This summer, Dr Marco Paoli, Lecturer in Italian Studies, will be completing an article regarding Italian cinema in the 1960s. His aim is to expand his research on the generic diversity and versatility of Carlo Lizzani’s work and its ‘popular’ stylistic and narrative elements. In particular, in the context of Lizzani’s oeuvre, his comedies including Il carabiniere a cavallo (1961), La vita agra (1964), La Celestina P… R… (1964) and L’autostrada del sole, Lizzani’s episode in Thrilling (1965), reflect Italian style comedy’s capacity to draw attention to topical subjects and to the most recent social transformations by exploring the implications of emerging gendered tensions and forms of criminality in the early-mid 1960s, and by engaging viewers from an emotional and intellectual perspective.
In short, this article will trace Lizzani’s depiction of the changing nature of Italian society as a consequence of the economic miracle. Attention will be paid to the development of Italian film comedy and the director’s capacity to exploit the potential of comedy at the peak of the 1960s to elaborate a detailed portrayal of contemporary Italy and, at the same time, to highlight the contradictions and deleterious effects of the post-war changes in society. Therefore, by focusing on the representation of criminality and gender issues in Italian style comedies, and in particular by analysing La Celestina P… R… in this context, Lizzani and his films will be seen to have greater cinematic significance than has previously been thought.
Dr Paoli argues that Lizzani emphasizes the ambivalence of comedy by contrasting the form of the film and the implications of its content with the portrayal of the main character, Celestina (played by Assia Noris), an impudent figure inspired by Celestina, the popular Fernando Rojas’ character. Assia Noris (who was not only the protagonist but also co-scriped and, most importantly, produced the film) selected Lizzani as the film director in a comedy set in the middle of the 1960s economic miracle ‘when sex was also equated with consumerism and access to power’.