Naples:life,death &
                Miracle contact: Jeff Matthews


                      
Portal for
Literature, Theater,
Poetry & Film


Entries in Naples: Life, Death & Miracles dealing with literature, drama, poetry, theater and film, including general entries about language.

plus: there are three supplementary literature articles below the index on
1. Gabriel D'Annunzio in Naples. Link here
 2. Roberto Bracco,  Link here
                      3. Children's literature,  Link here
                     a fourth item is Film Music & Nino Rota (link here)
                  
What's this? Click image.        


This table, this particular page, and the links on this page will take you through what is available on my site, Naples: Life, Death & Miracles, on the history of Italian film-making. Why didn't I just put everything on one page and be done with it? Because some of the people I mention weren't born when I started the page.
This portal will always be IN PROGRESS but it should all work so far!
(June 19, 2021)
   original index for this page, directly below                    
Early film making in Naples
   NeoRealism 
post-war horror to forget real-war horror
 After Totò, what's so funny? Troisi, Benigni, etc. (below)
 names marked with a red C.
          film making since 2000    (in progress)                           
biography:
Argento, Dario
Baum, Frank
Barra, Giuseppe
Basile, Giambattista
Bertolucci, Bernardo  
Bovio, Libero
Bracco, Roberto
Christie, Agatha
Casanova 
Cervantes
Comencini, Cristina
Croce, Benedetto
Cuoco, Vincenzo
De Angelis, Eduardo C
De Crescenzo, Luciano
C
De Filippo, Eduardo C (1) (2) (3)  (4) (5)
De Filippo, Eduardo (popularity abroad)
De Filippo, Luca
C
De Filippo, Peppino
C
De Sanctis, Francesco
Dumas, Alexander,
Garrone, Matteo
Goethe, J.W.v. (1)  (2)
Lombardo, Gustavo
Lucian
Metastasio (1)   (2)
Norway, Arthur H (1)   (2)
Noschese, Alighiero
C
Notari, Elvira
Ortese, Anna Maria & Naples
Pidgeon, Walter
Rea, Domenico
Rosi, F. (film: i Magliari)
Rota, Nino & film music
Russo, F.  
Russo, V.
Serao, Matilde
Scarfoglio, Edoardo
Taranto, Nino
C
Tornatore, Giuseppe
Totò
C
Troisi, Massimo
C
Villaggio, Paolo
C
Virgil (1)   (2)   (3)   (4)   
Wertmuller, Lina (1) (2) (3) (4)
White, Jesse
(other bios are here)
 
all entries in "Through the eyes of..."  

other entries:


47, Morto che parla (film)
A Special Day (film)
Atella--Comedy Central
Bellini Theater
Books About Naples (1) (2)  (3)  
Bookshops
Children's literature
Cimbrone, villa
Cronaca di Partenope
D'Annunzio (in Naples) (below)
Dante's Easter Egg
Dialect literature in Neapolitan 


Early Film Makers from Naples
Film dubbing
Films of Neo-Realism
Films about Naples  
Ferdinado e Carolina (film)
Frankenstein

Fruit of Christmas, the 
Gallery, The (John Horne Burns)
Garzya, Giacomo
Gate of Heaven, the (V. de Sica)
gestures, hand- (books) & Andrea de
ghost singers in film dubbing
Jorio
Homer & Vico
Greek language (in Italy)   
Io speriamo che me la cavo  
old journals and papers
K666.  Fra Mozart e Napoli (novelle)  
language/s (1)  (2)
La Pegna mobile library
Leopardi, Giacomo 
Latin
libraries (1)  (2)   (3)
Library, National  
Marino, Giambattista
Storia Patria Nostra library   
Muhammad (The Night Ride)  
Munnezza e bellezza  
myths  
Napoletani a Milano (film)  
Napoli nobilissima
Napoli Milionaria (film)
Natale in Casa Cupiello  
Nea Polis (on-line film noir)  
Neapolitan language (1)  (2)
Neapolitan legends
Neo-Realism (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) (8) 
The Odyssey
L'oro di Napoli (1)  (2) 
Pannone, Gianfranco (Sul Vulcano)
The pazzariello  
A Place in the Sun (TV drama)  
Petrarch in/and Naples
Remembrance of things past    
Sannazzaro Theater
Savinio, Alberto
Shakespeare--was he Italian?
Sovente, Michele
Speculum literature
street-life, descriptions
symbols of Naples   
theaters. first in Naples  
The Last Man (Mary Shelley)
The Tempest (Neap. trad. by Eduardo De Filippo)
Trianon Theater 
Vernacular literature
Viaggio in Italia (film, 1954)
Wizard's Secret, the
women's journals 
WW2 novels
Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow (film)
Yiddish

            (Search in the main index for other specific names and places.)
(Also use the Google search function)

to all portals                            to top of this page

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -- - - - - - - - - -- - - - - - - - - -- - - - - -
Supplementary article for literature #1    added 20 Feb 2019     
 
            

Gabriele D'Annunzio in Naples    
by Luciano Mangiafico 


Gabriele D'Annunzio, (1863 – 1938) (image, right), poet, journalist, playwright, valiant soldier in WWI, and Italian irredentist patriot, played a prominent role in Italian literature in the 1890s and 1910s and in later political life from 1914 to 1924. His ideas and style are often viewed as a "coming attractions" preview of Italian Fascism. (Indeed, he was once
described as the John the Baptist of Italian Fascism!) He was all of that in one way or another, and yet he might have been none of that had he not done one simple thing -- he made a short stopover in Naples and then stayed for a while.

Certainly his early years showed no such promise. He was fatuous and flighty -- and a dead-beat. In 1891, D’Annunzio left his wife and children to go live with one of his lovers, Barbara Leoni. He was also a spendthrift, and whatever adroit physical prowess he might have later displayed in WWI was in early life spent keeping one step ahead of his creditors. At a certain point he fled his Rome residence to avoid them and went to Francavilla sul Mare, in the Abruzzi, his native region, as a guest of the famous painter Francesco Paolo Michetti. From there, he left to Sicily with Michetti, planning a stop over in Naples for a few days, but he stayed when Michetti left. Here is where D'Annunzio's plot thickens.

On arrival in Naples on August 30, 1891, he stayed at the luxury Hotel Vesuvio on Via Partenope and, as wrote to his lover, he was enchanted by the sea, the vitality of the city, and the beauty of the landscape. He quickly found a job as a journalist with Matilde Serao and Eduardo Scarfoglio. She was one of the foremost women writers in Italy and he was one of the founders of "Realism" in Italian literature. As husband and wife they founded a number of newspapers, among which was Il Mattino, still the largest Neapolitan daily. They published young journalists, including opinion pieces, editorials and fiction. They published two of D'Annunzio's novels as newspaper serials, L’Innocente and Giovanni Episcopo, plus several books of his poetry, and six short stories, all of which dealt with violence.

As in Rome, D’Annunzio led a very active social and professional life. The Neapolitan author Angelo Conti, a passionate promoter of the music of Richard Wagner, introduced him to literary and musical circles. D'Annunzio became infatuated ("obsessed" is not too strong a word) with the music of Wagner, and, importantly, the philosophy behind it.

Equally important, it was in Naples that he first became acquainted with the works of his German contemporary, Friedrich Nietzsche, which he read in German and introduced to Italians in an article he wrote in September, 1892. Then, in his novel from 1900, Il Fuoco (The Flame of Life) he portrayed himself as the Nietzschean Superman, Stelio Effrena, fictionalizing his love affair with actress Eleonora Duse. He had bought the idea of the "Superman" (G.B. Shaw's brilliant rendering of the German 'Uebermensch' -- lit. 'Overman') and was driven by his views of his own potential that he was indeed that superior individual destined to overcome and transform mass culture and to lead society and culture to a higher plane. Indeed he had out-Nietzche'd Nietzche, for when he read of Nietzsche’s criticism of the nationalism and supposed anti-Semitism in Wagner’s music, he sprang to Wagner’s defense in three newspaper articles published in the summer of 1893, trying to reconcile the views of the two geniuses.

D’Annunzio effortlessly absorbed different cultural and intellectual influences, and with a unique flair. They tell the story that he and the Neapolitan poet, Ferdinando Russo, were having an espresso at the Café Gambrinus, and Russo challenged D'Annunzio to write a song in Neapolitan dialect. D'Annunzio then wrote the poem A Vuchella (The Tiny Mouth) in a few minutes. Composer Francesco Paolo Tosti, D'Annunzio's friend, set the poem to music in 1904 and the song became famous sung by none other than Enrico Caruso.

In Naples and still continuing his affair with Leoni, who had joined him there for a while, he also had an affair with a former lover of Eduardo Scarfoglio and then a new entanglement with the 31-year-old married mother of four, the oversexed Countess Maria Gravina Cruyllas di Ramacca, the married daughter of a Sicilian prince. That affair had started in secret in a small hotel in Naples, but soon Maria moved in with D’Annunzio. She finally went back to her husband, but the affair with D’Annunzio did not end. When her husband lost a large amount of money in financial speculations and moved to his country estate, his wife refused to follow him and moved with her children and a maid to a rented apartment and told her husband that she would seek a legal separation. Husband (count) then went snooping and found wife (countess),
Maria, in bed with (guess who!) D'Annunzio! Husband (count) then challenged D'Annunzio (poet) to a duel. Poet declined (this is all in 1892 and poet is still anticipating a great future in WWI a mere 25 years down the road. He couldn't afford to get shot now!) The count then went to the cops and reported the crime of adultery to the authorities, and the two were indicted. In the meanwhile, Maria’s father had cut off her allowance, and neither she nor D’Annunzio had money to pay the rent, so they moved in with one of her friends, Princess (!) Emma Gallone di Ottaviano, in her castle in the town of Ottaviano. The castle was cold and Maria was pregnant, so after a few months they moved to the town of Resina (now Ercolano). In July 1893, D’Annunzio and Maria were tried, found guilty of adultery, and sentenced to five months in jail; on appeal the sentence was upheld, but there was a royal amnesty in 1894 and everyone walked.

In 1893, the couple had a child, Renata Anguissola, but the relationship was falling apart, as D’Annunzio was still straying
from one bed to another. Creditors were also still hounding him daily. D'Annunzio and Maria lived together on and off until 1897 in Francavilla al Mare, not far from Pescara. Later, Maria moved to Montecarlo (Monaco), became the manager of a small hotel, and died there.


Wait, you say. What does any of this have to do being a poet, journalist, playwright, philosopher, valiant soldier, warmonger, and, as an Italian irredentist patriot, even invading a Croatian city (Fiume, in 1919) declaring it an Italian regency and himself il Duce?*  Uh, nothing, but it has everything to do with him being a philandering deadbeat, which he also was. But he was a poet, he was young, and then Naples does things to you.

*(That really happened. The image on the right is a postage stamp issued by the Italian regency of Fiume in 1919. That is Gabriele D'Annunzio, the proto-Duce, on the front.)
References

1. Albertelli, Enrico. "Le lettere di Ariel. Rassegna Critica dei Carteggi Dannunziani" in Otto/Novecento, XXVII (May/August 2003),      pp. 17-52;
2. Andreoli, Annamaria.
Il Vivere Inimitabile: Vita di Gabriele D’Annunzio. Milan: Mondadori, 2000;
3. Antongini, Tomasso. Vita Segreta di Gabriele D’Annunzio. Milan: Mondadori, 1938;
4. Chiara Piero. Vita di Gabriele D’Annunzio. Milano:  Mondadori, 1978;
5. Gatti G. Le donne nella Vita e nell’Arte di Gabriele D’Annunzio. Modena: Guanda, 1951;
6. Guerri, Giordano Bruno. La Mia Vita Carnale. Amori e Passioni di Gabriele D'Annunzio. Milano: Mondadori, 2013;
7. Hughes-Hallett, Lucy. The Pike: Gabriele D’Annunzio - Poet, Seducer and Preacher of War. London: Fourth Estate, 2013;
8. Iorio, Veronica. Vita di Gabriele D’Annunzio. Kindle edition, 2014;
9. Jullian, Philippe. D’Annunzio. New York: Viking Press, 1973;
10. Laurenzi, Laura. Amori e Furori. Milan: Rizzoli,1999;
11. Saglimbeni, Gaetano.
D’Annunzio, Follie a Letto, con Truffe. (external link)<,
12. Woodhouse, John R. Gabriele D'Annunzio: Defiant Archangel. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -- - - - - - - - - -- - - - - - - - - -- - - - - -
Supplementary article for literature #2    added 9 May 2020     



                ROBERTO BRACCO (1861-1943)

 by

Luciano Mangiafico


Introduction

Roberto Bracco died in Sorrento on April 20, 1943. He had been a celebrity but by then had become unknown. Most of the press didn't mention his death, and only a few friends were at his funeral in Naples. By their very presence they showed their disdain for the Fascist regime and their solidarity with Bracco. In the early 1920s Bracco was nominated six times for the Nobel Prize for Literature. He never won because of Mussolini’s personal opposition. His many plays, both comedies and tragedies, were acclaimed in most European countries and in the Americas, rivaling in popularity those of D’Annunzio and Pirandello.

Bracco was a playwright, poet, novelist, essayist, lyricist and screenwriter. His love of freedom and democracy, however, made him an enemy of the regime. Fascist goons harassed him, physically assaulted him, and turned him into a non-person. Theater companies wouldn't put on his plays and almost no publisher dared print what he wrote. For his last fourteen years, he lived a semi-solitary life in poverty, made more difficult by ill health. His honor, integrity and the strength of his convictions, however, kept him from asking for help. Indeed, he turned down and sent back money from Mussolini. He died as he lived: a man with principles who would not compromise with dictators.


Roberto Bracco's Life


Bracco was born in Naples in 1861 and was the grandson of the founder and director of the Royal Botanical Garden of Naples. His immediate family lived in Naples on Via San Gregorio Armeno, still the well-known street of craftsmen who make nativity scenes, the presepi.


He was not a good student and quit school to work as a porter for a transport and moving company. He took ill and his parents sent him off to recuperate in the countryside near Castellammare di Stabia, where he lodged in a small hotel run by the Ossani family, frequented by journalists and intellectuals. Here he fell in love with a young girl of Greek origin. When he returned to Naples, he learned that the girl had innocently shown his love letters to the Ossani family. They, in turn, liked the way he wrote and showed the letters to Martino Cafiero, the editor of the Corriere del Mattino of Naples. On the basis of those letters, Cafiero offered Bracco a job and set him to work writing fiction that was then serialized in the paper. His first work was Una Parentisi (An Interval); his style was simple --adventures and realism, a combination of Manzoni and Dumas. The common reader liked that style and it sold newspapers.


When Cafiero died, Bracco wrote for Matilde Serao and Edoardo Scarfoglio at their Corriere di Napoli as a music and theater critic. He then followed them to their new venture, Il Mattino, which became a popular opinion-shaping paper, with works by D’Annunzio, Ferdinando Russo, and many others.  That paper (still in existence) included  serialized novels by such authors as Dostoevsky and de Maupassant. As theater critic, Bracco mingled with actors and directors in the Italian cultural world, and in 1886 actor Ermete Novelli (1851-1919) asked him to write a comedy for his troupe. The comedy, Non Fare ad Altri (Don’t do unto Others), played in December of 1886 and was a notable success. His comedies and dramas kept coming, and some of the best Italian actors of the day performed his thirty-six plays; among them Maschere (1893), Sperduti nel Buio (1901), I Fantasmi (1906), and I Pazzi (1922). His lyrics for Neapolitan songs include: Salamelic (1882), Comme te voglio amà (1887), Africanella (1894), Sentinella (1917), and ‘O Munaciello (1924). He even composed the music for the song ‘A Francetta to lyrics by Salvatore Di Giacomo.


Between 1881 and 1926 his astonishing output included ten novels, a collection of poems, four opera libretti, and several shorter pieces. He saw in the new medium of film the potential for a new art form and 17 of his own plays became movies. Film historians see one of them, Sperduti nel Buio (Lost in the Dark) as an early precursor of Neo-Realism. Here the trail goes cold. There is confusion as to what happened, physically, to the film Sperduti nel Buio -- to the reel(s)  themselves. Does the film still exist? Can we watch it? The most common opinion is that it is "lost", either taken away by the Germans as they retreated from Rome in 1944 and then, who knows where? Thus this great silent film of early realism by Roberto Bracco simply wound upon the staggering waste heap of everything else crunched, burned and bombed into nothingness in WWII. That is certainly a possibility; yet there is another one.


Italian state radio and television, RAI, addressed this in 2018. They say, plausibly, that after the Germans set up their puppet state, the Repubblica Sociale Italiana (RSI) in 1943, Mussolini had most of the movie archives of the Italian School of Cinematography in Rome moved north. The movie reels, including Sperduti nel Buio, went by train to Venice. Film sleuths have found a list of those movies, including Sperduti nel Buio (no. 18 on the list). It looks as if that film and many others probably ended up in Germany. Historians have tried to trace the train after it got to Venice, where the RSI was to re-found the Italian film industry. The Germans were obsessed with getting as many Italian films as possible to Germany and storing then in secret sites. What really happened to the train and the movie reels? Here comes the very "iffy" part. Maybe they're in Moscow, moved there by the Red Army after the fall of the Nazi regime. I have no idea why the Russkies don't tell us.


Since 1962 "Teatro Bracco" has been housed on the premises
of the Palazzo Spinello di Tarsia, the large, yellow structure
in the center of this image. Now Bracco has his own theater.
These things take time, you know.

Bracco was versatile and eclectic. He moved from one genre to another easily (which made some critics say he lacked depth and was more an imitator that an original). Bracco avoided the romanticism and naturalism of the fin de siècle. If he had an “-ism” it was intimism, exploring the mysteries of the soul, sometimes aiming at wider social problems. He wrote in standard Italian. (Only one of his plays is in Neapolitan.) His appeal was humanistic, universal and modern. Thus, his plays, like those of D’Annunzio, for different reasons, often played abroad in that period. I have no idea what Bracco would say to the irony of the Teatro Bracco, named for him (who wrote almost exclusively in standard Italian) being a venue for plays in Neapolitan dialect. He might have liked the irony -- or he might have bitten someone in the head! (two paragraphs below)


This theater is not the only memorial to Bracco. In and near Naples there are a number of memorial marble plaques, some put up soon after the war ended (May 8, 1945). The oldest one in Naples is at the entrance to Via Tasso 65, where he lived for many years (image, right). In translation, it reads: “To the memory of Roberto Bracco, who in the dark years of the dictatorship lived in this house among the ghosts of his art and the tenacious nobility of his ideals of liberty. The city, fulfilling the promise of the people of Naples, set this plaque on April 20, 1946.” There are others: a plaque on the building where he was born; a street named for him; and a plaque in Sorrento on the villa where he lived in WWII. In Agerola (near Positano) where he vacationed during the summer, there is a plaque in front of the town hall to honor him and one of his plays, reading, “From this alpine refuge in 1909 the avant-garde art of Roberto Bracco gave to the Italian theater with Il Piccolo Santo, the example of tragedy in which men stay silent when mystery speaks. The Municipality, 1947.”

Bracco was outgoing, generous and faithful in his friendship, but also highly emotive and rash. As a young man, he fought at least six duels with swords. He was once a defendant in a criminal case, charged with assaulting future Italian Prime Minister Francesco Saverio Nitti (1868-1953) by biting him on the head (!) after Nitti criticized his first play. At the trial, the judge said that the two should make peace. Bracco apologized and the judge dismissed the case. After they left the courtroom, Bracco walked over to Nitti and said: “Vuje site nu’ fetente!” (You're a piece of crap!).


At age 60, Bracco met Aurelia Del Vecchio (1900-61), whom he called Laura, a beautiful girl in her early twenties, almost 40 years younger than he was. They fell in love and she moved in. They were together for 20 years. It's almost as simple as that. Bracco did not talk much about his earlier affairs of the heart, yet the letters between the two show their solid, loving bond. He trusted her and depended on her for companionship and for advice. He spoke of her to a friend and said, "This is the kind of love that lasts forever." They were finally married in 1939.


Bracco got into political hot water as early as 1915, when his one-act comedy
L’Internazionale (The Internationale) played in Naples. Italy had joined World War I in May of 1915, and this sweet-sad comedy about anti-war sentiment and feminism was not popular.
In 1919, Bracco was one of only two Italian intellectuals (the other was Benedetto Croce) to sign the Declaration for the Independence of the Mind drafted by Romain Rolland (1866–1944), calling for the intellect and the arts to lift the human spirit and bring humanity together, regardless of ethnic background, social class, or national origin. That kind of pacifist internationalism was something else Fascists would later hold against Bracco. In 1922 he published a new play, I Pazzi (The Insane), with its idea that the line between sanity and mental illness is uncertain. It caused a furor among critics.


In April 1924, Bracco ran for the Italian Parliament and was elected as a member of the anti-Fascist coalition led by philosopher Giovanni Amendola. In 1926 there was an attempt on Mussolini's life. The Fascist majority in parliament then dissolved all opposition parties, expelling the members. The same night as the assassination attempt, anti-Fascists were violently attacked all over Italy. In Naples, Fascist hoodlums broke into Bracco’s home and destroyed his books.

As noted, Bracco was nominated for the Nobel Prize for Literature numerous times in the 1920s. He never got it. His own Italian government opposed him! Authorities denied permits to stage his plays, or stage companies would simply not put them on. Newspapers, for their part, were afraid to print his pieces. In 1929, actress Emma Gramatica (1874-1965) personally asked Mussolini to let Bracco's 1922 play I Pazzi run in Naples and the Duce said 'yes'. The first performance at the Teatro dei Fiorentini in Naples in June of 1929 was a critical and popular success, but a month later Gramatica took the play to the Teatro Eliseo in Rome, where Fascist thugs stopped the show when they broke in to  the theater and roughed up spectators. The play was not staged again in Italy until after WWII.


In 1936, when Bracco was ill and strapped for money, Gramatica wrote to ask the government for financial help for Bracco. Mussolini sent him 10,000 lire in care of the actress. When she delivered the check, Bracco refused it. His obscurity continued after his death. Maybe there were reasons for that. Was his work too facile, dated, without depth? Well, that's an opinion, and you're entitled to it. Another reason, however, might have been his stubborn refusal to bend with the prevailing winds. His decency was a sad reminder, a reproach to the majority of intellectuals who had closed their eyes and their minds under Fascism. His moral stance was also profoundly un-Italian. That is, he was either a fesso (fool) or, even worse, a saint ignoring the centuries-old Italian trait of adapting to all circumstances, to be a chameleon, to survive at all costs.


Selected References

1. Bonsaver, Giorgio. Mussolini Censore: Storie di Letteratura, Dissenso e Ipocrisia. Bari: La Terza, 2013.

2. Costagliola, Aniello. Roberto Bracco. Nuova Antologia di Lettere, Scienze ed Arti. Roma: Nuova Antologia, 1908, pp. 571-98.

3. Galassi, Chiara. Roberto Bracco: Il Teatro in una Società che Cambia. L’Italianistica oggi: ricerca e didattica, Atti del XIX           Congresso dell’ADI - Associazione degli Italianisti (Rome, 9-12 September 2015).

4. Iaccio P. L’ Intellettuale Intransigente. Il Fascismo e Roberto Bracco. Napoli: Guida, 1992.

5. Iaccio, Pasquale. Lettere a Laura, Napoli: Di Mauro Ed., 1994.

6. MacClintock, Lander. Roberto Bracco. The North American Review, 1919. Reprinted in Early Journal Content on JSTOR.

7. Parisi, Pasquale. Roberto Bracco. La Sua Vita, La Sua Arte, I Suoi Critici. Palermo: Remo Sandron, 1923.

8. Pullini, Giorgio. Bracco, Roberto. Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani, Volume 13 (1971).


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

  •   reader's comment: "Excellent work. The world needs all the Braccos it can get these days." -N.P. Seattle, Wash.


  •  [editorial comment from jm]
If the Nobel Prize for Literature is as politically motivated as many people think, then maybe it's not that big a deal if Bracco never got one. The bigger deal is the reason: he was an anti-Fascist, his government was a Fascist dictatorship and Mussolini pressured the Swedish Academy. I don't know how -- by threatening to invade Sweden?

Maybe literary prizes are silly anyway. British poet, critic and editor, Geoffrey Grigson, wrote: "It is extraordinary, an
act of illiterates, to give prizes for literature...Ridiculous poets do not cease to be ridiculous when eight other poets and eighteen critics and three selectors of the Poetry Book Society say they are sublime."

Looking back over the century or so of Nobel Prizes, you (and I) have never heard of some of the winners, approve of some, and
disapprove of others. But if they insist on giving these things out, Bracco is in good company. Here is a very short list of great writers who were rejected for that prize (a few of them were not even nominated):

                Leo Tolstoy, Henrik Ibsen, Henry James, Émile Zola, James Joyce, Mark Twain, Ezra Pound

    But writers generally need money and will take it if you insist. W.B. Yeats supposedly said on hearing by telephone that     he had won the 1923 Nobel Prize for literature: "Stop babbling, man! How much?" 


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -- - - - - - - - - -- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Supplementary article for literature #
3    added 28 Jan  2021  


nce Upon a Time...

Magic princess Aida, who dwells somewhere over the icebow in Vancouver B.C., asked what I knew about Gianni Rodari (1920–1980) Italy's author of children's literature. Translations exist in many languages, and with a new one in English out now, his reputation will grow. I'm afraid that my own exposure to Italian children's literature in my youth was limited to Pinocchio by Collodi (pen name of Carlo Lorenzini, 1826-90) and only because I had seen the 1943 Disney animated cartoon. For
"When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things."[1 Corinthians 13:11 KJV].
No doubt I dreamed as a child, but now that I'm headlong into my second childhood, I want another crack at some of this stuff. I remember Peter Rabbit (about a bunny), and Tom Sawyer (a kid on a raft on the mighty Mississippi now you're talkin'!), and Tarzan (what can I say? I can still do the yell!) by E.R. Burroughs. I did not yet know the Italian equivalent, an Indonesian/Malaysian pirate/Robin Hood named Sandokan, brainchild of Emilio Salgari (1862-1911), a great story teller who knew as little/much about Malaysia as E.R.B. did about Africa. But they sure could make stuff up! In those days I never thought that authors of "real literature" such as Stevenson, Kipling, Wells, Auden, etc. would take pleasure in writing for young and old alike, bringing them together, letting them share and enjoy the same tales and poetry. Thus, I am unfit to spout off about children's literature. I'm just using Aida's question to tell you briefly about another author.

Dino Buzzati (1906 – 1972) was an Italian novelist, short story writer, painter and poet, as well as a journalist for Corriere della Sera. His fame is mostly from his 1940 novel The Tartar Steppe, though he is also known for his short stories. The Tartar Steppe was well received and ranked 29th in Le Monde's "100 Books of the Century". Buzzati entered the world of children's literature with his 1945 book, The Bears' Famous Invasion of Sicily, about a group of bears living in the mountains of Sicily during a harsh winter. The bears are hungry and decide to invade the Grand Duchy of Sicily to survive. They run into humans and have a few scrapes, but ... well, go read it. Just as good, go see the Italian-French animated cartoon, directed by Lorenzo Mattotti (the image, above, is the intro from the cartoon). It screened at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival and was highly praised. One reviewer said it was charming and "refreshingly different," giving parents a good reason to take children to see it. [Spoiler alert] It ends...

...Happily Ever After
................................................................

Film making since 2000

IN PROGRESS

We may assume (1) that there are no film-making child prodigies, (2) we are discussing directors born anound 1980,(3) musicians, painters, mathematicians, and film producers almost anyone knows something about the past, and the more these people know about the history of music, painting, math, and film-making, the less likely they are to believe that Athena sprang forth full-blown and grown from the brow of Zeus (in Greek mythology. It's Jupiter/Jove in Roman mythology).

Here are some random items of general interest from 2000-2020 about Italian films:
  • In 2001 Nanni Moretti's film La stanza del figlio (The Son's Room) received the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival;
  • Paolo Sorrentino's La Grande Bellezza (The Great Beauty) won the 2014 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film;
  • The two highest-grossing Italian films in Italy were both directed by Gennaro Nunziante: Sole a catinelle (2013) with €51.8 million, and Quo Vado? (2016) with €65.3 million.
  • They Call Me Jeeg, a 2016 critically acclaimed superhero film directed by Gabriele Mainetti and starring Claudio Santamaria  won 8 David di Donatello, 2 Silver Ribbons and a Golden Globe.
  • In 2008 Paolo Sorrentino's Il Divo (The Star), a biographical film based on the life of Giulio Andreotti, won the Jury prize, and Gomorra, a crime drama film, directed by Matteo Garrone won the Gran Prix at the Cannes Film Festival.
  • Gianfranco Rosi's documentary film Fire at Sea (2016) won the Golden Bear at the 66th Berlin International Film Festival.
  • In 2010 Perfect Strangers by Paolo Genovese made the Guinness World Records as the most remade film in cinema history, with a total of 18 versions of the film.
    Some noteworthy recent Italian films include: Jona che visse nella balena (Jonah who lived in the whale) directed by Roberto Faenza; Il grande cocomero (The Great Pumpkin by Francesca Archibugi; Le chiavi di casa (The Keys to the House) by Gianni Amelio; Io non ho paura (I'm Not Scared) by Gabriele Salvatores; La finestra di fronte (Facing Windows ) by Ferzan Özpetek; Buongiorno, notte (Good Morning, Night) by Marco Bellocchio; La meglio gioventù (The Best of Youth) by Marco Tullio Giordana; Luca Guadagnino's thematic Desire trilogy, which received widespread acclain, including the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay in 2018.
   Those are a few names of films and directors that have come to prominence since 2000. Precise statistics are hard to come by and, in any event, have been totally skewed by the pandemic. It remains to be seen how a people
that were once avid film goers under normal conditions will react to the "new normal", whatever that is. The
older pre-plague stats were impressive: in 2013 there were 3,217 movie screens in Italy and in that year Italy made
180 feature films and 93 documentaries. In 2018 there were 86 million tickets sold. That's about 1.5 per capita. (I didn't go that year, so I think someone owes me some money.) Most stat charts I looked at put Italy in 6th or 7th place in the world on those metrics, more or less like Spain, Germany, and France. I would have then guessed India and Japan. They're up there, too. Surprisingly, the U.S. was not in first place. Who knew Nigeria made so many films?



1. Cristina Comencini - (b. 1956 in Rome) is a film director, screenwriter and novelist. Her 2005 film The Beast in the Heart, based on her own novel La bestia nel cuore (Don't Tell), was nominated  for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. Her upcoming film When the Night, also based on her own novel and published in the United States by Other Press, is scheduled to compete at the 68th Venice International Film Festival in September. She tarted making films in 1989 and so far has made 12. Her recent Tornare (Feel Your Memories) movie reunites her with acclaimed Giovanna Mezzogiorno fourteen years after “La Bestia nel Cuore”.
-----------------------------------------------------

2. Edoardo de Angelis   see link

3. Matteo Garrone -
(b.1968 in Rome) is a filmmaker. In 1966 he won the Sacher d'Oro, an award sponsored by Nanni Moretti, with the short film Silhouette. It that became one of the three episodes that are on his first long feature, Terra di Mezzo in 1997. He won Best Director at the European Film Awards and at the David di Donatello Awards for Gomorrah (2008).. His film Reality (2012) competed in competition at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival and won the Grand Prix. His films Tale of Tales (2015) and Dogman (2018) were selected to compete for the Palme d'Or at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival and the 2018 Cannes Film Festival respectively. He won Garrone both Best Producer and Best Director with Dogman. He received the latter again for Pinocchio (2019).

4. Luca Guadagnino - (born 1971 in Palermo, Sicily) is a filmmaker. He spent his early childhood in Ethiopia, where his father taught history and Italian literature at a technical school in Addis Ababa (his mother was Alegerian). The family left Ethiopia for Italy in 1977 to escape the Ethiopian Civil War, settling in Palermo. He cites early influences as Psycho (1960), Suspiria (1977) Starman (1984) and a particular fondness for the films of Ingmar Bergman. From 1999 to the present, his film have included The Protagonists, Mundo Civilizado, Cuoco Contadino, and Call Me by Your Name. So far he has made 11 feature films, 11 shorts, and 10 documentaries and been nominated for best direction at film festivals around the world (and won some of them) from Venice to Berlin to Melbourne to Los Angeles. His university degree is in literature and cinema history from the Sapienza University of Rome. His thesis was on American filmmaker Jonathan Demme (director of The Silence of the Lambs). Guadagnino's plans seem to be boundless, including possibly directing Stanley Kubrick's unrealized Holocaust project Aryan Papers.


5. Mario Martone (b.1959) is a film director and screenwriter. He has directed 18 films since 1985. His film L'amore molesto was entered into the 1995 Cannes Film Festival. His 2010 film Noi credevamo competed for the Golden Lion at the 67th Venice International Film Festival. He was the stage director for Lorenzo Ferrero's opera Charlotte Corday, premiered at Teatro dell'Opera di Roma on 21 February 1989. His 2014 film Leopardi was selected to compete for the Golden Lion at the 71st Venice International Film Festival. His 2019 crime drama Il sindaco del Rione Sanità (The Mayor of Rione Sanità), based on the 1960 play of the same name by Eduardo De Filippo, was selected to compete for the Golden Lion at the 76th Venice International Film Festival.


6. Giovanni "Nanni" Moretti - (born 1953, in Bruneck) is a director, producer, screenwriter, and actor. In 1973 he directed his first two short films: Pâté de bourgeois and La sconfitta (The Defeat). In 1976 his first feature film came out, Io sono un autarchico (I Am Self-Sufficient). In 1978, he wrote, directed and starred in Ecce Bombo; it was screened at the Cannes Festival. Sogni d'oro (Sweet Dreams) won the Silver Lion at the 38th Venice International Film Festival. La messa è finita won the Silver Bear – Special Jury Prize at the 36th Berlin International Film Festival. He is best known for his films Caro Diario (Dear Diary, 1993) and La Stanza del figlio (The Son's Room, 2001), the latter of which won the Palme d'Or at the 2001 Cannes Film Festival. His other work has not been widely seen outside Europe, but within his country Moretti is known as a maker of wryly humorous and eccentric films, usually starring himself! His most recent role was in the film Mia Madre (My Mother, 2015). Since 1976 he has made 13 feature films, 13 shorts, and 3 documentaries.

7.
Gennaro Nunziante- (b. in 1963 in Bari) is a film director. He directed the three highest-grossing Italian films ever, headed by Quo Vado?(2016)  (Where am I going?), then Sole a catinelle (2013), and then Cado dalle nubi (2009). The pseudo-Latin title of Quo vado? (Italian would be Dove Vado?) is a pun not so much on Sienkiewicz's 1896 book Quo Vadis? as on what that title refers to in Christian tradition: they are Peter's first words to the risen Christ during their encounter along the Appian Way, recounted in the Vulgate (Latin translation) of the Bible by Jerome of Stridon. Nunziante usually teams up with Checco Zalone. The former is the director, and the latter the actor. Quo Vado became the highest-grossing Italian film of all-time in Italy, passing Roberto Benigni's Life Is Beautiful, which, however, still retains the worldwide grossing record for an Italian film.

8.
Gianfranco Rosi  - (b. 1963) is an Italian-American documentary filmmaker. His 2013 film Sacro GRA (Grande Raccordo Anulare, the ring-road highway that circles Rome) won the Golden Lion at the 70th Venice Film Festival, while his 2016 film Fire at Sea won the Golden Bear at the 66th Berlin Film Festival. Rosi is the only documentary filmmaker to win two highest awards at the three major European film festivals (Venice, Berlin, and Cannes). He was also nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature for Fire at Sea.


9. Leonardo Guerra Seràgnoli  (born in Roma, 1980) is a film director, screenwriter and producer. He made his first film, a short, Carne e Cielo (Flesh and Heaven) in 2006. He founded a production company Essentia to make his own independent films. He has a diploma (2012) from the London Film School and in 2015 took part in the Berlinale Talents expositionHis first feature film was Last Summer and previewed at the Rome Film Festival where it received special mention for a first film. His second feature film, Likemeback, was shown in 2018 at the Locarno Festival (Switzerland) in the section on Films of the Present. His third feature Gli Indifferenti (The Time of Indifference), was highly anticipated and is based on the novel of the same name by Alberto Moravia and has recently been released in streaming format. So far he has 7 shorts and 3 features.


10. Stefano Sollima -(born Rome 4 May 1966) is a director and screenwriter and from a family of such "film people". He started his career as a camera operator on reports from war zones for several television networks, including CNN, CBS, and NBC.[He is best known for his crime-drama films such as ACAB – All Cops Are Bastards (2012), Suburra (2015), and Sicario [hired killer]: Day of the Soldado (2018), as well as the television series Romanzo criminale – (2006–2008); Gomorrah (2014–present, based on the 2006 non-fiction book of the same name by Roberto Saviano) and ZeroZeroZero (2020–present). His Suburra was co-produced by Netflix and developed into a prequel television series, the first Italian Netflix original series.  He has won various awards for Best Director and Best New Director. So farm he 4 features and a number of TV series.

11. Gabriele Salvatores - (born in Naples, 1950) is an Academy Award-winning director and screenwriter.  He started as a theater director in 1972, founding the Teatro dell'Elfo in Milan, for which he directed several avant-garde pieces until 1989. In that year, he directed his third feature film, Marrakech Express, which was followed in 1990 by Turné, which was screened in the Un Certain Regard section at the 1990 Cannes Film Festival. In 1991, Salvatores received international praise for Mediterraneo, which won an Academy Award as best foreign film. It won three David di Donatello, the most important award for Italian cinema, and a Silver Ribbon. 20 feature films so far.

 
12. Paolo Sorrentino - (b. 1970)[1] is a film director, screenwriter, writer, and songwriter. His 2013 film La Grande Bellezza won the Academy Award and the Golden Globe for the  Foreign Language Film. His direction and screenplays, including Il Divo, The Consequences of Love, The Family Friend, This Must Be the Place, and the 2016 TV series The Young Pope, have won three Cannes Lions, three Venice Film Festival Awards and four European Film Awards. He has published three novels in Italian.


13. Giuseppe Tornatore - (born in Bagheria near Palermo in Sicily in 1956) is an Italian film director and screenwriter.  In a career spanning over 30 years he is best known for directing and writing drama films such as Everybody's Fine, The Legend of 1900, Malèna, Baarìa and The Best Offer. His most noted film is Cinema Paradiso, for which he won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film and made everyone in the world nostalgic for small-town Sicily. As a youth he staged and directed plays of Luigi Pirandello and Eduardo De Filippo, worked as a freelance photographer, then made his film debut with Le minoranze etniche in Sicilia (The Ethnic Minorities in Sicily), a collaborative documentary that won a Salerno Festival prize. He then worked for RAI (Italian radio and TV) before releasing his first full-length film, Il Camorrista, in 1985 for which he won an award for best new director. Tornatore is also known for his association with composer Ennio Morricone, who composed music for thirteen Tornatore feature films.


14. Paolo Virzì - (1964 in Livorno) is a film director, writer and producer.  Since 1994 he has made 14 feature films. His trademark style is the commedia all'italiana"  the "Italian-style comedy". His first film was The Beautuful Life, which won acclaim at the Venice International Film Festival, along with the Best New Director award. He has done satirical comedies such as  "Tutta la vita davanti" [You Whole Life Awaits You] and some straight drama such as his 2010 film The First Beautiful Thing, a film following a family over the course of 40 years that was selected as Italy's submission for Best Foreign Language Film at that year's Academy Awards.

15. Bernardo Bertolucci  -(1941 – 2018) was a director and screenwriter, whose films include The Conformist, Last Tango in ParisThe Last Emperor (which won 9 Academy Awards (he got one statuette; it said Best Everything) The Sheltering Sky,
Little Buddha, Stealing Beauty and The Dreamers. In recognition of his work, he was given the first Honorary Palme d'Or Award at the opening ceremony of the 2011 Cannes Film Festival. He was born in  Parma, in the region of Emilia-Romagna and began writing early: His father's  background helped his career: the elder Bertolucci was a poet, art historian, and film critic and had helped the Italian filmmaker Pier Paolo Pasolini publish his first novel, and Pasolini reciprocated by hiring Bertolucci as first assistant in Rome on Accattone (1961). The high (or low) point of his career was his 1972 film The Last Tango in Paris, starring Marlon Brando and Maria Schneider. The film cause a great scandal and after the film's release, Schneider became a drug addict and suicidal. Criminal proceedings were brought against Bertolucci in Italy for the rape scene; the film was sequestered by the
censorship commission, a situation that was eventually resolved.
The Last Emperor was his most acclaimed film. The Last Tango in Paris was the most controversial. Between 1962 and his death, he made 21 feature films and 4 documentaries.

---------------------------------



In progress



                                                            to all portals                      to top of this page
© 2002 - 2021
-