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COURSE NAME: "Italian Cinema"
SEMESTER & YEAR: Fall 2023

INSTRUCTOR: Vito Zagarrio
EMAIL: [email protected]
HOURS: TTH 6:00 PM 8:00 PM
PREREQUISITES: This course carries 3 semester hours of credit.

This course surveys films, directors, and film movements and styles in Italy from 1945 to the present. The films are examined as complex aesthetic and signifying systems with wider social and cultural relationships to post-war Italy. The role of Italian cinema as participating in the reconstitution and maintenance of post-War Italian culture and as a tool of historiographic inquiry is also investigated. Realism, modernism and post-modernism are discussed in relation to Italian cinema in particular and Italian society in general. Films are shown in the original Italian version with English subtitles.

Realist, modernist and post-modernist aesthetics will be discussed in relation to Italian cinema, in particular, and Italian society, more in general. Directors to be treated include (but are not limited to) De Sica, Rossellini, Fellini, Pasolini, Monicelli, Bertolucci, Bellocchio, Nicchiarelli, and Sorrentino. Films are shown in the original Italian version with English subtitles.


Students will learn how to analyze film texts using specific historical, cultural, and theoretical approaches.

Students will learn how to write analytical essays that employ specific critical frameworks.

Students will learn and be able to discuss key social, political, and economic events, and movements in contemporary Italian history.

Book TitleAuthorPublisherISBN numberLibrary Call NumberCommentsFormatLocal BookstoreOnline Purchase
History of Italian CinemaBondanella, Peter, Pacchioni, FedericoLondon: Bloomsbury9781501307638     
Book TitleAuthorPublisherISBN numberLibrary Call NumberComments
Italian CinemaWood, MaryOxford: Berg978-1845201616  

Attendance, Participation and Discussion in class 30%
Midterm Exam  30%
Oral Presentation 10%
Final exam 30%

AWork of this quality directly addresses the question or problem raised and provides a coherent argument displaying an extensive knowledge of relevant information or content. This type of work demonstrates the ability to critically evaluate concepts and theory and has an element of novelty and originality. There is clear evidence of a significant amount of reading beyond that required for the course.
BThis is highly competent level of performance and directly addresses the question or problem raised.There is a demonstration of some ability to critically evaluatetheory and concepts and relate them to practice. Discussions reflect the student’s own arguments and are not simply a repetition of standard lecture andreference material. The work does not suffer from any major errors or omissions and provides evidence of reading beyond the required assignments.
CThis is an acceptable level of performance and provides answers that are clear but limited, reflecting the information offered in the lectures and reference readings.
DThis level of performances demonstrates that the student lacks a coherent grasp of the material.Important information is omitted and irrelevant points included.In effect, the student has barely done enough to persuade the instructor that s/he should not fail.
FThis work fails to show any knowledge or understanding of the issues raised in the question. Most of the material in the answer is irrelevant.

You cannot make-up a major exam (midterm or final) without the permission of the Dean’s Office. The Dean’s Office will grant such permission only when the absence was caused by a serious impediment, such as a documented illness, hospitalization or death in the immediate family (in which you must attend the funeral) or other situations of similar gravity. Absences due to other meaningful conflicts, such as job interviews, family celebrations, travel difficulties, student misunderstandings or personal convenience, will not be excused. Students who will be absent from a major exam must notify the Dean’s Office prior to that exam. Absences from class due to the observance of a religious holiday will normally be excused. Individual students who will have to miss class to observe a religious holiday should notify the instructor by the end of the Add/Drop period to make prior arrangements for making up any work that will be missed. The final exam period runs until ____________
As stated in the university catalog, any student who commits an act of academic dishonesty will receive a failing grade on the work in which the dishonesty occurred. In addition, acts of academic dishonesty, irrespective of the weight of the assignment, may result in the student receiving a failing grade in the course. Instances of academic dishonesty will be reported to the Dean of Academic Affairs. A student who is reported twice for academic dishonesty is subject to summary dismissal from the University. In such a case, the Academic Council will then make a recommendation to the President, who will make the final decision.
John Cabot University does not discriminate on the basis of disability or handicap. Students with approved accommodations must inform their professors at the beginning of the term. Please see the website for the complete policy.




Week 1

Film screening: My Voyage to Italy by Martin Scorsese, part 1



Introduction to the course.


Lecture: Italian silent film and Italian Film during the Fascism

Sequences from Cabiria by Giovanni Pastrone (1914).

The relationship between Italian cinema and the Fascist regime.

Sequences from: Gli uomini che mascalzoni and Il sig. Max by Camerini


Home work:

Watching the whole My Voyage to Italy (parts 1 and 2) by Martin Scorsese.

Readings: Wood, Italian Cinema, chapter “What is Italian Cinema?” pages 1-34

Week 2

Film screening: Paisan by Roberto Rossellini, 1946



Cinema and Resistance.

Screening of sequences from Open City by Roberto Rossellini, 1945.


Discussion in class about Neorealism.

Scenes from The Earth Trembles by Luchino Visconti


Readings: Bondanella, Pacchioni, chapter “Masters of Neorealism”


Week 3

Film Screening: La dolce vita by Federico Fellini, 1960


Lecture: The legacy of the Neorealism. The influences of Neorealism on Italian cinema.

Realism versus anti-Realism in the cultural debate.


Analysis of La dolce vita’s ending



From Wood, Italian Cinema, Realisms and Neorealisms in Italian Cinema, pages 82-99, Bondanella, Pacchioni, Fellini and Contemporary Itaian Cinema.



Week 5


Film screening: Blow Up by Michelangelo Antonioni, 1966


Film techniques workshop. The professor will give some elements of “film grammar” and “mise en scène” (the directorial work).


Discussion in class: Sorrentino and Antonioni



Reading: from Bondanella, A History of Italian Cinema, chapter 9, “The Mature Auteurs: New Dimensions in Film Narrative in Visconti, Antonioni, e Sica, and Fellini”.



Week 6


Film screening: Il sorpasso by Dino Risi, 1962.


Lecture: The Comedy Italian Style and the genre films.


Screening of some sequences of Big Deal on Madonna Street by Mario Monicelli and Divorce Italian Style by Pietro Germi.



Bondanella, Pacchioni, “Commedia all’italiana”


Week 7




Film screening: Fistfull of Dollars by Sergio Leone, 1963.


Lecture: The Spaghetti Western.


Sequences from The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, by Sergio Leone, 1966, and Once Upon a Time in the West, by Sergio Leone, 1968.



from Bondanella, part 3, chapters “A Fistful of Pasta: Sergio Leone and the Spaghetti Western”1.


Wood, Italian Cinema, Chapter 3, The Epic and Historical Film.


Week 8

Film screening:

Film screening: Corpo celeste by Alice Rohrwacher, 2011


Sequences from Terramatta by Costanza Quatriglio, 2012



Gender and women directors in contemporary film.

Discussion in class on gender and film.




From Wood, Italian Cinema, chapter 7, “Gender Representations and Gender Politics”, pages 155-177.




Week 9



Film screening: Suspiria by Dario Argento, 1977


Lecture: The Genre Film in Italy

Discussion: The “peplum” (Roman mythological film) and other film genres, both in Italy and in the US (horror, melodrama, musical, etc.).


Readings: Mary Wood, Italian Cinema, The Epic and Historical Film, pages 63-81

Week 10

Film Screening: Call Me by Your Name by Luca Guadagnino, 2018


Lecture: The GLBTQ+ topics



Week 11

Film screening: Cinema Paradiso by Giuseppe Tornatore

Lecture: Italian cinema from abroad. The international success of Italian film




The Italian Oscars: sequences, Life is Beautiful by Roberto Benigni, Mediterraneo by Gabriele Salvatores

Readings: Bondanella, A History of Italian Cinema, chapter 17, “Italian Cinema Enters in Third Millennium”

Week 12

Film screening: Gomorrah by Matteo Garrone, 2008


Readings: from Bondanella, History of Italian Cinema, chapter 16, “The Third Wave: A New Generation of Auteurs”.


Week 13

Film screening: Film screening: Terraferma by Emanuele Crialese, 2011.

Lecture: The representation of immigration in Italian cinema.



Week 14

Film screening: Smetto quando voglio by Sidney Sibilia, 2014.



The New Italian Comedy and the Italian Cinema of the 2000s