Italian cinema can often be heavy going, heavy on symbolism and light on plot. But there is a lighter side to Italian movies which makes great viewing. Check out the four great Italian movies below to see what you may have missed.
Mediterraneo is an easygoing comedy following the adventures of a group of Italian soldiers marooned on a Greek island during Word War II after their ship sinks. The story follows their changing attitudes, over time, to the locals they share the island with and to the war itself. The humour, although, sometimes lightweight and occasionally crude finds a perfect foil against the background of petty rivalries and picturesque locations.
Life is Beautiful
This incredible film cemented the reputation of director, co-writer and star Roberto Benigni forever in the hearts of Italian cinema goers. This story beginning in Mussolini’s Italy during World War 2 , ‘Life is Beautiful‘ deservedly became an international success on its release bagging Oscars for Best Foreign Language Film and Best Actor. As a film it is a little difficult to categorise, but in it Benigni manages to merge excellent and intelligent comedy with terror, tragedy and a build-up of tension that is awe-inspiring. Throughout the film, Benigni weaves the twin themes of love and hope without ever losing track of the narrative. To tell you more about this great film would be a serious spoiler – but be ready to laugh and to cry. If you only ever see one Italian movie in your entire life make sure this is the one.
This Oscar-winner from director Giuseppe Tomatore centres around a cinema in a small Sicilian village recovering from the trials of World War II. Told in flashback, it tells of a famous movie director’schildhood and his early fascination with film and his relationship with the cinema’s projectionist, Alfredo. Cinema Paradiso is in itself is an homage to the magic of film. Complimented by Ennio Morricone’s beautiful soundtrack, very few films harness the themes of love and loss in such a sublime way. See the fully restored director’s cut now.
I’m Not Scared
A combination of coming-of-age drama and tense thriller, ‘I’m Not Scared’ is based on the book of the same name by Niccoló Ammaniti. The backdrop to the story takes place in the big, open landscapes of southern Italy in the 1970’s. The film centres around ten-year-old Michele (played by Giuseppe Cristiano), who lives in a poor, rural community. During the blistering heat of the summer holidays, Michele’s carefree life is cast into turmoil, when he makes a discovery that changes his world forever. Directed with a subtle touch by Gabriele Salvatores (who also directed ‘Mediterraneo’), this is a great movie that captures the innocence of childhood perfectly, before thrusting the young hero into a distinctly adult world.