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Wednesday, 8 August 2007

Must see Sicilian movies

Giuseppe Tornatore's 1989 Academy-Award-winning film takes a romantic look at growing up in a remote village. The filmmaker returns to his Sicilian hometown for the first time in 30 years and looks back on his life, including the time he spent helping the projectionist at the local movie theatre.

On the day in 1940 that Italy enters the war, two things happen to the 12-year-old Renato: he gets his first bike, and he gets his first look at Malèna, a beautiful, silent outsider who's moved to this Sicilian town to be with her husband Nico who promptly goes off to war, leaving her to the lustful eyes of the men and the sharp tongues of the women. During the next few years, as Renato grows toward manhood, he watches Malèna suffer and subsequently prove her mettle: her loneliness, then grief when Nico is reported dead, the effects of slander on her relationship with her father, her poverty and search for work, and her final humiliation. Will Renato acquire the courage he so readily admires from Malèna and stand up to defend her?

In this Cannes award-winner based on a Sicilian legend, a beautiful young mother living on a small island elicits the disapproval of her fellow villagers with her carefree behaviour. When her relatives suggest she need psychiatric treatment, her son helps her escape from the condemnation of their town.

Beautiful romance set on the idyllic Sicilian island of Salina during the 1950s where exiled Chilean poet Pablo Nerudo has taken refuge. A shy mailman befriends the poet and uses his words - and, ultimately, the writer himself - to help him woo a woman with whom he has fallen in love.

"I cento passi" (one hundred steps) was the distance between the Impastatos' house and the house of Tano Badalamenti, an important Mafia boss, in the small Sicilian town of Cinisi. The movie is the story of Peppino Impastato, a young left-wing activist that in the late seventies (when almost nobody dared to speak about Mafia, and several politicians maintained that Mafia did not even exist) repeatedly denounced Badalamenti crimes and the whole Mafia system using a small local radio station, with the arm of irony. In 1978 Peppino (30 years old) was killed by an explosion. The police closed the case as an accident or a suicide, but his friends never accepted this thesis. Note: This is a true story. More than twenty years after Peppino's death, the case has been re-opened. Tano Badalamenti, meanwhile, has been convicted in USA for drug traffic.

Good hearted but not very wordly-wise, Roberto Benigni (Dante) is happy driving the school bus for a group of mentally handicapped children, while feeling he is somehow missing out on life and love. So he is very excited when after nearly being knocked down by her car he meets Maria, who seems immediately enamoured with him. He is soon invited to her sumptuous Palermo villa, little suspecting that he is a pawn in a sinister plot. Unbeknown to Dante, he bears an amazing likeness to Maria's mafia turncoat husband and it would be convenient for them if the mobster, in the shape of Dante, was seen to be dead and buried.

"Dottore" Joe Moretti travels round Sicily doing screen tests for the big Roman studios. He's a conman and takes money or favours for his efforts. Beata, a young illiterate convent girl desperately wants to change her life and falls for him, belatedly he realises his feelings for her. Their love affair is doomed when he's arrested.
Trailer in Italian only :

Luchino Visconti's 1968 film version of Giuseppe di Lampedusa's novel. Set in revolutionary Italy in the mid-1800s, the film stars Burt Lancaster as a Sicilian prince who seeks to preserve his family's aristocratic way of life by marrying off nephew Tancredi (Alain Delon) to the daughter (Claudia Cardinale) of a wealthy, boorish merchant. The lush drama culminates with an elaborate and memorable ballroom sequence that showcases the elegant and noble Sicily.

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