Italian Cinema Resources in the Mercer County Library System

Italian filmmaking, especially since the end of the Second World War, has entertained audiences around the world and provided inspiration for many filmmakers in the United States, including Martin Scorsese,  director of the documentary Il Mio Viaggio in Italia (My Voyage in Italy).  At the Mercer County Library, we have a wide selection of DVDs of classic Italian films by directors such as Fellini, Visconti, Antonioni and Pasolini, de Sica and others who are known around the world for their contributions to filmmaking.

In addition, we have books that discuss the history of Italian cinema and individual directors. Anyone who wants to research the contributions Italy has made to world cinema will find plenty to focus on at the Mercer County Library System.

Books on Italian Cinema:

A good overview for beginners is A History of Italian Cinema by Peter Bondanella. This gives an overview of Italian cinema from the postwar era to the present, including neorealism, comedy, horror, westerns and giallo (crime) films.

You can read more about the films of significant Italian directors in these books at the Mercer County Library System:

Fellini: the biography by John Baxter. Chronicles the life of Federico Fellini, perhaps the most famous Italian director of the 20th century, telling the story behind the making of all his major films, including Otto e mezzo (8 1/2) and La Strada.

Antonioni: the poet of images by William Arrowsmith. Eight essays by a noted critic examining 8 of the celebrated director Michelangelo Antonioni’s most famous films, including Blow-up and L’avventura.

Broken mirrors, broken minds: the dark dreams of Dario Argento by Maitland McDonagh.  Examines the symbolism  and imagery in the films of Italy’s most famous horror director, Dario Argento.

Once upon a time in Italy: the westerns of Sergio Leone by Christopher Frayling. Featuring extensive photographs, poster art as well as interviews with Leone and key collaborators such as Ennio Morricone, this book examines the legendary Westerns of this director, including A Fistful of Dollars and The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.

A selection of Italian films on DVD:

Bicycle thieves (Ladri de biciclette) dir. by Vittorio de Sica (1948) A classic of post-war neorealist cinema, this film tells the story of a father and his son as they desperately search Rome trying to find a stolen bicycle which is the father’s only means of transportation.

Otto e mezzo (8 ½) dir. by Federico Fellini (1963) Fellini’s autobiographical chronicle of a filmmaker losing his inspiration in the middle of making his latest film.

L’Avventura dir. by Michelangelo Antonioni (1960) After a girl goes missing on an island, her fiancee and her friend search through Italy to find her.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, dir. by Sergio Leone.  Starring Clint Eastwood(1966) Three men set out to find a missing fortune in this classic Spaghetti Western.

Suspiria, dir. by Dario Argento. (1977) This classic Italian horror movie of the 1970s tells the story of one woman’s descent into horror as she realizes that her ballet academy is actually run by witches.

Novecento (1900), dir. by Bernardo Bertolucci (1976). Tells the story of the rise and fall of a rich Italian family during the time of Fascism in Italy.

Gomorra, dir. by Matteo Garrone  (2008) Five tales of Italian organized crime set in Naples, Italy.

More Italian films can be found in the online catalog by choosing “subject” in the drop-down box closest to the search box, then type the keywords “foreign films Italian DVDs” in the search box.

If you have any favorite Italian films you’d like to share with the blog readers, please post it in the comments.

- Michael K.


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