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Italian Cinema: The Silent Era

by Kolar
Italian Cinema: The Silent Era by Kolar
Italian Cinema: The Silent Era Silent lists on mubi THE SILENT ERA, 1888-1929 (by Kenji) THE SILENT ERA (by apursan​sar) SILENT BOB (by Robert Regan) Swedish Cinema: The Silent Era (by Kolar) Russian Empire & Soviet Cinema: The Silent Era (by Kolar) The Silent Classics (by Nadia) Express Yourself (with Intertitle Cards): Silent Films/Ranked (by H. Jackson) Early Japanese Cinema (1897-1937) (by apursan​sar) Weimar Cinema: Daydreams and Nightmares (by apursan​sar) (many silent films) Personal Canon: The 1890s (by Erik Gregers​en) Personal Canon: The 1900s (by Erik Gregers​en) Personal Canon: The 1910s (by Erik Gregers​en) Personal Canon: The… Read more
Italian Cinema: The Silent Era

Silent lists on mubi
THE SILENT ERA, 1888-1929 (by Kenji)
THE SILENT ERA (by apursan​sar)
SILENT BOB (by Robert Regan)
Swedish Cinema: The Silent Era (by Kolar)
Russian Empire & Soviet Cinema: The Silent Era (by Kolar)
The Silent Classics (by Nadia)
Express Yourself (with Intertitle Cards): Silent Films/Ranked (by H. Jackson)
Early Japanese Cinema (1897-1937) (by apursan​sar)
Weimar Cinema: Daydreams and Nightmares (by apursan​sar) (many silent films)
Personal Canon: The 1890s (by Erik Gregers​en)
Personal Canon: The 1900s (by Erik Gregers​en)
Personal Canon: The 1910s (by Erik Gregers​en)
Personal Canon: The 1920s (by Erik Gregers​en)
ASTA NIELSENTHE SILENT MUSE (by Grey Daisies)
and many more… not listed

Lists: Italian cinema

ESSENTIAL ITALIAN FILMS (by Kenji)
ITALIAN CINEMA: IN THE LIGHT OF NEO-REALISM (by apursansar)
cinema d’autore italiano (by kyeo)
25 Italian Horror And Giallo – Movie List on mubi.com (by Fantast​ic Voyages)
Poliziotteschi (1967-1985) (by Experim​entoFil​m)
Giallology (1962-2009) (by Experim​entoFil​m)
ITALIAN NEOREALISM (by Anton William​s)
ITALIAN AUTEURS (by Anton William​s)
THE SPAGHETTI WESTERN (by Anton William​s)

Italian Cinema: The Silent Era

History

Italy’s contribution to silent cinema was a considerable and a distinctive one, but it was slow off the mark. Although it had some pioneer experimenters in the 1890s, such as Fileteo Alberini, for the most part film in the first years meant exhibition of films from other nations or actuality filmmakers such as Vittorio Calcina (who was a Lumière representative) and Italo Pacchioni, perhaps the first independent native filmmaker. At this period, when films were widely exhibited in Italy but local production was minimal, the leading figure was probably Leopoldo Fregoli, an immensely popular comedian and mimic who introduced film (the Fregoligraph) into his act in 1898.


La Presa di Roma (1905), Filoteo Alberini

Italian film production properly began in 1905 with the production by Alberini and fellow exhibitor Dante Santoni of La Presa di Roma (The Capture of Rome), Italy’s first dramatic film, prophetic in its choice of classical-historical subject matter. A year later their company took on the name of Cines. The growth in cinemas, and a great upsurge in audiences, encouraged an explosion in native film production. Among the leading companies were Cines, Ambrosio, Pasquali, Itala, Comerio (later Milano) and the Pathé offshot Film d’Arte Italiana. The leading production centres were Rome and Turin, and Italian films were exported worldwide as well as locally, establishing a strong reputation for costume dramas and comedies. Italy became one of the world’s leading film production centres.

Italian filmmakers (and audiences) delighted in classical and literary subjects, tackling Shakespeare, Dante and Edward Bulwer-Lytton (the much-filmed The Last Days of Pompeii), films which delighted in emphasising opulence, elevated drama and a classical heritage that was especially theirs. This taste for the cultured came in part from the aristocratic leanings, indeed blood, of some Italian producers and investors, men like actor and director Gustavo Serena, Alberto Fassini (who owned Cines), Giuseppe Di Liguoro, who ran Milano Films and was the company’s main director, and Baldassare Negroni, another aristocrat-filmmaker, this time for Celio.


La caduta di Troia (1910), Luigi Romano Borgnetto & Giovanni Pastrone

To demonstrate that their cinema was not all high-minded, Italian comedians developed a rudely cinematic, knockabout style that blended chase, social satire and film trickery, with such notable comics as Cretinetti (the Frenchman André Deed), Kri Kri (Raymond Frau), Lea (Lea Giunchi) and Tontolini (Ferdinando Guillaume) and Robinet (Marcel Fabre). Delightfully Italian in their particular vaudeville style, such films also point the way to the American slapstick that was eventually to supplant them on the world market.


Quo Vadis? (1912), Enrico Guazzoni

As films grew longer, Italian ambitions grew. The taste for classical subjects led inexorably to grander treatments – the literal cast of thousands – as films started to dazzle audiences with scale and spectacle. Out of the major Italian studios came a succession of epic, feature-length productions that caused amazement worldwide: L’Inferno (1911), which shocked many with its scenes of writhing nudity, La caduta di Troia (The Fall of Troy) (1911), Quo vadis? (1913), Cajus Julius Caesar (1914) and grandest and maddest of them all, Giovanni Pastrone’s Cabiria (1914). Cabiria, a tale of the Punic Wars, was 4,000 metres long (over three hours) and came burdened with grossly verbose titles courtesy of Italy’s great poet/dramatist Gabriele D’Annunzio. Cabiria‘s commanding sense of space (accentuated by distinctive slow camera tracking shots), visual design, and the movement of crowds impressed all who saw it, even while the human drama was dwarfed. It particularly influenced the epic film in America, most noticeably D.W. Griffith’s Intolerance. Cabiria also introduced the character Maciste, the Hercules-like strongman, played by Bartolomeo Pagano, who would feature as the leading character in a great many films throughout the 1910s and 20s, and then revived as a character in the 1960s.


Gli ultimi giorni di Pompeii (1913), Mario Caserini & Eleuterio Rodolfi

Cinema fascinated Italian intellectuals. Futurism, the modernist art movement that largely centred on Italy, theorised rhapsodically about film and its relation to the urban and the mechanical. Futurists Arnaldo Ginna and Bruno Corra made experimental films in 1910-1912 which combined motion picture colour with music, and Ginna made the film Vita futurista (1916). Conversely, Luigi Pirandello’s wrote a novel Si gira (1915), revised in 1925 as Quaderni di Serafino Gubbio operatore (English title Shoot!), in which cinema is representative of all that is mechanised and soulless.


Cabiria (1914), Giovanni Pastrone

The epic productions made Italy the talking point in world cinema for a brief period, but another national form of film – and one more localised in its appeal – was the diva film. These were slow moving but artfully designed melodramas, with scenarios where strong leading ladies suffered glamorously, usually dying for love in the final reel. Italian diva actresses included Pina Menichelli (Tigre Reale, 1916), Francesca Bertini (Assunta Spina, 1915, which she co-directed), Lyda Borelli (Malombra, 1917), Maria Jacobini (Resurrezione, 1917) and Italia Almirante Manzini (L’inamorata, 1920), while their celebrated stage equivalent was Eleonora Duse (who made just the one film, Cenere, in 1916).

Post-war, Italian cinema withered away. The dominance achieved by America worldwide, and the competition in Europe from German cinema, had a deleterious effect on the Italian film industry, which could no longer afford to produce the lavish films of which its reputation had been based. Production dwindled almost to nothing by the mid-1920s, and quality declined in tandem (with some brave exceptions, such as Maciste all’Inferno, 1926). Fascism, dominant in Italian life from 1922, showed little interest in film until sound arrived in 1930, and with it a revival in Italian cinema – but that is another story. (bioscopic.wordpress.com)

Prolific Filmmakers / Directors (Silent Era)

(selection)


Arturo Ambrosio (1869–1960)



Augusto Genina (1892–1957)



Giuseppe de Liguoro (1869–1944)



Luigi Maggi (1867-1946)



Baldassarre Negroni (1877–1948)



Elvira Notari (1875–1946)



Roberto Omegna (1876–1948)



Ernesto Maria Pasquali (1883–1919)



Giovanni Pastrone (1883–1959)


Other Notable filmmakers:

- Mario Caserini (1874–1920)
- Enrico Guazzoni (1876–1949)
- Gerolamo Lo Savio (1865–1931)
- Eleuterio Rodolfi (1876–1933)


Notable Actors & Actresses


Francesca Bertini (1892–1985)



Lyda Borelli (1884–1959)



Leopoldo Fregoli (1867–1936)



Emilio Ghione (1879–1930)



Lea Giunchi (1884-?)



Polidor (aka Ferdinando Guillaume) (1887–1977)



Leda Gys (1892–1957)



Maria Jacobini (1892–1944)



Italia Almirante-Manzini (1890–1941)



Pina Menichelli (1890–1984)



Amleto Novelli (1885–1924)



Bartolomeo Pagano (1878–1947)



Ruggero Ruggeri (1871–1953)


links, books

BEGINNINGS: THE SILENT PERIOD
Italian Film Before Neo-Realism: The Silent Era and Fascist Cinema
Beginnings to Superspectacles, BFI
Books: Diva: Defiance and passion in early Italian cinema, by Angela Dalle Vacche
Books: The history of Italian cinema, Gian Piero Brunetta


Italian silent films on Mubi (by year)

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