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IT3860 Shooting History: Dictatorship, Terror and Crime in Italian Film

2018-9 Term 2

Convenor: Dr Fabrizio De Donno


Class presentation: 20%; Long Essay: 80%, 3,000-3,500 words


The course explores representations of fascism, terrorism and organised crime in contemporary Italian historical film. Students will explore how the notions of history and violence are used creatively in Italian cinema in order to address aesthetic and cultural concerns with memory and trauma. The course will concentrate on the relationship between violence and the authority of the state, as well as on the varying dynamics of such relationship in the different contexts of fascism, terrorism and organized crime. Particular attention is also paid to the analysis of the medium of cinema as a political, social and ethical commentary. Students will thus be presented with the long tradition of political and historical cinema in Italy, and will be introduced to a wide range of tools for film analysis.


The Conformist (1970), dir. Bernardo Bertolucci

Kapò (1960), dir. Gillo Pontecorvo

Good Morning, Night (2003), dir. Marco Bellocchio

Il Divo (2008), dir. Paolo Sorrentino

Romanzo Criminale (2005), dir. Michele Placido

The Hundred Steps (2000), dir. Marco Tullio Giordana

Gomorrah (2008), dir. Matteo Garrone

Secondary Literature: General, Theoretical and Introductory

Glynn, Ruth, Women, Terrorism and Trauma in Italian Culture (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2013)

Landy, Marcia, The Historical Film: History and Memory in Media (London: Athlone, 2001)

Lichtener, Giacomo, Fascism in Italian Cinema since 1945: The Politics and Aesthetics of Memory (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2013) 

O’leary, Alan, Glynn, R. and Lombardi, G., eds., Terrorism, Italian Style: Representations of Political Violence in Contemporary Italian Cinema (London: IGRS, 2012)

Renga, Dana, Mafia Movies: A Reader (Toronto: Toronto University Press, 2011)

Rosenstone, Robert, Visions of the Past: The Challenge of Film to Our Idea of History (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1995)

Rosenstone, Robert, History on Film, Film on History (Harlow: Longman, 2006)



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