De Kracht van Cultuur

Italian movies started being produced at the beginning of the twentieth century. During the first ten years of the century, the first movie theatres were built in the larger cities and production companies were established. Many historical movies were produced. One of the firsts was La Presa di Roma, 20 settembre 1870 by Alberini and Santoni, in 1905. In addition, comedy developed as a genre and, soon after, melodrama became fashionable. Movies acquired a worldly character, with stars and divas, such as Lyda Borelli, Francesca Bertini, and Leda Gys.
During the First World War, production declined dramatically. After the war, the emergence of Hollywood initially precipitated the downfall of Italian movies. This situation turned around in the thirties, under the influence of Mussolini. The government restricted imports of American movies, more subsidies were available for movies, and Cinecittà, the largest Italian movie studio, was constructed.
During the Second World War, neo-realism emerged, with the movie Ossessione by Visconti (1943). The neo-realist movies were filmed on location, without artificial lighting, and thus provide a more realistic image than the studio movies that were familiar up to then. Their content was also realistic; entertainment seemed improper at that time and the movies portrayed the social dissatisfaction after the war. Other well-known neo-realists are Roberto Rossellini, Vittorio de Sica, and Guiseppe de Santis.
In the fifties, comedies were revived. Hollywood movies returned to the market as well.
In the sixties the Italian movies really began to flourish, and they become extremely popular both at home and abroad. Fellini made La Dolce Vita (1960) and Marcello Mastroianni, Sophia Loren, and Guilietta Masina became international stars. Pasolini, Bertolucci, the Taviani brothers and Scola all became famous as film makers.
Television caused a true crisis in movies during the seventies. During the eighties and nineties new talents emerged, but the competition from television remained strong. People reverted to old movies again and to Hollywood productions.
La vita è bella by Benigni won a number of Oscars in 1999 and the Jury Prize at the Cannes Festival.