This book explores the largely forgotten world of Italian silent cinema, including its historical epics, comedies, serials, and romance melodramas. Thirty essays by leading scholars examine topics such as pre-cinema, international distribution, stardom, acting styles, literary adaptation, futurism, nonfiction filmmaking, and local exhibition. This groundbreaking and richly illustrated volume introduces scholars and students alike to a wealth of films, archival documents, and critical research.
For some time now, historical studies have indicated how the nascent Italian film industry helped to shape national identity, acting as a pedagogical tool to revive popular events. Many films made during the early years of the twentieth century focus on the relationship between history and politics, and the educational approach taken in these films was often used to paint an uplifting and conciliatory picture of events leading up to the Unity of Italy. 'La Presa di Roma' (1905) - traditionally considered the first Italian feature film made by Filoteo Alberini, freemason of the Grand Orient of Italy, and 'Il piccol garibaldino' (1909) - are two important works that help reconstruct the relationship between the cinema and the Risorgimento. They also show how powerful the cinema was as a propaganda tool in a Nation still in search of an identity. It contains essays by Lucio Villari, Giovanni lasi, Mario Musumeci, Irela Nuñez, Roberto Balzani and Sergio Toffetti on the two film films, on the nascent Italian film industry and on the historical and political scenario of that period. The book comes with a DVD of the film La presa di Roma and Il piccolo garibaldino restored by the Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia - Cineteca Nazionale.
Italian film star Bartolomeo Pagano's "Maciste" played a key role in his nation's narratives of identity during World War I and after. Reich reveals Maciste as a figure who both reflected classical ideals of masculine beauty and virility (later taken up by Mussolini and used for political purposes) and embodied the model Italian citizen.