You can better understand Italy from comedies rather than from dramas.
When I was a child, I learned from our comics how Italian society was. Alberto Sordi‘s movies were among my favorites to learn and have fun with.
The list of amusing Italian movies to learn from is long. You should see Italian movies with: Vittorio Gassman, an impressive actor with dramatic and comic talent; Marcello Mastroianni and Sofia Loren, together they were magic; Nino Manfredi and others.
Behind those famous front names, you will find incredibly talented Italian authors and directors. For example, very few people know that Rodolfo Sonego, an Italian screenwriter, was beyond most of the most amusing movies from Alberto Sordi and other famous Italian actors of that time. He was one of the minds beyond the film genre “Commedia all’italiana“.
Watching those comedy movies, you will understand how it was the Italian society of those years. Nowadays, things are different, though.
Even Federico Fellini, recognized as one of the greatest and most influential filmmakers of all time, was doing comedies. In fact, his films were mostly satirical comedy-drama. This is the case for “La dolce vita“, and for many other of his films.
Today there are some incredibly good contemporary dramatic movies to learn about Italy.
In addition, the last movie by Paolo Virzì could be good to understand contemporary Italian life as well.
You must notice that these contemporary movies are not comedies, but quite dramatic films. It is more common for dramatic movies or plays to tell the story of real societies.
There is also an extensive list of old dramatic movies to watch to understand the Italian history and society.
I must mention two dramatic Italian film directors:
- Vittorio De Sica was one of the best of the best Italian film directors; he was also an incredible comic and dramatic actor. His artistic story is probably the richest in Italy.
- Francesco Rosi‘s movies were among the best examples of Italian dramatic movies.
Italians love to laugh, this is our strength, but it can also be our weakness.
In Italy now we listen more to people that make us laugh and we love them. Nowadays, Italian most powerful political leaders are “comedians” or they try hard to be funny:
- Beppe Grillo, the leader of M5S is a former famous comedian,
- Silvio Berlusconi, the right-wing leader, is an entertainer and sometimes a “comedian” as well. He is now worldwide famous also for his “comedy” performance.
- Matteo Renzi, the new leader of the left, is an entertainer and sometime a “comedian” as well.
- Matteo Salvini, the new leader of the Lega Nord Party. The first leader of Lega Nord was Umberto Bossi, he was one of the best examples of the First and Second Republic “Italian comedian leader”. Matteo Salvini, in my opinion, is not funny. He tries to compensate the gap with the quantity of his “shows”.
Politicians in the First Republic were mostly dramatic leaders, playing a serious and boring role, but Italians probably were happier once.
What are now the “funniest” sources of information about Italian society?
Contemporary Italian comedies are mainly only good to have fun, they try to make fun of contemporary life and problems without going deep.
The real heirs of the Italian historical “social comedies” tradition of Sordi, Gasman, etc., are not actually in the movies, but on television, radio and Internet, I will list the best for me:
- One of the best is Maurizio Crozza and his team of writers. To be more independent from politics, he had to go away from Rai‘s and Mediaset‘s television platforms. I am sorry that Crozza’s shows are not yet translated into English. His shows are a precious source of information on Italian society, and they are incredibly funny. Unfortunately, getting older, he became a bit too much opinionated.
- Less comic but incredibly talented and valuable is Marco Paolini and his team. He started in the theater to arrive on TV with his dramatic and comic play on Italy. His style is unique, you must see his play to understand.
- Another champion is Pif, Pierfrancesco Diliberto, He started from television and was on the Italian MTV channel with the TV program “Il Testimone”. His reports, on any aspect of Italian society, were incredibly ironic. He also made one movie about the mafia, a master peace; having fun, you will learn part of the mafia’s story in Palermo and Italy. One of the very few Italian contemporary comedies that can teach you something about Italy and make you think.
The list could be longer, but I stop here. I will update this post from time to time. Unfortunately, very few of those modern comedians and entertainers have an English version. If you find their contents in English, please let me know.
Now, If you want to relax, try the Italian way to fight the stress.