Must-See Italian Movies
Must-See Italian Movies: My Personal Favorites
There’s nothing like a good movie for those times when you want to flee reality for a couple of hours, unwind after a long day at work, or maybe just beat the boredom of a rainy afternoon. Movies make us dream, laugh and cry. They move us, they inspire us, and they stir the pot of our deepest emotions. The only problem, many of the times, is choosing the movie. So if you’re stuck and don’t know what to pop in your DVD, my advice is to try Italian movies! Personally, I find them absolutely amazing: every time I watch one, I end up falling in love with a character, a place, a mood… and feeling the urge to head back to this gorgeous country. Thankfully, I have some friends there who are real film buffs, and I get plenty of “insider information” on must-see Italian movies. So without further ado – and hopefully without any spoilers – here is my personal top ten of the best Italian movies, just waiting for you to discover them!
Must-See Italian Movies: from “Life is Beautiful” to “The Great Beauty”
Impossible not to start from “La Dolce Vita”, Federico Fellini’s masterpiece and the inspiration behind this very blog’s title! Some of you have probably already seen the iconic black & white kiss between Swedish beauty Anita Ekberg and 1960s sex symbol Marcello Mastroianni, inside Rome’s Trevi Fountain. What you may not know is the amusing behind-the-scenes story: it seems that the Nordic bombshell had no problems spending hours at a time waist-deep in the fountain’s ice-cold water, but the Italian leading man simply couldn’t take it. In the end, he had to wear a full scuba-diving suit under his tuxedo, and drink a whole bottle of vodka before he could begin shooting!
Given the wealth of masterpieces the country has produced, it’s no surprise that Italian movies have won more Academy Awards for “best foreign film” than any other country. One of these is “Life is Beautiful” (winner of three Oscars), a modern classic that explores the horrors of the holocaust through the eyes of a child. In this devastatingly beautiful film, director Roberto Benigni manages to weave together tragedy and comedy in truly unique ways. In fact, I can’t remember a single other movie in which I laughed so much and also cried so much…
15 years after “Life is Beautiful”, Italy took home another best picture Oscar with “The Great Beauty”, a fascinating portrait of Rome (part homage and part satire) that leads us on a journey through what you don’t see in the average postcard… If you’re ever in the “Eternal City” and want to get a real taste of the film’s magical atmosphere, I recommend stopping by “La Veranda”, a restaurant set in a spectacular historic colonnade, which was actually used as a location for the film. Do pop in, even for a quick Sunday brunch: it will be an unforgettable experience!
Another must-see Italian movie which I strongly recommend watching is “Novecento”, though I’m still not sure if what I loved most was the story or the soundtrack (it’s the film which introduced me to the musical genius of the great Ennio Morricone). This epic historical drama, over 5 hours long, is actually 3 films in 1, as it follows a single family through three generations of class struggles in the central Italian region of Emilia. “Il Postino”, especially recommended for anyone who loves poetry, is one of the most visually-striking films I’ve seen. A timeless fairy tale about life, love and Pablo Neruda, the film takes place on a tiny island where virtually everyone but the great writer is illiterate… And though the movie is fictional, it does have a basis in reality, as the Chilean poet did in fact spend some time living on the Italian islands of Capri and Ischia.
Also island-based, but much different in tone and content, is Gabriele Salvatores’ Oscar-winning film “Mediterraneo”. This endearing mix of comedy and drama follows the adventures – and the inner journeys – of a small group of Italian soldiers who become stranded on a tiny Greek island in the midst of World War Two. Topping off my list of cinematic Italian masterpieces is “Bread and Tulips”, a quirky little gem which will draw plenty of smiles, laughs and maybe even a few tears. The premise is oddly hilarious: Rosalba, a southern Italian housewife, is returning from a family vacation by bus when she is inexplicably forgotten at a gas station by her husband and children. What happens next is… why you need to go find the movie, pop a bottle of Chianti, sit back and enjoy the magic…