Sunday, October 15, 2006

Contemporary Italian History Italian-style

My wife brought home a DVD of an Italian film, La Meglio Gioventù. We started watching this on Friday night and one thing my wife neglected to tell me that it was a 6 hour film. (I think it was adapted from a RAI TV drama). It was the story of two brothers and their journey from the end of their university days in the 1960s to their lives in present day Italy. It was stunning. The characters were very well developed and the story was interwoven with the political turmoil in the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s, complete with the student riots in Turin, to the activities of the Red Brigades, and finally the political scandals of kickbacks (Tangentopoli) that brought down the Democratic Christian party. Much of it we found interesting because both my wife and I remember the the times very well. She lived there in 70s and 80s and I remember watching the news stories from the US RAI broadcasts. But the political backdrop of a turbulent Italy is really just the icing on the cake. I thought the story of these brothers, the family, and their friends was just riveting. Sure the brothers represented some pretty typical archetypes of the day, Nicola (Luigi LoCascio) the sensitive, intellectual who becomes a psychiatrist and Matteo (Alessi Boni) the restless rebel turned cop who can never seem to find peace in his personal or professional life. Together they move through personal triumphs and tragedies as they move within the externally "stable" yet troubled society. I highly recommend the movie. If you can't speak Italian, it's worth reading subtitles for 6 hours. Do it like we did. Watch 3 on Friday night then wake up make breakfast and watch the other 3 hours. You'll feel transported to a lost place and time and think of the characters as old friends even if you didn't already grow up with them.

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