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Since its origins at the beginning of the last century, Italian cinema has developed a strong link between the representation of its national territory and the definition of its national identity. From the end of World War II onwards, Italy has witnessed a major urban development that has considerably modified the social and cultural life of its citizens — cinema has been able to capture and represent this transformation through a fascinating and complex combination of the real and the imagined.
During these presentations, we will look at some films set in three major Italian cities — Milan, Venice and Naples — to examine how the vision of the urban spaces offered to the viewer represents a reflection of Italy and of its evolving cultural, social and political fabric. Each presentation will be dedicated to an individual city and will explore the related imagery through films beginning with the Fascist period through present times.
Sunday, March 26, 2023
11:00 a.m.–12:30 p.m. (Central Daylight Time)
Presented in English • Live from Rome Via Zoom
From the very beginning of Italian cinematic production, Venice and Naples were chosen as the most representative and emblematic Italian capitals of national history, culture and art. Italian cinema assumed the role of a visual storyteller of recently achieved national unity, Venice, like Rome, with all its history and glory, became a constant and necessary point of reference.
Venice offers itself as a natural setting that does not need painted backdrops or added sets to represent past grandeur and glory along a millennial span of history. The first cinematic images of the Grand Canal and Piazza San Marco, as captured by the camera eye of a Lumiere operator, represent technologically advanced variants of a sequence whose fundamental coordinates were set by painters such as Canaletto and Bellotto.
World War II and the postwar years put an end to the phase of the static and repetitive use of natural scenery and Venice became a landing and passage point for all kinds of subjects: romantic, dramatic, realistic, touristic, sentimental, ideological, adventure, fantasy, horror, erotic, spy, science fiction, historical, etc. Each genre contributes to the thousand and one images that Italian and international cinema have given of it, moving between the monumental city and the labyrinthine, mysterious one.
The history of the relationship between Venice and cinema is a history of a great visual heritage and also of a city where cinema was for the first time officially consecrated as art in the 1930s with the Venice Film Festival.
Presented by Carolina Ciampaglia
Film scholar Carolina Ciampaglia teaches film studies and is the director of ItaliaIdea in Rome. She received her degree in modern languages and literature from the Università La Sapienza Roma, Laurea in 1984. She has also taught Italian cinema at both Cornell in Rome and DePaul University in Rome.