Italian Cinema Essay, Research Paper
Filoteo Alberini patented his Kinetografo for taking motion pictures late in 1895, and the first Italian film to charge admission was released the following year: Vittorio Calcini's Umberto E Margherita Di Savoia A Passeggio Per Il Parco, in which King Umberto and Margherita of Savoy could be seen on a stroll in the park. Before the end of the 19th century, the Lumi?re Brothers' Italian representatives, Calcini and his trainer Eug?ne Promio, were making short documentaries in the style of the French pioneers; so were such imitators as Italo Pacchioni (La Gabbia Dei Matti, 1896). In the 1900s Italian film production grew rapidly. Alberini produced his landmark one-reeler La Presa Di Roma in 1905; this historical drama of the annexation of Rome into the new Italian republic set the trend for the period films, whch would typify Italian silent cinema. Producer/director Giovanni Pastrone (aka Piero Fosco) further shaped the genre with such films as Giordano Bruno (1908) and La Caduta Di Troia (1910). Longer works such as Enrico Guazzoni's 8-reel Quo Vadis? (1912) led to Pastrone's classic 1914 epic Cabiria. This opulent 15-reel drama, set in the Second Punic War, was an international hit and persuaded filmmakers that audiences could sit still for lengthy dramas. Italian short comedies were also popular in these years, with stars such as Cretinetti (L'Ultima Monelleria Di Cretinetti, 1911), Polidor (Polidor E I Gatti, 1913), and Kri Kri (Kri Kri, Martire Della Suocera, 1915). But after World War One, Italian cinema was undercut by foreign films. Production shrivelled over the 1920s; Hollywood's use of Italian facilities for films like Ben-Hur (1926) also drained the industry's resources, as did such Italian superproductions as Guazzoni's Messalina (1923). From over 200 Italian films made in 1920, less than 12 were produced between 1927 and '28. Italian film production slowly revived over the 1930s. The first talkie was La Canzone Dell'Amore (1930), directed by Gennaro Righelli. The decade's escapist comedies and musicals usually depicted a life of wealth and leisure beyond most Italians, who snidely called these "white telephone" movies, after their use of a decorating touch favored by the rich; examples include Paradiso (1932), directed by Guido Brignone, and Righelli's Al Buio Insieme (1933). Mussolini's Fascist government also began to be reflected in Italy's films, such as Righelli's L'Armata Azzurra (1932) and director Alessandro Blasetti's Vecchia Guardia (1935). Epic historical dramas were also revived, most notably Blasetti's 1860 (1934) and director Carmine Gallone's Scipione L'Africano (1937). By the start of World War Two, Italian film was under Fascist control, and most films were light entertainment to distract citizens from their sufferings as the tide turned in favor of the Allies. But even before the fall of Fascism, films such as Piccolo Mondo Antico (1941), by novelist-turned-filmmaker Mario Soldati, or Blasetti's Quattro Passi Fra Le Nuvole (1942), co-scripted by Cesare Zavattini, offered a renewed involvement with the realities of everyday life. Vittorio De Sica, a romantic lead in '30s comedies, began to direct and co-script his films in the '40s, such as the delightful Teresa Venerdi (1941) with Anna Magnani; he stayed behind the camera for I Bambini Ci Guardano (1943, The Children Are Watching Us), a realistic drama of a marital breakup as seen from the young son's perspective, which he co-wrote with Zavattini. The year 1943 also marked the release of a grim account of adultery and murder, set against the poverty-stricken Po River valley and delta: Ossessione, the first film directed and co-scripted by Luchino Visconti. This unauthorized version of James M. Cain's novel The Postman Always Rings Twice met with legal difficulties that inhibited its international release; but in Italy it was enormously influential and ushered in the cinematic era of "neorealism." Two filmmakers brought world renown to neorealism. The first was Roberto Rossellini, whose first features La Nave Bianca (1941), Un Pilota Ritorna, (1942), and L'Uomo Della Croce (1943) had supported the Fascist agenda. After the fall of Mussolini, he showed his true feelings when he directed and co-scripted Roma, Citt? Aperta (1945, Open City), filming secretly in Roman streets and apartments while the Germans were still pulling out. Although he'd cast actors such as Magnani and Aldo Fabrizi, Rossellini achieved a stunning verisimilitude in this drama of the Italian Resistance, and the film was an international success. So too were Pais? (1946, Paisan), his multi-episode account of the American liberation of Italy, and Germania Anno Zero (1947, Germany, Year Zero), shot in the ruins of Berlin, in which a German boy poisons his father who is too sick to support the family. Rossellini used real locations and non-professional locals as actors, and gazd directly at the core of human experience; seen together as a trilogy, these classics offer an indelible account of the war's impact on humanity. The other neorealist filmmaker to achieve international acclaim was De Sica. Like Rossellini, he had a genius for drawing real emotions from non-actors; co-scripting with Zavattini, he made two classics of the hardships of postwar life. Sciuscia (1946, Shoeshine) was about street boys trying to survive by shining shoes, who are driven into betrayal and despair by a cruel legal system. Ladri Di Biciclette (1948, The Bicycle Thief) depicted the desperate attempts of a poster-hanger to recover his stolen bicycle so he can keep his job and support his family. Although praised by critics, neorealist films weren't popular with Italians, who were disinclined to see movies depicting the misery all around them. Yet other directors also employed neorealist methods in the late 1940s and early '50s: Luigi Zampa (Vivere In Pace, 1946; Anni Difficili, 1948), Alberto Lattuada (Senza Piet?, 1948, Without Pity; Il Mulino Del Po, 1949; Il Cappotto, 1952, The Overcoat), Renato Castellani (Sotto Il Sole Di Roma, 1948; ? Primavera, 1949; Due Soldi Di Speranza, 1952), Pietro Germi (In Nome Della Legge, 1949; Il Ferrovierre, 1956, The Railroad Man), and Giuseppe De Santis (Riso Amaro, 1949, Bitter Rice; Roma Ore 11, 1952). The other classic of the '40s, however, came from Visconti: La Terra Trema (1948), about a poor Sicilian fishing family torn apart by their exploitative employers. Working strictly with non-professionals (whose Sicilian dialect required that the film be shown with subtitles, even to Italian audiences), Visconti made one of the finest and most absolute of neorealist films. The masters of neorealism began expanding their styles, and lements of satiric fantasy were featured in Rossellini's La Macchina Ammazzacattivi (1948) and in De Sica and Zavattini's classic allegory Miracolo A Milano (1950, Miracle In Milan). Anna Magnani triumphed in two vehicles: Rossellini's diptych L'Amore (1948, Love) starred her in both a filming of the Jean Cocteau play The Human Voice and in Il Miracolo (The Miracle), an original story by Federico Fellini; Visconti's Bellissima (1951), a satire of the Italian film industry, had Magnani as a stage mother promoting the dubious talents of her young daughter. Rossellini's scandalous love affair with married actress Ingrid Bergman resulted in her starring in several of his most memorable dramas: Stromboli, Terra Di Dio (1949, Stromboli), Europa '51 (1952, The Greatest Love), Viaggio In Italia (1954, Voyage To Italy), and La Paura (1955, Fear). De Sica and Zavattini made another neorealist masterpiece with Umberto D (1952), about the plight of the elderly in Italian society. They followed with a weak drama, Stazione Termini (1953), which featured the Hollywood stars Jennifer Jones and Montgomery Clift; released in the States as the dubbed and shortened Indiscretion Of An American Wife, the film would not be seen here in its full-length Italian version until 1983. Their superb multi-episode comedy L'Oro Di Napoli (1954, The Gold Of Naples) made a star of Sophia Loren, but Il Tetto (1956, The Roof), in which a young couple struggles to put a roof on their newly-built house before they can be kicked out of it, was less affecting and became their last neorealist film. Visconti moved outside neorealism for two of his best works: Senso (1954), a lush drama of love and betrayal set against the Risorgimento (Italy's struggle against Austrian rule in the mid-19th century), and Le Notti Bianche (1957, White Nights), a stylish adaptation of the Dostoevsky story, with Marcello Mastroianni. Rossellini also made a superb period film, his account of St. Francis of Assisi, Francesco, Giullare Di Dio (1950, The Flowers Of St. Francis), as well as the memorable satire Dov'? La Libert?? (1952), starring the beloved Italian clown Tot? as a man who finds more liberty for himself in prison than in society. In the 1950s a new generation of Italian filmmakers took the truths of neorealism into new realms of social analysis, psychological drama, and storytelling techniques. Federico Fellini, who'd co-scripted numerous films for Rossellini and Lattuada, debuted as a director with Luci Del Variet? (1950, Variety Lights), a comedy/drama of infidelity among show folk, which he co-directed with Lattuada. His first solo effort was the memorable comedy Lo Sceicco Bianco (1952, The White Shiek), about a young bride obsessed with the dashing White Shiek, who turns out to be just a silly windbag played by comic Alberto Sordi. Fellini's semi-autobiographical I Vitelloni (1953) was a classic look at smalltown young men who are reluctant to grow up; he followed with a second masterpiece, La Strada (1954), with his wife Giulietta Masina as a simpleminded waif kept by a brutish circus strongman, played by Anthony Quinn. La Strada made international stars of Fellini and Masina, and even though their con-men drama Il Bidone (1955) was less successful, they scored again with Le Notti Di Cabiria (1957, The Nights Of Cabiria), one of their finest collaborations, with Masina as a naive prostitute. The other master filmmaker who came into his own in the 1950s was Michelangelo Antonioni, although his slow, icy dramas of frustrated love and personal alienation failed to win the instant praise given Fellini. His first feature, Cronaca Di Un Amore (1950), began exploring the themes that would make him famous in the 1960s, and Antonioni followed with the multi-episode drama I Vinti (1952), the film-industry satire La Signora Senza Camelie (1953, The Lady Without Camellias), and the Cesare Pavese adaptation Le Amiche (1955). His mature style began with Il Grido (1957, The Outcry), a leisurely-paced drama of a man's mental collapse. Antonioni finally achieved international success with his classic L'Avventura (1959), a longer and even more leisurely-paced anti-drama starring Monica Vitti, in which the search for a missing woman trails off into disillusionment and emptiness. More popular with Italians were the comedies of the 1950s, notably two films directed and co-scripted by Luigi Comencini and starring De Sica and Gina Lollobrigida: Pane, Amore E Fantasia (1953, Bread, Love And Dreams) and Pane, Amore E Gelosia (1954, Frisky). Also beloved were the Tot? comedies written and directed by Mario Monicelli and Steno (aka Stefano Vanzina), such as Guardie E Ladri (1951, Cops And Robbers). As a solo director, Monicelli later scored an international hit with the caper satire I Soliti Ignoti (1958, Big Deal On Madonna Street) with Tot? and Mastroianni.In the 1960s, both Fellini and Antonioni made a series of classics which secured their positions in the first rank of world cinema. The fragmentary storytelling style Fellini had explored in I Vitelloni and Le Notti Di Cabiria was used to define La Dolce Vita (1960), a stunning fresco of the decay of Italian society; Marcello Mastroianni starred as a gossip columnist who is as empty as the world around him. 8-1/2 (1963), arguably Fellini's best film, had Mastroianni as a film director incapable of finishing his science-fiction epic; moving invisibly between reality and fantasy, 8-1/2 was funny, heartbreaking, and uplifting. Masina starred in Fellini's first color feature, Giulietta Degli Spiriti (1965, Juliet Of The Spirits), as a betrayed wife whose mental breakdown liberates her from an unreal domestic life. The phantasmagoric Fellini-Satyricon (1969), a surreal adaptation of Petronius' account of ancient Rome, was Fellini's most personal yet least self-referential film. Antonioni starred Monica Vitti in three more minimalist dramas of loss and purposelessness: La Notte (1960), with Mastroianni and Jeanne Moreau; L'Eclisse (1962), perhaps his finest film, in which the characters are eventually displaced by the director's scrutiny of objects in the street; and his first color film, the haunting Il Deserto Rosso (1964, Red Desert). Antonioni then made two English-language films. Blow-Up (1966), with David Hemmings as a London photographer who stumbles onto a murder only to lose the thread of his own investigation, won Antonioni his greatest acclaim. He then got his worst reviews for Zabriskie Point (1969), but today, his look at America's aimless counterculture seems more compelling and original. After making the lengthy, multi-episode documentary India (1958) for Italian television, Rossellini returned to drama with Il Generale Della Rovere (1959, General Della Rovere); De Sica starred as a con man used by the Nazis to impersonate a dead Italian general and inform on the Resistance, but who instead embraces his role and becomes a hero. Rossellini's Era Notte A Roma (1960) also dramatized the fight against the Nazis, but after the historical tales Viva L'Italia (1960) and Vanina Vanini (1961), and the negligible drama Anima Nera (1962), he developed a didactic style of filmmaking, using non-professional actors to recreate crucial moments in world history. Rossellini's last great works in this vein include La Prise De Pouvoir Par Louis XIV (1966, The Rise Of Louis XIV), Socrate (1970, Socrates), L'Et? Di Cosimo (1972, The Age Of The Medici), and Il Messia (1975, The Messiah). De Sica and Zavattini collaborated on several notable films in the 1960s and '70s. La Ciociara (1960, Two Women) starred Sophia Loren as a mother trying to protect her daughter in the last days of World War Two. Il Boom (1963) with Alberto Sordi was a scathing satire of greed in modern Italy. Loren and Mastroianni were teamed for the multi-episode comedy Ieri, Oggi, Domani (1963, Yesterday, Today And Tomorrow) — and for the farcical Matrimonio All'Italiana (1964, Marriage, Italian Style), which De Sica made without Zavattini. Their English-language comedies After The Fox (1966) with Peter Sellers and Woman Times Seven (1967) with Shirley MacLaine were flops, as were the sticky dramas Amanti (1968, A Place For Lovers) with Mastroianni and Faye Dunaway and I Girasoli (1970, Sunflower) with Loren and Mastroianni. De Sica worked with other writers on one of his last and best films, Il Giardino Dei Finzi Contini (1970, The Garden Of The Finzi-Continis), a moving account of the Fascist persecution of Italian Jews, from the novel by Giorgio Basani. He reunited with Zavattini for his final masterpiece, Una Breve Vacanza (1973, A Brief Vacation), starring Florinda Bolkan as a housewife whose only real happiness occurs during her short stay at a sanitorium where she's treated for tuberculosis. Luchino Visconti also made outstanding films in his last two decades. Rocco E I Suoi Fratelli (1960, Rocco And His Brothers) was a sprawling account of a poor Southern Italian family destroyed when they attempt to find fortune in Milan. The epic Il Gattopardo (1963, The Leopard), one of Visconti's classics, starred Burt Lancaster as a 19th-century Sicilian nobleman facing the end of his era. Vaghe Stelle Dell'Orsa (1964, Sandra) was a claustrophobic tale of an Italian Jewish family haunted by incest and wartime betrayal. Lo Straniero (1967, The Stranger) starred Mastroianni in an adaptation of the famed novel by Albert Camus. La Caduta Degli Dei (1969, The Damned) was an operatic drama of murder and depravity within a family of German industrialists who help the Nazis rise to power. Morte A Venezia (1971, Death In Venice), from Thomas Mann's novella, was perhaps Visconti's best film; Dirk Bogarde starred as a composer in plague-stricken Venice, who is entranced by perfect beauty in the form of a young Polish boy. Ludwig (1973) was a lavish biography of the German king who was martyred because he chose to pour money into Richard Wagner's operas rather than his country's wars. Gruppo Di Famiglia In Un Interno (1974, Conversation Piece), with Burt Lancaster, was a despairing look at violence in contemporary Italy. L'Innocente (1976, The Innocent), an erotic adaptation of Gabriele D'Annunzio's novel, starred Giancarlo Giannini as a late-19th-century egotist who is forced to recognize that he is not the Nietzschean superman he believes himself to be. Other established directors made important films in the 1960s and '70s. Pietro Germi had big hits with his hilarious farces Divorzio All'Italiana (1961, Divorce Italian Style), Sedotta E Abbandonata (1963, Seduced And Abandoned), and Signori E Signore (1966, The Birds, The Bees And The Italians). Germi died prior to shooting Amici Miei (1975), and Mario Monicelli directed his comedy of middle-aged pranksters. Monicelli's own notable films include the non-heroic war tale La Grande Guerra (1959, The Great War) with Alberto Sordi and Vittorio Gassman; the labor drama I Compagni (1963, The Organizer) with Mastroianni; the medieval satires L'Armata Brancaleone (1966) and Brancaleone Alle Crociate (1969), with Gassman; and the comedies La Mortadella (1971, Lady Liberty) with Loren and Un Borghese Piccolo Piccolo (1977) with Sordi. Several important new writer/directors made major films in the 1960s. Marco Ferreri scored with his sex farce Una Storia Moderna: L'Ape Regina (1963, The Conjugal Bed) and a bizarre satire of simian love, La Donna Scimia (1964, The Ape Woman), both starring Ugo Tognazzi; also striking was his wordless Dillinger E Morto (1968, Dillinger Is Dead). Working in a neorealist style, Ermanno Olmi made the touching tale of a young man lost in meaningless employment, Il Posto (1961, The Sound Of Trumpets) and the romantic drama I Fidanzati (1963, The Fiances). Marco Bellocchio combined radical politics and psychological drama for I Pugni In Tasca (1965, Fists In The Pockets) and La Cina E Vicina (1967. China Is Near). Among genre filmmakers, two major stylists of the '60s were Mario Bava with La Maschera Del Demonio (1961, Black Sunday;) and Sergio Leone with Per Un Pugno Di Dollari (1964, A Fistful Of Dollars). (For more on Bava, Leone, and their followers, see the articles "Horror Films" and "Spaghetti Westerns.") The most important new filmmaker of the 1960s was Pier Paolo Pasolini, who took neorealism into new vistas with his first films: Accattone (1961),a drama of a Roman thief, and Mamma Roma (1962), with Anna Magnani as a prostitute struggling for a new life. He won international fame with Il Vangelo Secondo Matteo (1964, The Gospel According To St. Matthew), retelling the life of Christ. Whether reinventing Greek tragedy in Edipo Re (1967 Oedipus Rex) and Medea (1969), or creating a new mythology with the allegories Teorema (1968) and Porcile (1969), Pasolini brought passion and controversy to all his films. His joyous, erotic, and witty "Trilogy Of Life" — Il Decameron (1971, The Decameron), I Racconti Di Canterbury (1972, The Canterbury Tales), and Il Fiore Delle Mille E Una Notte (1974, Arabian Nights) — was followed by a horrifying parable of soulless consumerism, the adults-only Sal? (1975), which updated the Marquis de Sade's The 120 Days Of Sodom to Mussolini's Social Republic of Sal?. Pasolini's brutal murder in 1975 silenced one of the greatest voices in world cinema.Fellini and Antonioni continued to make outstanding films in the 1970s and '80s. Especially noteworthy were Fellini's essay films, the I Clowns (1970, The Clowns), Roma (1972), and Intervista (1987); but whether he was reinventing the past — either his own in Amarcord (1973) or Casanova's in Il Casanova Di Federico Fellini (1976, Fellini's Casanova) — or offering allegories of modern society in Prova D'Orchestra (1979, Orchestra Rehearsal), La Citt? Delle Donne (1980, The City Of Women), E La Nave Va (1983, And The Ship Sails On), Ginger & Fred (1985), and La Voce Della Luna (1990), Fellini maintained his promise as one of the great visionaries of film. Antonioni, although increasingly slowed by illness, was still able to make such invaluable films as his documentary of China, Chung Kuo Cina (1972, Chung Kuo); the enigmatic Professione: Reporter (1975, The Passenger) with Jack Nicholson; the Cocteau adaptation Il Misterio Di Oberewald (1980, The Mystery Of Oberwald) with Monica Vitti; the drama of a filmmaker's search for his subject, Identificazione Di Una Donna (1982); and his collaboration with writer/director Wim Wenders, Par Dela Les Nuages (1995, Beyond The Clouds). Several writer/directors who began their careers in the 1960s scored international hits in the '70s. Bernardo Bertolucci, after rehashing Godard in Prima Della Rivoluzione (1964, Before The Revolution) and Sosia (1968, Partner), made two stylish dramas of guilt and failure, La Strategia Del Ragno (1970, The Spider's Stratagem) and Il Conformista (1971, The Conformist). His sexually-explicit Last Tango In Paris (1972) was a huge hit and gave Marlon Brando one of his best roles, but his epic 1900 (1976) was more tiresome than illuminating. Bertolucci has gone on to expensive English-language exotica, with mixed results: The Last Emperor (1987), The Sheltering Sky (1990), Little Buddha (1994). Giancarlo Giannini became a star in Lina Wertm?ller's dark comedies of politics and sex: Mimi Metallurgio Ferito Nell'Onore (1972, The Seduction Of Mimi), Film D'Amore E D'Anarchia (1973, Love And Anarchy), Travolti Da Un Insolito Destino Nell'Azzurro Mare D'Agosot (1974, Swept Away), and her best film, the concentration-camp allegory Pasqualino Settebellezze (1976, Seven Beauties). Her later work was ignored here, despite the wit and originality of Scherzo Del Destino In Agguato Dietro L'Angolo Come Un Brigante Di Strada (1983, A Joke Of Destiny) and Sotto, Sotto (1985). Brothers Paolo and Vittorio Taviani scored hits with their imaginative, fact-based tale of a poor Sardinian who educates himself, Padre Padrone (1977) and their World War Two drama La Notte Di San Lorenzo (1982, The Night Of The Shooting Stars). Ettore Scola's early comedies include Riusciranno I Nostri Eroi A Ritrovare L'Amico Misteriosamente Scomparso In Africa? (1968) with Alberto Sordi and Dramma Della Gelosia, Tutti I Particolari In Cronaca (1970, The Pizza Triangle) with Mastroianni, Giannini, and Monica Vitti. By the mid '70 he was making masterpieces. C'Eravamo Tanto Amati (1974, We All Loved Each Other So Much) with Vittorio Gassman and Nino Manfredi, observes a group of men selling out their ideals over the years, but uses stylistic shifts that mirror the growth of Italian cinema from neorealism on. The classic black comedy Brutti, Sporchi E Cattivi (1976, Down And Dirty) kills all sentimentality about the nobility of poverty with its brutal slum family headed by Manfredi. Una Giornata Particolare (1977, A Special Day), set in Fascist Italy, stars Sophia Loren as a downtrodden housewife who has a brief fling with lonely homosexual Mastroianni, about to be sent into exile. Scola's later work includes the provocative period drama of obsessive love Passione D'Amore (1981), a sly look at revolutionary France in La Nuit De Varennes (1982), and the wordless Le Bal (1983). Italy's filmmakers have continued to contribute major works. Ferreri has made some of his finest films, notably the Swiftian La Grande Abbuffata (1973, La Grande Bouffe), in which four men commit suicide by overeating, and his English-language adaptation of Charles Bukowski, Tales Of Ordinary Madness (1981) with Ben Gazzara. Olmi made probably his greatest film, a moving tapestry of late-19th-century peasant life in northern Italy, L'Albero Degli Zoccoli (1979, The Tree Of The Wooden Clogs). Bellocchio scored with his slap at bourgeois life in Salto Nel Vuoto (1979, Leap Into The Void), and reinvented I Pugni In Tasca with the startling Gli Occhi, La Bocca (1982, The Eyes, The Mouth); he also made a memorably erotic adaptation of Raymond Radiguet, Il Diavolo In Corpo (1986, Devil In The Flesh). Two directors who started out assisting Luchino Visconti went on to important careers: Franco Zeffirelli won acclaim adapting Shakespeare (The Taming Of The Shrew, 1967; Romeo And Juliet, 1968; Hamlet, 1990) and Verdi (La Traviata, 1983; Otello, 1986), and made a memorable life of Christ with Jesus Of Nazareth (1978); Francesco Rosi scored with his provocative political dramas, most notably Salvatore Giuliano (1961) Il Caso Mattei (1972, The Mattei Affair), and Tre Fratelli (1981, Three Brothers). Elio Petri also made sharp political points in Indagine Su Un Cittadino Al Di Sopra Di Ogni Sospetto (1970, Investigation Of A Citizen Above Suspicion) and La Classe Operaia Va In Paradiso (1971, The Working Class Goes To Heaven), both with Gian Maria Volont?. Liliana Cavani found controversy with her sexual explicitness in Il Portiere Di Notte (1974, The Night Porter), with Dirk Bogarde as a Nazi war criminal, and her Nietzsche biopic Oltre Il Bene E Il Male (1977, Beyond Good And Evil). Franco Brusati skillfully blended comedy and drama with Pane E Cioccolata (1973, Bread And Chocolate) and Dimenticare Venezia (1978, To Forget Venice). Salvatore Samperi brought an erotic edge to the intergenerational romance of Malizia (1973, Malicious) with Laura Antonelli, and the bisexual comedy/drama Ernesto (1978) with Michele Placido. Animator Bruno Bozzetto offered his response to Fantasia with Allegro Non Troppo (1976), which introduced comic Maurizio Nichetti as the orchestra conductor in live-action sequences; Nichetti went on to write and direct his own comedies, most notably the television satire Ladri Di Saponette (1989, The Icicle Thief). Roberto Benigni scored a hit directing his own slapstick performance in Johnny Stecchino (1991). Notable recent films include Gianni Amelio's Il Ladro Di Bambini (1992), which renews neorealist methods with its a moving tale of abused children; Il Postino (1994, aka The Postman), the last film of the popular comic actor Massimo Troisi; and Alessandro Benvenutti's romantic comedy of transgendered love, Belle Al Bar (1994). As Italy commences its second century of filmmaking, it will undoubtedly remain the leader of European cinema.