Do you want know Italy? Do you want see the deep contradictions of this country and his beauty? I’ve choosen 22 movies that, according to me, show my country without explanations or something like that.
Obviously, this is a personal and non complete list. Let’s begin.
Il Gattopardo - The Leopard (1963, Luchino Visconti, adapted from the novel of Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa.)
Why you need to watch: the birth of Italy in 1861 and the first political class of the new nation.
Il Portaborse - The Yes Man (1991, Daniele Lucchetti)
Why you need to watch: political class of Italy 130 years later, and scandal of “tangentopoli”.
Divorzio all’italiana - Divorce Italian Style (1961, Pietro Germi)
Why watch: there is not law in Italy before 1970 to get divorce. If I need divorce, how can I get it? This movie show this.
C’eravamo tanto amati - We All Loved Each Other So Much (1974, Ettore Scola)
Why watch: this movie talks to your heart. Illusions of youth days, love, friendship, political involvement, and evolution of three friends through the years.
“We tought we could change the world, but the world changed us”
Diaz - don’t clean up this blood (2012, Daniele Vicari)
Why watch: also this is Italy. Brutality reaction of police during riots against G8 of Genova. “The most serious suspension of democratic rights in a Western country after the Second World War.“ (Amnesty International)
Il giovane favoloso - Leopardi (2014, Mario Martone)
Why watch: the story of the best italian poet. This is enough to watch it.
Parenti serpenti - Dearest Relatives, Poisonous Relations (1992, Mario Monicelli)
Why watch: a malinconic movie about christmas. A typical southern Italy family reunites in the native home in Abruzzo for Christmas Seasons. The most poisonous dark comedy made in Italy.
Romanzo di una strage - Piazza Fontana: Italian Conspiracy (2012, Marco Tullio Giordana)
Why watch: the most turbolent years of Italy. Terrorist attacks of marxists, red brigade, anarchist, fascists, and golpe against the goverment.
La meglio gioventù - The Best of Youth (2003, Marco Tullio Giordana)
Why watch: the story of two brothers trough the most important events of Italy from 60s to 2000.
La vita è bella - Life is Beautiful (1997, Roberto Benigni)
Why watch: a wonderful and humoristic tale of a jew librarian during holocaust who wants preserve his son from horror of Lager. Italian movies can shows malinconic things with a taste of humour, and comic things with a taste of malincony.
Il secondo tragico Fantozzi (1976, Luciano Salce)
Why watch: one of my favourite comedy. The frustrating life of an employee during 70s.
I soliti ignoti - Big Deal on Madonna Street (1958, Mario Monicelli)
Why watch: a group of crooks decide to rob a pawnshop with a perfect plan. The life in slums of Rome.
Johnny Stecchino - Johnny Toothpick (1991, Roberto Benigni)
Why watch: a comedy about mafia in southern Italy. Because to destroy Mafia; also a laugh can be powerful.
Ladri di biciclette - Bycicle Thieves (1948, Vittorio de Sica)
Why watch: one of the most famous italian neorealist movies. How to start again with the background of ruined nation after WWII.
Accattone (1961, Pier Paolo Pasolini)
Why watch: It’s a story of grit, that is thrilling and fascinating in equal measures, and with the stamp of a great director.
Scialla (Stai sereno!) - Easy! (2011, Francesco Bruni)
Why watch: to be an adolescent in Italy during 2000s.
Roma, città aperta - Rome, open city (1945, Roberto Rossellini)
Why watch: how was the Nazi occupation of Italy.
Il grande cocomero - The Great Pumpkin (1993, Francesca Archibugi)
Why watch: How children were treated in italian asylum and how this is changed. Real life of a doctor who changed this.
Totò, Peppino e la… Malafemmina - Totò, Peppino and the Hussy (1956, Camillo Mastrocinque)
Why watch: one of the best ever made comedy of Italy.
Mediterraneo (1991, Gabriele Salvatores)
Why watch: “for everyone who wants to escape”.
Non essere cattivo - Don’t be bad (2015, Claudio Caligari)
Why watch: to understand how is live in the outskirts of Rome to Ostia.
La mafia uccide soltanto d’estate - The Mafia Kills Only in Summer (2013, Pif)
Why watch: to understand that mafia is not tourism, is not folklore, is not culture, is not fascinating.
I recommend to watch italian movies in original language with subtitles. Listen the orginal voices of actors its a completely different thing.
This is an open list, I am sure I forgot something. Advices are wellcome.
‘La Grande Bellezza’ (The Great Beauty), Paolo Sorrentino (2013)
This is how it always ends. With death. But first there was life, hidden beneath the blah, blah, blah… It’s all settled beneath the chitter chatter and the noise, silence and sentiment, emotion and fear. The haggard, inconstant flashes of beauty. And then the wretched squalor and miserable humanity. All buried under the cover of the embarrassment of being in the world, blah, blah, blah… Beyond there is what lies beyond. And I don’t deal with what lies beyond. Therefore… let this novel begin. After all… it’s just a trick. Yes, it’s just a trick.