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Cinema: Italian government ends century of censorship

The Italian government scrapped the scissors that blacklisted film masterpieces such as The last tango in Paris, victim like so many others of the censorship which has been rife since 1914. From now on, it will no longer be possible to prohibit the theatrical release of a film or to condition it to cuts or modifications on the basis of moral or religious motivations .

In place of this ax will be set up a Commission for the classification of cinematographic works at the General Directorate of Cinema of the Ministry of Culture. This commission, which determines which age groups films are suitable for, is made up of 49 members, ranging from experts in the film industry and the protection of minors to representatives of parents’ associations and animal rights groups.

“With the abolition of censorship in the cinema, we are definitively leaving the system of control and intervention which allowed the State to interfere in the creative freedom of artists”, welcomed in a statement the Minister of Culture Dario Franceschini, member of the Democratic Party (PD, center-left) in the coalition government of Mario Draghi.

It’s a “important and historic milestone for Italian cinema. It was about time”, reacted for AFP Elena Boero, expert of Italian cinema.

“This is a form of accountability. We are ripe”, estimated in an interview with AFP the director Pupo Avati, whose film Bordella on the opening of a women’s brothel in Milan by an American multinational had been censored in 1975.

Many films have been targeted by censorship over the course of more than a century of existence, foremost among them almost all the films of the writer-poet-director Pier Paolo Pasolini, or the sulphurous Last tango in Paris by Bernardo Bertolucci with Marlon Brando and Maria Schneider, copies of which were destroyed except for three copies kept at the National Cinematheque.

Another famous example of a censored film, Rocco and his brothers (1960), masterpiece by Luchino Visconti with Alain Delon and Annie Girardot at the head of the bill.

According to a census carried out by Cinecensura, an online virtual exhibition promoted by the Ministry of Culture, a total of 274 Italian films, 130 American films and 321 from other countries have been censored since 1944. More than 10,000 have been released. indoors after cuts and modifications.

Paradoxically, “it also made the films more attractive, arousing the curiosity of the public, especially in the erotic field”, Pupi Avati pointed out. “We weren’t censoring films for their violence”, he also observes.

Over more than a century of existence, the motivations for censorship have evolved from political, moral and religious control to a kind of opportunism: to avoid censorship in order to be able to obtain state subsidies.

The last major case of censorship dates back to 1998 with the film Totò who lived twice by Daniele Ciprì and Franco Marescoest, located in a monstrous and apocalyptic Palermo teeming with grotesque and blasphemous characters, and which was violently attacked by Catholic circles.

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