Cinema Paradiso, written and directed by Giuseppe Tornatore, is a 1988 film set in Sicily a few years after the Second World War. It is essentially a film about love and friendship. The cinematography is fabulous. One of the main characters is called Alfredo, so I always think of my eldest son (Alfie/Alfredo). One of my favourite lines from Alfredo (I will give it to you in English) is: "Out of the fire of love come ashes. Even the greatest love fizzles out". I defy anyone to watch the ending and not cry. Beautiful.
Malena is a film from 2000, starring one of the most beautiful women in the world, Monica Bellucci. It is a romantic drama, again directed by Giuseppe Tornatore. Set in Sicily (can you tell I really want to visit there!) just as Italy enters the Second World War. The film is about the central character, Malena, along with a young boy who narrates her story. It centres on loneliness, faith, jealousy and grief. I don't want to give much away, but at the end when Malena is vindicated, it is heart-wrenching. The film won Academy Awards for its outstanding cinematography and score.
The Talented Mr Ripley is my favourite film (of all films, Italian, or otherwise). Sociopath Tom Ripley (Matt Damon) who is desperate to escape his life is employed by Dickie Greenleaf's (Jude Law) father to bring his errant son back to the US from Italy. Tom falls in love with Italy, Dickie and his lifestyle. He wants to be him. Dickie and his friends are pretty awful. Again, no plot spoilers so keeping schtum. I think it's one of those rare films where the casting has been spot on. The clothes the characters wear are exquisite, the music is beautiful and the director, Anthony Mingella, really captures the beauty of Italy. There is one piece of music from the film called 'Italia', it sums up Tom's emotions when he first arrives in Italy and I know how he feels.
The film that got me hooked on Italy from childhood is Roman Holiday. I adore this film. Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck are so beautiful to look at. Both wonderful and kind people in real life by all accounts. The story is old-fashioned, funny, charming and romantic and it is not the ending you expect (for those that haven't seen it before).
A Room with a View is probably Merchant Ivory's most famous film and with good reason. Again, one of my favourite films. The story of Lucy Honeychurch, the heroine, arriving with her Aunt in Florence and falling in love, but hiding her feelings because she is betrothed to another back in England. Again, this has an outstanding cast including Helena Bonham-Carter, Judi Dench and Maggie Smith. I love the music so much that Will and I got married to 'O mio babbino caro'.
The next three films are not favourite films of mine, but when they are on television I watch them because they are set in Abruzzo. The first of which being The American, starring George Clooney. I like George Clooney, but this film simply tries too hard and quite frankly the star of the film is Abruzzo. Worth watching if you are a fan of Italy. Apparently George loved Abruzzo, although according to the manager of the pizzeria in Sulmona, which is opposite where he stayed 'he is little, little arms, little neck, little legs....mehhhh'.
This brings me to the dubious films Ladyhawke (think very bad 80's keyboard music) and Krull. Both fantasy films from the 80's filmed in Abruzzo. The scenes in Ladyhawke filmed in L'Aquila are poignant for obvious reasons, the beautiful buildings were amongst those devastated in the earthquake.
|Rutger Hauer in Ladyhawke (Michelle Pfeiffer was the bird)|