My Voyage to Italy

Director: Martin Scorsese


Apart from being a great film-maker, Martin Scorsese is also a highly respected teacher and cinema historian who is a leader in the campaign for film preservation. One of his many current projects is a full restoration of Sergio Leone’s Once Upon a Time in the West, a labour of love which can be seen as an extension of this wonderful 2001documentary tribute to Italian cinema.
Standing on the roof of his childhood home in New York, Scorsese recounts how he saw many Italian films as a boy on his parents’ small black-and-white TV and was fascinated by the magic and emotion of these classics. He talks about the Italian historical epics such as Cabiria (1914), The Iron Crown (1941) and Fabiola (1949), noting that their texture and detail made them much more convincing than their Hollywood counterparts.
Scorsese then moves on to concentrate on the key post-war movement known as Italian neorealism. After providing excellent introductions to key directors such as Luchino Visconti, Vittoria De Sica and Roberto Rossellini, Scorsese serves up detailed commentaries on their major works.
He is particularly strong in his defence of neo-realism as a philosophical art movement that was an entirely appropriate response to the damage the Second World War did to Italy. There’s also a brilliant tribute to Federico Fellini (I vitelloni inspired Mean Streets; 81/2 is one of Scorsese’s favourite films) and an invaluable appreciation of Antonioni’s modernist masterpieces of the 1960s. Like the work it celebrates, Scorsese’s own epic film is touched by greatness.

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