The Threepenny Review

The Master

OF THE GREAT living world filmmakers, Marco Bellocchio may be the least recognizable name, at least outside his native Italy, though he has been working for nearly six decades and has released twenty-seven fiction features, five documentaries, sixteen shorts, and six TV episodes. (He turns eighty-one this year.) Many of them never opened on these shores, though Good Morning, Night (2003), Vincere (2009), and his latest, The Traitor, all had art-house runs here and received glowing reviews. He emerged in the Italian New Wave era, when Italy was turning out the most exciting movies since neo-realism faded in the mid-Fifties. Those films (by

Vittorio De Sica, Roberto Rossellini, and the like) were overtaken by the increasingly fanciful, solipsistic creations of Fellini, along with lush

Technicolor comedies that often featured Sophia Loren and Marcello

Mastroianni and were sometimes directed by a milder, more complacent

De Sica—the De Sica whose output synched up with the kind of movies he’d made as a leading man before he turned his hand to directing.

But by the Sixties the Italian film industry, like that of many other countries including this one, fell under the spell of the French New Wave iconoclasts, and the directors who came on the scene, most of them young men, set off a series of explosions – though only one, Bernardo Bertolucci, who made Before the Revolution in 1964, became truly famous beyond his national boundaries. There were Gillo Pontecorvo (The Battle of Algiers), Francesco Rosi (The Moment of Truth), Carlo Lizzani (), and Elio Petri (). The New Wavers were restless, probing, and challenging. They took genres apart and put them back together again with some of the parts missing and stylistic elements thrown in that sharpened your senses like newsprint in a Picasso canvas. They were loaded with temperament, ferociously intelligent, sometimes really shocking: more than half a century later, , which justifies terrorism, continues to prick and unsettle viewers.

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