A History of Italian Cinema by Peter Bondanella

A History of Italian Cinema by Peter Bondanella
A History of Italian Cinema by Peter Bondanella

Just picked up this book from a Waterstones in Bournemouth, of all places.  Way back in 1984, or something like that, Bondanella wrote Italian Cinema: From Neorealism to the Present, which is still the essential textbook when it comes to the history of Italian cinema.  However, as with just about all film criticism from that period, it suffered from the fact that it treated popular or genre cinema as a curiosity, rather than an integral and important element of cinema history in its own right.

Bondanella’s happy to acknowledge as much, and A History of Italian Cinema is partly a re-write of the previous book, partly an opening out of it.  There’s still a lot of neo-realism, which is still seen as the key Italian film movement (albeit one that wasn’t quite so iconoclastic or novel as generally supposed), but this is accompanied by lengthy discussions on genres such as peplums, westerns, poliziotteschi and gothic horror.  Similarly, his examination of Italian comedy films actually includes a section on Franco & Ciccio.

I haven’t had the chance to read much of it, just the section on peplums so far.  It’s limited, being mainly an introduction and a a discussion on six of the major peplum films (Hercules, Hercules Unchained, Hercules and the Captive Women, Samson and the Seven Miracles of the World, Hercules in the Centre of the Earth and Maciste in Hell).  If brief, it’s interesting, and certainly more so than the cursory treatments of the genre to be found most of the other similar books around at the moment.  Bondanella also scores points for writing in a simple, direct style that’s eminently readable (as opposed to the jargon-riddled drivel that seems to be the style of choice for film academics).

Anyway, you can pick it up for just over a tenner from Amazon

About Matt Blake 890 Articles
The WildEye is a blog dedicated to the wild world of Italian cinema (and, ok, sometimes I digress into discussing films from other countries as well). Peplums, comedies, dramas, spaghetti westerns... they're all covered here.

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