Is sexuality the key to Italian cinema? Eroticism is ever present: from the unbridled sensuality of the orgy scenes in silent Italian cinema, through a topless Sophia Loren in a 1950s historical epic, to the image of Silvana Mangano, her skirt provocatively tucked into her underwear in the Neorealist classic Bitter Rice (RisoAmaro), and to the erotic obsessions of Fellini and the more cerebral but still passion-centred movies of Antonioni. And then there’s the popular Italian cinema: the acres of tanned flesh (both male and female) on offer in the many sword and sandal epics of the peplum era through to the inextricable mix of sexuality and violence in the gialli of such directors as Mario Bava and Dario Argento. The latter may be said to be the final exhausted sigh of Italian concupiscence: a full-on Liebestod in which death and sex meet in a blood-drenched, orgasmic finale.
KeywordsScience Fiction Bizarre Imagery Canterbury Tale Early Film Italian Cinema
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