Understanding the Italian Filone

Topics: Film genres, Film, Art film Pages: 343 (116336 words) Published: November 17, 2010
University of Glasgow Department of Film and Television Studies

Beyond “Brutality”: Understanding the Italian Filone’s Violent Excesses

by

Robert J. Edmonstone Matriculation #: 9703623 Supervisors: Dr. Ian Garwood / Dr. Karen Boyle

2

Contents

Abstract Acknowledgements Introduction 1. Introducing the Filone: Industry, Cycles and Censorship 2. Investigating Violence and Spectacle in the Filone 3. Theorising Excess and Violence in the Filone 4. Narrative versus Excess in the Filone 5. Violence, Attractions and the Filone Viewer 6. “Sonic Spectacle” and Mismatching Conclusion Appendix A: Core Corpus of Study Appendix B: Filoni Examined for Study Filmography Bibliography

4 6 7 27 71 98 129 188 231 266 277 280 288 297

3

Figures

1.4.1

Italian, French and American Peplum Posters

p.48

1.4.2

Western Posters

p.51

1.4.3

Giallo Posters

pp.53-4

1.4.4

Poliziotteschi Posters

p.56

1.4.5

Horror Filone Posters

p.59

1.4.6

Mondo / Cannibal Film Posters

p.61

1.4.7

Other Minor Filone Posters Scene-by-Scene Overview of Uomini si nasce poliziotti si muore Scene-by-Scene Overview of Solamente Nero (Dis)equilibria in Uomini si nasce poliziotti si moure and Solamente Nero Song and Dance Numbers in Singin’ in the Rain

pp.63-4

4.3.1

pp.144-8

4.3.2

pp.149-56

4.3.3

p.158

4.3.4

p.179-80

5.2.1

Opening Sequence of Shane

pp.195-200

5.2.2

Opening Sequence of Mannaja Extract from Opening Sequence of 2019 - Dopo la caduta di New York Dual Focus in the Filone

pp.205-9

6.4.1

pp.241-5

7.1.1

p.274

4

Abstract “Brutality” has long been held up by critics to be one of the defining features of the Italian filoni; a body of popular genre film cycles (peplum mythological epics, horror films, giallo thrillers, poliziotteschi crime dramas, westerns and others) released during a frenzied period of film production between the late 1950s and mid 1980s. A disproportionate emphasis on scenes of often extreme violence and spectacle can be traced across all of the cycles, resulting in a habitual “weakening” of narrative and disruption of the filmic continuities fundamental to mainstream cinema. This emphasis and the uneasy pleasures that it provides have led to a distinct ghettoisation of the filoni within English-language film criticism, with historical accounts of Italian cinema ignoring the films completely, dismissing them as “trash” or portraying them as parasitic counterfeits of “authentic” Hollywood genre films. Furthermore, such accounts typically fail to address the question of what it is that makes these films so violent, limiting their descriptions to blanket terms such as “brutal”, “exploitative” and “sadistic”, in the process reaffirming the idea that the filoni are simply not worthy of further study. As a result, the suggestion that the films could provide pleasures which are distinctly different from those established by mainstream cinema remains largely unaddressed. This thesis seeks to reconcile the gap between my own personal engagement with the films and the lack of attention that has been devoted to them within critical AngloAmerican discourses. Drawing on the “paracinematic” approach highlighted by Sconce (1995), I seek to demonstrate that it is precisely in the filoni’s often violent deviations from mainstream cinema’s established continuities where their most remarkable features lie, using Thompson’s (1986) concept of “cinematic excess” to illustrate the films’ overwhelming prioritisation of formal elements that exceed the limits of narrative motivation. Using narrative and close textual analysis of a representative body of filoni to identify patterns of violence, spectacle and excess across the films’ structures, I shall also illustrate the benefits of using film theories outwith their original context to shed light on non-mainstream films like the filoni, drawing in particular on the work of musical...
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