Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Film Theory 3 - Italian Vernacular Cinema

Italian Vernacular Cinema is almost the opposite of the Auteur theory. Fellini was an Auteur that created stylish and sophisticated films with interior meaning. His films would comment on the superficiality of middle class existence.

Within Italian cinema the audience would be the ones who would drive the film and not necessarily the auteur. They would want to have the film that would relate to the audience and have them have a better understanding of the themes. Italian films were made on a low budget as the films themselves were in such high demand, the filmmakers had to produce more and more so with a low budget they were able to create more.

There was a class division in cinemas in Italy, Prima Visione and Seconda Visione - these were specifically for the middle class society, major cities would show these films where the audience would go and select the film they wanted to watch. They were aimed at a more sophisticated audience. Terza Visione - this was for the less populated areas of Italy and was at a cheaper ticket price. These films were more popular with people from the area. Terza Visione were called a 'television audience', they couldn't afford a t.v so they would go to the cinema. During the 1970's the Italian working class would tend to go to the cinema every night, they would meet people there and it would become a social space. Their conventions were different to what we do now a days, people would eat, drink and talk. They would even enter a film during the beginning, middle or end.

Filone is similar to genres but not quite. It is based on the idea of geology, a layer of veins within a larger layer. Examples were: Giallo - based on detective novels, Spaghetti Westerns, Mondo/Cannibal film, Poliziottesco - police procedure. Mario Bava, Dario Argento and Lucio Fulci were filmmakers who could create stylish, expressionistic films. Some of them included a fair bit of gore and could question the standars of 'good taste'. 'The Girl Who Knew Too Much' was created by Mario Bava in 1960 and this was the first Giallo with many of its defining characteristics. They would normally have the same structure where a tourist who is private detective views the murder. They would go to Italy and observe something horrific, their job is to solve it. The detective would normally work in the creative industry: an artist, writer, musician, fashion or photography. This would evoke a cosmopolitan feel, show the 'jet set' life to the audience. It often would show the cityscape of Rome or Milan for example, very few Giallos were set in rural locations. There was no sophistication if shot there.

Dario Argento is considered as the Italian Hitchcock. He too places himself in his films but as the killers black gloves. He would direct 'set pieces' which were visually stunning to get the audiences attention. There was no actual sound recorded at the time of filming, this was considered as a cheaper way, more economic as languages could then be dubbed over with ease when shown in other countries. Argento's family consisted of many producers and some actresses so there was a strong family connection between them. You could argue that Argento is actually an Auteur as he came up with innovative ideas.

J&B Whiskey appeared in many films as product placement. It would represent contemporary, modern and the 'jet set' life. It would be different to the audiences life and would sell them the lifestyle rather than the whiskey. The whiskey just became a factor that would be acknowledged with the rich lifestyle.


You could question whether Vernacular cinema is dead or not. Cinemas these days are big multiplexes aimed more towards people with a mode of transport. It makes cinema more of a special event, especially with the prices of tickets always increasing. As DVDs and digital formats have come into place, film watching tends to be more at home these days, the social aspects have been confined and restricted to the home. However it has influenced American and Canadian Giallo. Black Swan, Death Proof, Dressed to Kill, Halloween and Black Christmas are all examples which have taken influence from Italian Giallo.

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