For decenni (decades) Italy and Italians have enjoyed a long and distinguished history on the silver screen. Il bel paese has produced not only wonderful (and beautiful) actors but also great directors, screenwriters and movie music composers. Think Marcello Mastroianni , Ennio Morricone, Federico Fellini, Vittorio Gassman, Ferzan Ospetek (Italian-Turkish, but still Italian), Sofia Loren, Raoul Bova, Totò, Claudia Cardinale, Vittorio De Sica, and the list goes on…
From the serious, thought-provoking postwar years of Neorealism, to a recent growing trend towards Hollywood style comedies, within Italian cinema there lies something for everyone. When I was studying Italian at Queen’s University, I always looked forward to our film classes. Movies, especially the neorealistic ones gave me perspective as they showed me a “slice of life” from a certain time period in Italy. Not to say that everything you see in the movies is true (just watch Federico Fellini’s 8 1/2 and see how fast that myth flies out of your head…) but still, I wanted to feel closer to Italy and Italian movies got me there.
As with my continuous love affair with Italian music, watching Italian movies (even with English or Italian subtitles) helped me grow my understanding of Italian colloquial expressions and Italian cultural references. They also made me consider the different tastes of moviegoers in North America and Italy. So many Italian films, including ones that are supposedly comedies, wouldn’t seem even remotely funny to many North Americans. Italian movies are often bittersweet and usually lack the neat and tidy happy ending that North Americans are hoping for. As the credits are rolling, I end up pondering what I’ve just seen, asking myself, Jeez, is life really like that? Are people really like that? North American comedies don’t have quite the same effect.
Anyways, if you’re looking for a bit of Italian cinema to round out your movie watching habit, take a look at the titles below. Many of these movies can be streamed from various sites, or can magically be found on YouTube. I’ll include the link to the full movie where available, but if not, I’ll link to a good clip for you.
Some of these movies are also available with sottotitoli (subtitles) or even doppiato (dubbed) in English for your viewing pleasure.
Sarah’s Favourite Italian Movies
(In no specific order)