the mid-1940s and the early 1950s, Italy experienced the birth of neorealist films – which were used for propaganda during the war and to reflect on Italy’s poor post-war condition. In recent years however, Italian cinema has not received much international attention, except with movies like La vita è bella and II postino that have received some international recognition. Let’s take a look at the top 10 Italian movies ever produced:
Mentioning Italian Film without talking about Federico Fellini’s La Strada would do injustice to Italian cinema. La Strada is a heartbreaking classic film about a lowly woman who is taken and forced to perform in a circus. The movie features top notch performances by Anthony Quinn and Giulietta Masina.
A neo-realist film from 1952 by Vittorio De Sica – Umberto D. focuses on the life of an old man stripped of his dignity – definitely worth watching.
Directed by Bernardo Bertolucci and starring Robert De Niro, 1900 is a five hour long film that tells the story of a peasant and a land owner.
The Battle of Algiers
A film about the Algerian struggle for independence from France – directed by Gillo Pontecorvos makes this an all-time classic and powerful film.
The Best of Youth
A drama directed by Marco Tullio Giordana following the lives of two brothers from the 1960s to present time.
La Dolce Vita
Also directed by Federico Fellini (and no doubt a masterpiece) – featuring Marcello Mastroianni as a Paparazzo chasing Anita Ekberg in the streets.
Directed by Roberto Rossellini – Open City shows the struggle of the citizens of Rome during the last few days of World War II.
A story about a woman searching for a missing friend in the Mediterranean – directed by Michelangelo Antonioni and acted in by Monica Vitti.
Starring Burt Lancaster, The Leopard is a breakthrough Sicilian story of revolution and the eventual decline that follows.
A movie directed by Giuseppe Tornatore about a filmmaker who recalls his childhood and remembers his love for the movie’s at his old village’s theater and his profound friendship with the projectionist.