The Myth of the Good Italian in the Italian Cinema
AbstractIn this paper we analyze the phenomenon called the “myth of the good Italian” in the Italian cinema, especially in the first three decades of after-war period. Thanks to the recent success of films such as Tarantino’s Inglorious Basterds or Academy Award- winning Benigni’s film La vita è bella and Spielberg’s Schindler’s List it is commonly believed that the Holocaust is a very frequent and popular theme. Nevertheless, this statement is only partly true, especially when it comes to Italian cinema. Soon after the atrocities of the WWII Italian cinema became one of the most prominent and influential thanks to its national film movement, neorealism, characterized by stories set amongst the poor and famished postwar Italy, celebrating the fight for freedom under the banners of Resistance and representing a nation opposed to the Fascist and Nazi regime. Interestingly, these films, in spite of their very important social engagement, didn’t even mention the Holocaust or its victims and it wasn’t until the 1960’s that Italian cinema focused on representing and telling this horrific stories. Nevertheless, these films represented Italians as innocent and incapable of committing cruel acts. The responsibility is usually transferred to the Germans as typically cold and sadistic, absolving Italians of their individual and national guilt.
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