Cinema of Italy: The film crisis of 1980s

At the end of 1970s, the first symptoms of a crisis are beginning to be felt in the cinema industry in Italy, a crisis that will fully explode in the 1980s and that will persist for a decade.

A new physiological process is taking place and it is bound to the popularity of commercial television, with similar effect in other countries with great cinema traditions such as Japan and France. During these years the Italian comedy disappears as a genre and the cinema d’autore becomes more isolated with a flow of movies that hardly fit the social times.

There are however, memorable movies, at least in the first half of the decade. Among the main movies are “La città delle donne” (1980), “E la nave va” (1983) and “Ginger e Fred” (1985) by Fellini, “L’albero degli zoccoli” (1978) by Ermanno Olmi (winner of Palm D’Or in Cannes), “Una giornata particolare” (1978) with Sophia Loren and Marcello Mastroianni.

Furthermore, “La terrazza” (1980) by Ettore Scola, “Bianca” (1984) and “La messa è finita” (1985) by Nanni Moretti, “Minestrone” (1981) by Sergio Citti “La notte di San Lorenzo” (1982) by the Taviani brothers, “Tre fratelli” (1983) by Francesco Rosi.

Although not totally made in Italy, we cannot forget “Once upon a time in America” by Sergio Leone (1984) and “The last Emperor” (1987), the movie by Bernardo Bertolucci that won 9 Oscars.

On the comedy front we remember early works by Massimo Troisi who obtain praise for “Ricomincio da tre” (1981), “Scusate il ritardo” (1983) and above all “Non ci resta che piangere” (1984) with Roberto Benigni, Carlo Verdone who gives his best in “Compagni di scuola” (1988), the immortal Mario Monicelli who returns to glory with “Speriamo che sia femmina” (1988), Roberto Benigni who achieves international fame with “Il piccolo diavolo” (1988), interpreted by Walter Matthau.

Along the few to be named from this decade we must remember Franco Piavoli, a self-made author who, with the first surprising and poetic work “Il pianeta azzurro” (1982) revels himself a very unique element in the Italian cinema. Piavoli, more interested in the images and the sounds of nature than in dialog, continues his work with “Nostos-Il ritorno” (1989), a fascinating re-reading of the Greek classic “Odyssey”.

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