Special Topics in Film: Italian Cinema
140 - 004 | CCN: 31744
Cowboys and mobsters, divas and immigrants, Hollywood and Cinecittà.
Italy and the USA share a rich and complicated history that has frequently been the subject of both Italian and American cinema. Hollywood’s fascination with Italian mobsters and large, loud families preparing endless meals has given rise to a tradition of wonderful films depicting Italian culture in America, like Coppola’s The Godfather trilogy, Moonstruck, My Cousin Vinny, and Do the Right Thing. These all play on different stereotypes about Italians in America, as a people obsessed with food (in Big Night), and families built around violent but devoted men (like Rocky Balboa), and always holding a deep pride in Italian cultural heritage. The Italian movie studios of Cinecittà have played on another set of stereotypes, criticizing American consumerism in Fellini’s La dolce vita, and Sergio Leone’s so-called “spaghetti Westerns” that toy with American notions of masculinity while also poking fun at the storybook endings of so many Hollywood films. In this course, we will look at both traditions as we consider the evolution of these different cultural stereotypes on the big screen. We will also look at films like Amelio’s Lamerica, and Crialese’s Once We Were Strangers, and Nuovomondo that depict different moments in the long history of immigrants journeying from Italy to the USA.
As we watch and discuss these films we will engage with film theory as well as a body of work on racial and cultural stereotypes. Each film screening will be accompanied by a brief presentation of the socio-historical context in which it was produced, allowing students to situate the artistic projects within broader Italian, American and Italian-American histories.
This course meets the L&S breadth requirement for Historical Studies OR Arts & Literature.
Prerequisites: No prior knowledge of Italian cinema or theory is necessary.