Italian Silent Cinema

Italian Silent Cinema

A Reader
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 10/23/2013
Format: Paperback 45 color illus., 112 b&w illus.
ISBN: 978-0-861-96670-7
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Highly commended,Kraszna-Krausz Foundation's Best Moving Image Book Award, 2014Finalist, 2013 Richard Wall Memorial Award (Theatre Library Association)A Choice Outstanding Academic Title for 2014Winner, 2015 Peter C. Rollins Book Award, Film and Television category

Italian Silent Cinema: A Reader 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. WINNER OF THE SOUTHWEST POPULAR AND AMERICAN CULTURE ASSOCIATION'S 2015 PETER C. ROLLINS BOOK AWARD IN THE CATEGORY OF FILM AND TELEVISION.

Author Bio

Giorgio Bertellini is Associate Professor of Italian and Screen Arts and Cultures at the University of Michigan.


“This overflowing anthology achieves the near-impossible – in detail and aggregate alike a rich comprehensive examination of Italian silent cinema that is at once historical and transnational, providing approaches that identify and clarify the varied contexts for films’ emergence, the products, and the artistic, commercial and socio-political impetus that propelled a vibrant national film culture. Giorgio Bertellini’s book is a gift to the silent film novice (who may not fully grasp this editor’s largesse) and a trustworthy vademecum for the advanced scholar who will be aware of how much has been previously overlooked and which now awaits closer study.”
 — David Mayer, Emeritus Professor, University of Manchester

“From Giorgio Bertellini’s brilliant introduction, which provides a compelling framework for re-evaluating Italian silent cinema, to the final essays, which invite the reader to become an active explorer of this rich cultural heritage, Italian Silent Cinema: A Reader offers a compelling, multi-faceted matrix for all those ready to grapple seriously with a crucial national cinema of the silent era.  Most importantly, its many insights into Italian film culture necessarily require a reevaluation of French, American and other European cinemas of the silent era and alter our understandings of the ways early cinema embodied conceptions of modernity.”
 — Charles Musser, Yale University

“This volume is a major critical and historical reassessment of an important but sometimes overlooked era in Italian filmmaking. For the reader who thinks neorealism of the 1940s marked the entry of Italian film on international screens, this book will be a revelation. The specialist reader will benefit from the book’s inspired emphasis on creating a dialogue between Italian scholars and other film experts from across the globe. The result is that—like its subject—this carefully crafted, copiously illustrated anthology is a marvelous achievement! ”
 — Gaylyn Studlar, David May Distinguished Professor in the Humanities and Director, Program in Film & Media Studies, W

“This wide-ranging and original volume succeeds in its aim of silencing, once and for all, the familiar story that reduces Italy’s cinematic legacy to a few historical epics like Cabiria and Quo Vadis while awaiting Italian cinema’s ultimate deliverance in post WWII neo-realism. The extraordinary thing is that it does so by maintaining a balance between rigorously detailed archival materials, historical specificity, and theoretically acute interpretive analyses. The result is a fascinating reconsideration of the conceptual models that have been foundational for histories of film and visual culture in English-language studies, and an essential reminder that our ability to assess cinema’s past depends on a commitment to international collaboration and translation. Italian Silent Cinema: A Reader represents the very best in film historical scholarship today.”
 — Jennifer Bean, Director of Cinema and Media Studies and Associate Chair of the Department of Comparative Literature

“This is a lavishly produced book, with a gorgeous cover, wonderful illustrations throughout, and excellent editing. . . . Including an extensive bibliography, this is an extremely rich, well-done volume. . . . Highly recommended. ”
 — Choice

“Italian Silent Cinema:A Reader is an incredibly rich text, a must-read for anybody interested in studying the beginnings of cinema in Italy and its multifaceted, interdisciplinary and complex history. In particular, the book is a valuable research tool for conducting work on the period of the so-called golden age of Italian history, 1908–15.”
 — Journal of Modern Italian Studies

“Giorgio Bertellini's Reader is an outstanding work, carefully envisioned and engaging at every page. ”
 — Journal of Italian Cinema and Media Studies

“[P]resents 30 essays on individual companies, stars and genres, the history of Italian film historiography, and the challenges of archival access.45.3 July-Sept. 2014”

“[T]he eagerly anticipated publication of Italian Silent Cinema: A Reader has finally arrived, and it does not disappoint. A veritable labor of love, Bertellini’s lavishly illustrated and masterfully edited volume provides scholars with an essential resource for understanding and exploring Italy’s film culture between 1905 and 1931.”
 — Annali d’italianistica

“Italian Silent Cinema is an invaluable first collection of leading scholarship on the period in the English language, with an impressive bank of resources . . . and a welcome eye to enabling future research. . . . Bertellini’s enthusiasm, twinned with the essays on Italian film archives (Paolo Cherchi Usai), early cinema literature (John P. Welle) and where/how to research both silent films (Ivo Blom) and non-filmic materials (Luca Mazzei), will doubtless prove to be useful and influential to future scholars.”
 — Italian Studies

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Traveling Lightness
PART I: Methods and Objects
Chapter 1: Silent Film Historiography and Italian (Film) Historiography, Gian Piero Brunetta
Chapter 2: A Brief Cultural History of Italian Film Archives (1980-2005), Paolo Cherchi Usai
PART II: Italian Silent Cinema’s Visual Cultures
Chapter 3: Italy and Pre-Cinematic Visual Culture, Carlo Alberto Zotti Minici
Chapter 4: Photography and Cinema, and Vice Versa, Giorgio Bertellini
Chapter 5: Visualizing the Past. The Italian City in Early Cinema, Marco Bertozzi
PART III: Production Companies and Contexts
Chapter 6: The Giant Ambrosio, or Italy's Most Prolific Silent Film Company, Claudia Gianetto
Chapter 7: The "Pastrone System:" Itala Film from the Origins to World War I, Silvio Alovisio
Chapter 8: Rome’s Premiere Film Studio: Società Italiana Cines, Kim Tomadjoglou
Chapter 9: Milano Films: The Exemplary History of a Film Company of the 1910s, Raffaele De Berti
Chapter 10: Southern (and Southernist) Italian Cinema, Giorgio Bertellini
Chapter 11: Italian Cinema in the 1920s, Jacqueline Reich
Chapter 12: From Wonder to Propaganda: The Technological Context of Italian Silent Cinema, Luca Giuliani
PART IV: Genres
Chapter 13: Non-Fiction Production, Aldo Bernardini
Chapter 14: In Hoc Signo Vinces: Historical Films, Giuliana Muscio
Chapter 15: All the same or Strategies of Difference. Early Italian Comedies in International Perspective, Ivo Blom
Chapter 16: The Diva-Film: Context, Actresses, Issues, Angela Dalle Vacche
Chapter 17: Early Italian Serials and (Inter-)National-Popular Culture, Monica Dall’Asta
Chapter 18: Futurist Cinema: Ideas and Novelties, Giovanni Lista
Chapter 19: STRACITTÀ: Cinema, Rationalism, Modernism, and Italy’s "Second Futurism", Leonardo Quaresima
Chapter 20: Istituto Nazionale Luce: a National Company with an International Reach, Pierluigi Erbaggio
PART V: Cinematic Words: On Paper, On S

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