The Italian film industry has several master filmmakers who influenced other directors, producers, and screenwriters worldwide with their distinct themes, symbolism, and motivation from the World War II.
Here are ten of the must-see films by the Italian filmmakers which created a stir during their release;
- 8 ½
Federico Fellini directed this 1963 drama film with Guido, portrayed by Marcello Mastroianni, as the representation of himself. The story revolved around the struggles of the protagonist as a director and a husband. The film won various awards including Best Foreign Language Film, Best Costume Design, Grand Prize at the 3rd Moscow International Film Festival, and seven recognitions from the Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists.
- Bicycle Thieves
Vittorio De Sica based his film on a novel with a similar title by Luigi Bartolini. Bicycle Thieves is an Italian film which represented the Golden Age of Italy in cinemas. The protagonist of the film looks for his stolen bike which he will use in hope to save his poverty-stricken family during the postwar period in Rome. The bicycle served as a symbol of stolen hope for the Italians during the difficulties and trials in World War II. Film critics considered Bicycle Thieves as “the greatest films of all time,” and it had received an Academy Honorary Award in the 1950s.
- The Battle of Algiers
GilloPontecorvo directed the 1966 political-based film The Battle of Algiers which showed the struggles of Algerians during the French domination in the 1950s. Some scenes from the movie showed how cruelty occurred during the Algerian War — electrocution, blowtorching, and waterboarding. France banned this film for five years due to its political controversies but lifted it in 1971. Pontecorvo showed the independence of Algeria from France in the epilogue of the film.
The director, Dario Argento, based the film on an essay by Thomas de Quincey entitled Suspiria de Profundis (Sighs from the Depths). It is a 1977 supernatural horror film which received mixed receptions from film critics. Suzy Bannion, the lead character, discovered that her ballet school in Germany has evil and dark secrets after numerous disappearances and murders. The film is set to have a remake this 2018 with Dakota Johnson as Suzy.
- La Dolce Vita
Another masterpiece from Federico Fellini is the 1960 drama film La Dolce Vita (The Good Life). He shot the film scenes in various settings where the main character, Marcello Rubini, a journalist portrayed by Marcello Mastroianni, looked for love and happiness in nightclubs, sidewalks, and parades on Via Veneto. The film won several awards including the Palme d’Or at the 1960 Cannes Film Festival and an Oscar for Best Costumes.
- La Strada
Federico Fellini has created several controversial and blockbuster films including La Strada, which translates to The Road. The development of the film had undergone various disputes from financial conflicts, casting problems, and unwanted delays. Furthermore, Fellini had also suffered from a nervous breakdown during the production of the film. These struggles paid off after film critics from the American Film Institute stated that it is “one of the most influential films ever made.”
- Rome, Open City
Roberto Rossellini revealed in his 1945 drama film the oppression of Rome during the Nazi occupation in 1944. The neorealist-political movie showed how a Partisan priest and a Communist leader struggled against Nazism during World War II. The film earned prestigious awards and nominations such as the Grand Prize in Cannes Film Festival and Best Original Screenplay on the 19th Academy Awards.
The first film in a Michaelangelo Antonioni trilogy which created noise in the 1960s due to its ironic portrayal of the bourgeois society. Anna, a Roman heiress, disappeared during her yacht trip to Sicily with his beau and friends. The flow of the story started with romance and ended up as suspense when they sought Anna. Several film festivals recognized L’Avventura including the Cannes Film festival in 1960 where they awarded the film the Jury Prize.
- Cinema Paradiso
An underrated 1988 drama film by Giuseppe Tornatore drew attention after more than two decades. It is a narrative story of a filmmaker about a young boy and a film projectionist from Sicily, his home village. The film received several positive reviews from film critics, and it has won the Best Foreign Language Film at the 62nd Academy Awards.
- Umberto D.
Vittorio De Sica showcased his directing prowess and influence in the 1952 neorealist film. Umberto D. or Umberto Domenico Ferrari is an old, retired man who demands a raise in his pension since it is his only source of income. His landlady is evicting him from his rented apartment, and he has no one apart from his dog, Flike. However, De Sica has ensured that the viewers will not sympathize with Umberto due to his obnoxious, bourgeois attitude. This film has various nominations and awards including the Grand Prix and Best Foreign Film.