This book is a collection of essays on the author's journeys taken during the past fifteen years. They are journeys in time and of memory about a country that no longer exists: the Italy of Roberto Rossellini's Paisà, torn by war and sometimes in conflict with the American 'liberators'. The essays concentrate on the structure and forms of the films they discuss; a confrontation of cultures, the Italy of Luchino Visconti, a territory more cultural than physical, subject to transfigurations wrought by a sophisticated intellectual who viewed the world through the lens of his sensibilities. The first three essays focus on discussions and films relating to neorealism. They seek problems and inconsistencies in points of view and prejudices that have become institutionalized in popular accounts of neorealism. The next two essays are dedicated to Visconti's commemorative and antiquarian vein, to the central importance of mise en scène (in the theatrical sense) in his films. The final essay is an attempt to recover an archetypical image in Pasolini's work. The characteristics shared by these essays include a sensitivity and knowledge of the cinema, genuine scholarship, and the ability to see aesthetic resonances to painting, literature, poetry, music. The contrast between darkness and light in Paisà and in Visconti's Vaghe stelle dell'Orsais most incisive and dramatic. They are all traversed by recurrent themes and obsessions: the contrast between darkness and light, night and day.
The journeys described in this book were
taken during the past fifteen years but refer to a period still more
distant. They are journeys in time and of memory about a country that no
longer exists: the ItalyofRobertoRossellini’s Paisà ,
torn by war and sometimes in conflict with the American
‘liberators’, a confrontation of cultures, as real now as it was
then; the Italy of Luchino Visconti, a