Saturday, September 19, 2009

Dino Risi and Son

Last year the great director Dino Risi died, and I didn't give him an obit, as I did for my beloved Bergman in 2007 (despite the fact that Ingmar came from the opposite end of Europe and strictly speaking had no business on this Eye-talian blog).

But recently I've gone back and looked at numerous Youtube clips of his. In particular, from his fabulous I Mostri, a 1963 episode film illustrating the "monstrous" inhabitants of Italy. Although I suggest that you watch as many of these as you can on Youtube, the one above struck me in particular because of its incredible timeliness. It's called "The Opiate of the People," Marx's famous reference to religion as a drug- but it refers to TV. We have excellent Ugo Tognazzi playing a stuporous husband, who despite the Italian male's hatred of being considered a cornuto (literally, "horned," cuckolded, cheated on) lets his beautiful young wife play him for a fool right in his own home. He's under the influence (of TV) and oblivious to everything else. Since then, the role of TV-as-drug has only gained power. But Risi was a genius to see this before anyone else, when the objective presence of television in Italian life was very limited.

Risi's son Marco has also followed his famous dad as a director. He has made numerous films about the many ills of the country, including his latest, Fortapasc, about a young journalist killed in 1985 because he was investigating the Camorra. Unfortunately, his movies are not widely available in the US. Marco Risi's website is here.