Italy and the First World War

La-Grande-Guerra

On Monday March 10th, 2014, at the EYE Filmmuseum in Amsterdam, I’ll give an introduction to the film La Grande Guerra (1959) by Mario Monicelli, and starring Vittorio Gassman, Alberto Sordi and Silvana Mangano. La Grande Guerra, on two buddies on the Italian Front during the First World War, starts as a comedy but then gradually becomes more grim. The film, scripted by a.o. the famous screenwriters duo Age & Scarpelli, received ex aequo the Golden Lion in Venice, together with Il Generale Della Rovere by Roberto Rossellini, and starring Vittorio De Sica. While La Grande Guerra is sometimes hailed as the first Italian feature on the First World War, some research proved this is not surely the case, even if Monicelli was the first Italian ‘auteur’ filmmaker to do so. This calls for a pedigree of the Italians filming the First World War, but also for a look at the Italian embarassment over the first adaptation of Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms (1932) by Frank Borzage, and starring Gary Coooper. The Battle of Caporetto (1917) plays an important role here. Finally it calls for some research on the anti-Austrian Italian film propaganda during the First World War, such as Maciste alpino (Pastrone 1916), and the combination of army and comedy in Italian cinema, even before the First World War, such as Kri Kri e Lea Militari (Cines 1913), below on a poster by Marchetti.

NL-EYE-EFG1914_A01537

~ by Ivo Blom on February 21, 2014.

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