Salvatore Lupo e Marcella Marmo
From Rossellini to Visconti. Cinema and the Risorgimento
in the years of the «economic miracle»
The Italian films on the Risorgimento are No more than thirty and only very few of them are really significant. During the years of the «Italian economic miracle» (1958-63) four films were produced which are worth mentioning: Viva l’Italia (Rossellini, 1960), Vanina Vanini (Rossellini, 1961), I briganti italiani (Camerini, 1961), Il Gattopardo (Visconti, 1962). Putting aside Vanina Vanini, which was a failure and was disowned by its same director, Viva l’Italia and I briganti italiani were much influenced by the climate of the period which coincided with the celebrations of the Unity of Italy (1961). An atmosphere of optimism, which emphasized how welfare was the result of the unification reached one hundred years earlier with such a big effort. Different speech for Il Gattopardo, which presents a critical view of the Risorgimento seen as «a failed or rather betrayed revolution» (as Visconti himself once stated).
Ritorno al Gattopardo
Back to Il Gattopardo
In the essay, the author traces his first early approach towards the book and the movie, in order to analyse the effectiveness of the ideas and images that made Il Gattopardo a masterpiece. The essay then focuses on the «historical» side of Tomasi di Lampedusa’s novel, related to the period of Italian Risorgimento. Adopting an historical point of view, the author proposes a new interpretation of the novel’s analysis and remarks. Besides the Sicilian and Southern soul of this oeuvre, the author underlines the national relevance of the historical themes, like the end of the Old Regime. A further point is an analysis of how Visconti perceived the Gattopardo in his movie. In the end a general hypothesis concerning the reasons of the immediate success of the Gattopardo during the italian 60s socioeconomic miracle is put forward.
Il Gattopardo by Luchino Visconti:
a Marxist Aristhocratic Gentleman’s Nostalgia
A brief biographic note and the most important steps of Visconti’s artistic career are reviewed in this essay. Visconti was an original and complex author who revealed his talent also as a theatre and opera director. The essay focuses on the relationship between literature, figurative arts and cinema in Visconti’s work, stressing its political and social importance. The essay focuses on how the ideas behind two films on Risorgimento (Senso and more particularly Il Gattopardo) developed and how they have been implemented, highlighting the literary references and Visconti’s decadent perception of life and history.
Lo spettacolo della decadenza: Il Gattopardo di Visconti
The Spectacle of Decadence. Luchino Visconti’s Il Gattopardo
The essay deals with the epic grandeur of Il Gattopardo, Luchino Visconti’s adaptation of Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa’s novel about the decline and the following collapse of Sicilian nobility during Italy’s Risorgimento. The Spectacle of Decadence is the account of Luchino Visconti’s love for visual richness and attention to details (sumptuous costumes, lavish interiors and dramatic landscapes) which also highlights his ability to tell the story through the senses, in a sort of startling myse en abyme, where the author (the «artifex») finds out his mirror image in the tragic life of Salina, a decadent hero «amused to death».
Melodramma e tempi musicali in Senso e Il Gattopardo
Melodramma as historical consciousness and musical movements
in Luchino Visconti’s Senso and Il Gattopardo
Italian opera in 19th century was profitable investiment of revolutionary theories between groups of Risorgimento’s ideologists. Verdi’s music played a leading role on the national unity’s eve. In 20th century it still was a cliché laying dormant a long time in joint imagination which came back as a troubled subject in two films which Luchino Visconti shot when the second world war memory was still vivid: Senso (1954) and Il Gattopardo (1963). In Senso, Verdi’s music is a sound icon of sentimental and patriotic emphasis which dissolves into Bruckner’s Seventh Symphony anxious and decadent themes. In Il Gattopardo, Verdi’ operas quotations become part of the Nino Rota’s soundtrack and are played three times with different results.
Whirling and writhing: The false movement of History
in Gattopardo and in Senso
The pace of History is made evident in Il Gattopardo and Senso through two distinct images: in Lampedusa’s novel it appears as a whirling wind that sweeps away any progressive path, in Boito’s story, as a writhing worm that unveils the horror of war. Visconti is attracted by the sense of emptiness with which the two works communicate, and he turns what is implict in the former and reticent in the latter into melodramatic explicitness. In both cases, he stops before the final pages, before the surfacing of what remains after death. The difference between the two works lies indeed in these remains. In Boito’s, life resumes in an horizontal succeeding of masks and lies, in Lampedusa’s, the eternal sleep dissolves everything, leaving however, to the dust of cancellation, an untimely form of beauty: the fall of the last surviving objects will become, for a moment, a dance.
Noble or disgraceful? Passions in the Italian Risorgimento, through
biographical writings, literary canon, later representations
This essay offers a comparison between biographical writings by militants of the Risorgimento and the canon of patriotic literature. Especially in the democratic area, biographies reveal a change in gender identities and relations in the framework of a widespread aspiration to personal freedom among young generations. Nevertheless Italian patriotic literature was reluctant to represent women’s rebellion against patriarchal rules, insisting rather on the icons of women’s chastity and sacrifice. Finally the essay analyses the topic of the unbridled passion of a woman towards an enemy of her Country through Senso, a novel by Camillo Boito, and the film that Visconti based on it, developing the theme, nevertheless, in a deeply different perspective.
Variations on Senso.
The use of the voice-over technique in Visconti’s film
The essay focuses on the peculiar use of the voice-over technique in Luchino Visconti’s Senso (1954). The film is narrated by its leading female character, Countess Livia Serpieri, but since the voice is not located in an autonomous time-space, the conditions of its utterance remaining unknown, it turns out to be a deeply contradictory and even paradoxical narrative tool. Investigating Visconti’s film as a melodrama (understood here not just as a genre, but as a mode of articulating the narrative and stylistic elements of a filmic text), the absence of a complete flashback structure is analyzed in connection with both the first-person point of view of Camillo Boito’s short story upon which the film is based, and the movie’s own dialogues. Such a comparative approach is particularly useful as it allows us to fully grasp the different dynamics of subjectivity these texts describe and to point out the conflict between the film’s historical setting during the Third War of Italian Independence and its timeless story of love and betrayal.
Da Sud a Nord a Sud: Noi credevamo di Mario Martone.
Un forum con Francesco Benigno, Salvatore Lupo, Marcella Marmo ed Emiliano Morreale
1857. Civil Conflict and national war in the Italian Mezzogiorno
The «Mezzogiorno» involvement in the Unification of southern italy was the consequence of a long political conflict that lasted more than sixty years. Pisacane’s Expedition was only the final step of a long battle between legitimacy and liberalism. The article 1857. Civil Conflict and national war in the Italian Mezzogiorno takes it to mean by framing political, ideological and operational aspects of southern people involved in the Sapri matter, both on the Borbonic and on the Revolutionary sides. It was a war that in 1857 showed once again a deep interplay between local tensions, social divisions and contrasting modernizer forces, and that was evidence for the theory that set, at the starting place of the Two Sicilies Kingdom’s closing stages, the inability to come to an end of the long civil conflict that was crossing it throughout.
Dipendenza, sviluppo, crescita. Profili, concetti, evidenze
Dependence, development, growth. Descriptions, concepts, evidence
The first part of the essay is devoted to clarify the notion of economic dependence and its relation to development, as a distinct concept from growth. A distinction between exogeneous and endogenous dependence is proposed and it is shown that, contrary to prevailing opinions, exogenous dependence is not necessarily detrimental to economic development. Indeed, it may support development. Whether this happens or not depends on a series of conditions. The second part of this essay is focused on Italy’s Mezzogiorno and applies to it the conceptual tools developed in the first part. Available data on the net trasfer of financial resources from the North to the South are analyzed and interpreted. This leads to criticize some common ideas on the role and the features of these transfers and to the conclusion that such transfers have been declining in recent years with negative consequences on the dependence of the South.
The economy of Southern Italy after unification.
Furhter reflections on dualism and development
This essay focuses on some recent econometric studies on Southern Italy after 1861, and compares them with other researches more attentive to qualitative elements. The article argues that at the time of unification there were remarkable differences between Northern and Southern Italy about the cultural and environmental pre-conditions of the development. On the contrary, economic differences were much less important . In particular, under the impulse of free-trade policies, the different parts of the country reached international markets in a similar way in the last decades of the XIX Century.