Beauty and the Beast: Italianness in British Cinema by Elisabetta Girelli

By Elisabetta Girelli

Scholarly curiosity in problems with nationwide identification and illustration has been expanding for years, and cinema is an immense source for that paintings, because it enables cross-cultural discussion and the portrayal of alternative layers of illustration and cultural stereotypes. good looks and the Beast takes a glance on the depictions of Italy and the Italians in British cinema.Elisabetta Girelli attracts upon cultural and social background to evaluate the continued illustration of “Italianness” in British movie, and its an important position in defining and tough British nationwide identification. Girelli presents an unique survey of archival fabric corresponding to global warfare II photos, and an research of important British motion pictures like summer season insanity and A Room With A View. Drawing on British literary and filmic culture to research the increase of particular photographs of the Italian different, good looks and the Beast is a noteworthy and specified contribution to movie and cultural reports.

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When eleven Italians in the United States were lynched for a crime of which they had been acquitted, in 1891, the Italian press remained silent; in 1898, however, it praised the infamous General Bava Beccaris, who had used cannons to shoot striking workers in Milan (Sponza 1988, 260–65). For all the sensational aura attached to it, the Italian colony from top to bottom remained intensely conventional, at the margin of political and social change; a notable exception was the small, elitist group of illustrious exiles who found a warm reception in Britain, and whose most famous representatives were Giuseppe Mazzini and Giuseppe Garibaldi.

The Soho colony was a new addition to the Italian community, consisting of recent arrivals from prevalently urban areas of Lombardy and Piedmont; because of their city origin and their upper-market work environment, these latest immigrants kept themselves at a distance from the other group, where itinerancy and street selling was still common at the turn of the century. Two separate Italian contingents thus developed, the one in Soho and the old Holborn one, which by then had spread into Finsbury: this was still mainly composed of people from Emilia, Tuscany, and Campania (Sponza 1988, 105).

A later recovery was only possible through the arrival of British and French reinforcements, and indeed Italy would depend on Allied support for the rest of the war. The effects of Caporetto on the Italians were a regret of having joined the conflict, strengthened by bitterness at the terms of the peace agreement, which were judged a poor compensation for their sacrifices (Gibbons and Morican 1965, 69–70); internationally, their sensational collapse in the face of the enemy seemed to speak eloquently of their military worthlessness.

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