Cinema of Italy: The great crisis (1919-1929)

With the end of WWI, the Italian cinema suffered an enormous crisis, mostly caused by the abnormal growth of small production companies that failed after a few films, and also from organizational errors.

Very popular now are the passion dramas, many of them inspired by classic literary works and theatre plays, directed by specialists like Roberto Roberti (father of Sergio Leone) and the religious colossals of Giulio Antamoro. Famous names from the stage, like Eleonora Duse (“Cenere”, 1916) and La Bella Otero make their first appearances on the big screen, raising some eyebrows.

The only sub-genre that survived the crisis was the Neapolitan, thanks to the work of the first Italian film-maker Elvira Notari, who produced and directed many “sceneggiate” and Neapolitan songs (performed directly in the movie theatres by famous singers and orchestras, synchronized with the images) and that obtained a huge success among the Italians who emigrated to South America (mostly to Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay).

The fascism, raised to power in 1922 until 1925, at the beginning did not care about helping the cinema industry on its way to total decline, until the mid 1920s, when two future protagonists of the “white telephones” era made their first work: Alessandro Blasetti, with “Sole” in 1928, and Mario Camerini, with the notable “Rotaie” in 1929.

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