70: The Italian Cinema: Between Opera and Soundtrack: Italian Cinema 1945-2015, Session D (July 6 – August 14)

TWTh 5-7, Screening M 5-9 | 254 Dwinelle | Instructor: Marina Romani

Units: 3 Satisfies L&S Art & Literature OR Historical Studies breadth requirement.


Lecture Course Control Number: 56225
Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday 5:00-7:00 p.m., 254 Dwinelle Hall
Film Screening “LAB” Course Control Number: 56230
Monday 5:00- 9:00 p.m., 179 Dwinelle Hall

This course is designed to trace of more than half a century of Italian cinema, of its most influential actors, directors, and their best-known works. We will move from the ruins of post-World War II Italy, depicted in Rossellini’s Paisan, to the surreal and haunting atmospheres of Fellini’s films; we will dive into Leone’s epic and operatic narratives, and we will discover the tension between rural and urban contemporary Italy in Rohrwacher’s The Wonders.

In particular, we will explore the intersection of the musical and the visual that characterizes so much of Italian film: while music is often considered a secondary dimension in cinema, we will discover how a film soundtrack interacts with and affects the visual dimension. In particular, we will concentrate on a specific genre that has been central in the construction of the Italian cinematic identity: opera.

We will focus on cinematic techniques (such as shots, framing, point of view, camera movements), on the relation between image and sound, and on specific historical and cultural events represented in each movie. We will discover how filmmakers and musicians can imagine different visual and sonic worlds, and we will ask ourselves how ambiguous and persuasive narrative structures are created: What makes a plot “operatic”? What does it mean for a soundtrack to be “realistic”? How does the rhythm of the music intertwine with the rhythm of the film?

Readings: (reviews, articles, and book chapters) about Italian history, cinema, and music will be available in the course reader

Films will include:

Luchino Visconti, Senso (1954)
Federico Fellini, Nights of Cabiria (1957)
Sergio Leone, Once Upon a Time in America (1984)
Luca Guadagnino, I am Love (2009)
Alice Rohrwacher, The Wonders (2014)

Operas will include:
Giuseppe Verdi, Il trovatore (1853)
Giuseppe Verdi, La traviata (1853)
Giacomo Puccini, Tosca (1900)


Prerequisites: The course is open to all. No prior knowledge of music, cinema, or Italian language is required.