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15 best Italian films for true aesthetes
15 best Italian films for true aesthetes

Unusual experiments of neorealists, bold works of Fellini and new classics from Sorrentino await you.

15 iconic Italian films for true aesthetes
15 iconic Italian films for true aesthetes

1. Obsession

  • Italy, 1943.
  • Drama, melodrama, noir.
  • Duration: 143 minutes.
  • IMDb: 7, 6.
Shot from the Italian film "Obsession"
Shot from the Italian film "Obsession"

A tramp named Gino enters a tavern in search of food and immediately falls in love with the owner's wife, Giovanna. Her husband Bregano invites the hero to live in his house. He remains to help the owner as a mechanic, but at the same time has an affair with his wife. However, this vicious passion weighs on Gino, and he asks Giovanna to run away with him.

"Obsession" marked the beginning of both the career of the great director Luchino Visconti, and such a direction in cinema as Italian neorealism. It is also the first film noir to be filmed outside the United States. And also one of the most unusual screen adaptations of the novel by James Kane "The Postman Rings Twice."

2. Rome, open city

  • Italy, 1945.
  • War drama.
  • Duration: 103 minutes.
  • IMDb: 8, 1.

Rome at the end of World War II had only a few months left under German occupation. The Gestapo is on the hunt for engineer Giorgio Manfredi, one of the leaders of the anti-fascist resistance. But the hero finds help in the person of his friends - Francesco, his bride Pina and the priest Don Pietro.

As we wrote above, Obsession laid the foundations for neorealism. However, officially the countdown of this era begins with the film by Roberto Rossellini "Rome, the open city". The director has filmed the stars alongside non-professional actors amid real ruined buildings. And thereby inspired colleagues in the shop to convey the life and mood of people in the post-war period as realistic as possible, without embellishment.

3. Bicycle thieves

  • Italy, 1948.
  • Drama.
  • Duration: 89 minutes.
  • IMDb: 8, 3.

The father of two children, Antonio Richie, gets a job as a posters. Only you need a bicycle for work, and a man recently handed it over to a pawnshop to support his family. Having laid the latter, the hero buys the transport back, but the property is stolen on the same day. Then Antonio, together with his little son Bruno, goes in search of the thief.

Like Roberto Rossellini, Vittorio de Sica, a prominent representative of neorealism, shot in natural light, often in the most ordinary apartments and on the streets, and often invited non-professional actors to his films. Therefore, the audience has the complete feeling that they are looking at Rome through the eyes of an ordinary person.

At the same time, the author manages to maintain tension. Sometimes it seems that Antonio is about to find the stolen, but every time hope gives way to despair. And it is obvious that their adventure will not end with anything good for the heroes.

4. Rome at 11 o'clock

  • Italy, France, 1952.
  • Drama.
  • Duration: 107 minutes.
  • IMDb: 7, 8.
Best Italian Films: Rome at 11 o'clock
Best Italian Films: Rome at 11 o'clock

In times of total unemployment in Italy, an advertisement for the vacancy of a typist appears in the newspaper. Only one employee is needed, but a whole crowd of girls comes to the interview. When they start arguing and pushing, the ladder breaks down and collapses. As a result, many people are crippled.

The film directed by Giuseppe De Santis also raises the topic of unemployment, which is acute for post-war Italy. Moreover, the picture is based on a real case, and even three girls were shot in it - the victims of that tragedy.

5. Road

  • Italy, 1954.
  • Drama.
  • Duration: 108 minutes.
  • IMDb: 8, 0.

The traveling circus strongman Zampano buys out the village idiot Jelsomina as an assistant. Together they travel across Italy until they meet a wandering circus.

Federico Fellini's masterpiece "The Road" occupies a key place not only in Italian cinema, but in general in world cinema of the 1950s. The tape brought Fellini his first "Oscar" and glorified his wife and muse Juliet Mazina, who was nicknamed "Chaplin in a skirt."

6. Nights of Cabiria

  • Italy, France, 1957.
  • Drama.
  • Duration: 118 minutes.
  • IMDb: 8, 1.

A prostitute named Cabiria dreams of finding a rich patron who would take her from a poor neighborhood. The girl is deceived and used for personal interests, but, despite this, she remains kind to people.

As in the rest of his films, Federico Fellini shows more than tells. With the help of subtle details, he managed to reveal his heroine, performed by Mazina, so that millions of viewers empathized with her. The film received two awards at the Cannes Film Festival and an Oscar.

By the way, another great Italian director, the provocateur Pier Paolo Pasolini, helped to write the script for Fellini. The latter later, in 1962, also shot a story about the difficult life of a prostitute called "Mama Roma".

7. Sweet life

  • France, Italy, 1960.
  • Satire, tragicomedy.
  • Duration: 179 minutes.
  • IMDb: 8, 0.
Best Italian Films: La Dolce Vita
Best Italian Films: La Dolce Vita

The journalist Marcello Rubini is trying to create the main masterpiece of his life. Momentary novels do not hurt his feelings, and even the appearance of the American film star Sylvia cannot bring the hero out of his stupor.

One of the main films Fellini made the star of the little-known Marcello Mastroianni, and also influenced popular culture. So, the term "paparazzi" came from the name of one of the characters - the photographer Paparazzo, and even the name of the picture itself became a household name.

Appearing on the screens, the tape caused a violent scandal, and representatives of the church generally called for it to be banned. They were too embarrassed by the scene where the marble Jesus flies, attached to a helicopter. Although Fellini did not seek to excite the audience: he only wanted to show how empty and meaningless the life of his hero is.

8. Adventure

  • Italy, France, 1960.
  • Drama.
  • Duration: 144 minutes.
  • IMDb: 7, 9.

The daughter of a former diplomat, Anna, goes on a boat trip in the company of friends, but disappears without a trace on one of the islands. The search leads nowhere, after which the bridegroom of the missing girl gets closer to her best friend.

At the 1960 Cannes Film Festival, Michelangelo Antonioni's film had to compete with such masterpieces as Ingmar Bergman's Maiden's Spring and Luis Buñuel's Maiden. But even against such a background, the picture was not lost and simply shocked the critics, both in a good and in a bad sense.

The point is that the plot does not seem to lead anywhere. The tape begins as a detective story, but soon everyone forgets about the disappearance of the heroine. The director is much more interested in the psychology of the heroes than in the plot. This approach seemed strange to many viewers, but later Antonioni's innovative method was appreciated.

9. Accattone

  • Italy, 1961.
  • Drama.
  • Duration: 117 minutes.
  • IMDb: 7, 7.

Loser street pimp Vittorio Accattone slips into poverty after the only girl who works for him is imprisoned. He hates to work honestly, so he finds a new victim - Stella. Later, the hero falls in love with her and even tries to find a job, but in the end he still chooses the criminal path.

Pier Paolo Pasolini's debut film is based on his own novel and reflects the personal experience of the author, who did not hide his connections with prostitutes and often visited the slums. The director wanted to create as lively atmosphere as possible, so he hired non-professional actors and filmed in real Roman back streets.

10.8 and a half

  • Italy, 1963.
  • Tragicomedy.
  • Duration: 138 minutes.
  • IMDb: 7, 8.
Best Italian Films: "8 and a Half"
Best Italian Films: "8 and a Half"

Director Guido Anselmi is preparing for the filming of a new film and at the same time is experiencing a creative crisis. He meets with a variety of people, but the further, the more he doubts that he will create a picture at all.

Along with La Dolce Vita, the tape is considered the pinnacle of Fellini's skill, and at the same time the most autobiographical in his work. The film "8 and a Half" was treated kindly by critics and won many awards, including two Oscars.

11. Leopard

  • Italy, France, 1963.
  • Historical drama.
  • Duration: 185 minutes.
  • IMDb: 8, 0.

Events unfold in 1860 during the Garibaldi era. Prince Salina, an old school nobleman, dearly loves his native Sicily, but sees impending changes. The man hopes to the last that they will only strengthen the established world.

Luchino Visconti's painting tells about parting with the age of aristocracy, and the image of the main character, played by the famous American actor Bert Lancaster, is often interpreted as the director's alter ego. After all, Visconti comes from an ancient Italian aristocratic family, so the theme of honor and dignity is close to the author.

12. Conformist

  • Italy, France, Germany, 1970.
  • Drama.
  • Duration: 111 minutes.
  • IMDb: 8, 0.

The young aristocrat Marcello Clerici, joining the fascist party, is tasked with driving to Paris and killing Professor Quadri there. The man turns out to be a former teacher of the hero in philosophy.

Filming "The Conformist" coincided with director Bernardo Bertolucci's passion for psychoanalysis. Hence the original Freudian interpretation of Mussolini's dictatorship and many explicit scenes. Among other things, the film had a major impact on such iconic New Hollywood films as The Godfather and Apocalypse Now.

13. New cinema "Paradiso"

  • Italy, France, 1988.
  • Drama.
  • Duration: 124 minutes.
  • IMDb: 8, 5.
Shot from the Italian film "New Cinema" Paradiso ""
Shot from the Italian film "New Cinema" Paradiso ""

The little boy Salvatore meets the projectionist Alfredo. As a result, the man replaces the young Toto's father, who did not return from the front, instills in the ward a love of cinema and even helps to find a life purpose.

The film by director Giuseppe Tornatore blew up the Cannes Film Festival and won the Golden Globe and Oscar awards for best foreign film. Despite the fact that the action takes place in post-war Italy, the tape is very light, lively and light. Later, Tornatore also presented the audience with "Malena", "The Legend of the Pianist" and "Best Offer".

14. Life is beautiful

  • Italy, 1997.
  • Drama, comedy.
  • Duration: 116 minutes.
  • IMDb: 8, 6.

The cheerful Jew Guido comes to Italy to open a bookstore and falls in love with the teacher Dora. The heroes marry and become the parents of their son Josue, but their wonderful world is destroyed by the Nazis who came to power.

Roberto Benigni, director and lead actor, took the dark theme of the Holocaust and added a laugh that was previously considered out of place in concentration camp films. But he did it so subtly that "Life is Beautiful" firmly took a place next to "Schindler's List" and other similar paintings.

15. Great beauty

  • Italy, France, 2013.
  • Satire, tragicomedy.
  • Duration: 141 minutes.
  • IMDb: 7, 8.
Still from the Italian film "Great Beauty"
Still from the Italian film "Great Beauty"

The aging writer Jep Gambardella once created a popular novel. Now he goes from one bohemian party to another. But all this does not give him pleasure, but, on the contrary, catches up mortal melancholy.

In the press, the film was called a free remake of the drama La Dolce Vita, and director Paolo Sorrentino was called the successor of Federico Fellini's work. For his work, the director has won many prestigious awards, including the Oscar, Golden Globe and BAFTA, and received the status of the most gifted of contemporary Italian masters.

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