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School of Modern Languages and Cultures: Italian Studies

Week Four: Middle Italy and Dante

Week Four: Middle Italy and Dante

Our fourth week starts with a film of Italy's greatest cycle race: the Giro D'Italia (1909), and then moves onto a recently-restored dramatisation of the life of Anita Garibaldi (1910). We then enjoy the first of our short comedies produced in Rome, Lea e il gomitolo (1913), which stars Lea Giunchi, one of the few comediennes of the silent era.

Our feature tonight is the recently restored, L'Inferno (1911), the first Italian feature film. The impact of L'Inferno was huge at a time when most films were modestly-produced and lasted no more than fifteen minutes. Made over three years with a huge budget, Giuseppe De Liguoro's adaptation of Dante's Inferno was heavily influenced by the illustrations of Gustave Doré. De Liguoro's use of early-cinema photography tricks gives the film an hallucinatory quality. L'Inferno was a huge success, partly due to support from Dante Alighieri societies across the world, who wanted to introduce a mass audience to Italy's greatest poet.

The success of L'Inferno led to the exploitation of Italy's literature and history in a series of ever-greater historical epics, culminating with Giovanni Pastrone's Cabiria.

This film programme will be shown from 7:30pm until 9:30pm on the 1st November 2011 at Durham Clayport Library, Millenium Place, Durham.