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Parola del Giorno | ILGUR | Italy in Literature

Monday, February 9, 2009


If you're looking for some lively debate "all'italiana", then check out a very popular RAI television show called AnnoZero - a program which brings together guests from all aspects of Italian politics and current events for lively debates on current events and important issues. This is a great program, and previous episodes can be watched online or live on the web site, and it is one of the few programs that those outside of Italy can watch through RAI's web site without having to be in the country.

Last week's program (on February 5, 2009) discussed a controversial law that seeks to limit wiretaps on telephones and to punish those who publish such converations in the press. The debate proved to be quite "lively". An archive of past shows can also be watched online. The sound and picture quality are quite good, and you're bound to learn a lot watching these programs. Not only will you get a good "language workout" but you'll learn a lot about issues facing Italy and Italians at the same time!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Divorzio all'italiana

Marcello Mastroianni plays the role of "cornuto" very well in Pietro Germi's Divorzio all'italiana (Divorce, Italian Style), and this film is certainly a testament to his skills as an actor and as an artist.  If you're looking to improve your Italian listening skills, what better way than with this exquisite film by Pietro Germi.

This black-and-white film is a comedy on so many levels and vascillates between serious and comedic at various intervals throughout the movie.  Brilliant are the flashbacks and dream sequences, as well as certain sections where the protaganist, Ferdinando (played by Mastroianni), reminds the tape only to see the action of the film "rewound" for the viewer, who is privileged not only to hear by to see the events as they happen.  Flashbacks provide comedic interludes, such as when Ferdinando dreams of his wife being engulfed in quicksand while buried under beach sand or when he wishes her dead, stabs her and then drowns her in the very soap that provokes her anger. 

The film is a flashback of events that happened three years from the "present day" in which the film begins, and we sit back and watch the events unfold through the character of Ferdinando, which provides a unique perspective of the film's events. The story is a silly one on so many levels and begins with Mastroianni's character longing for a divorce from his suffocating wife so that he can marry his cousin, the beautiful Angela.  With divorce being illegal and Mastroianni's character of some importance, he must play the situation carefully.  Mastroianni orchestrates for his wife to fall in love with another so that he can finally be free of her.

The story is so masterful and creative that to reveal it all here would not do it justice.

As a student of Italian, this film provides a plethora of opporunity to test your language skills as well as learn new words as well as experience a wonderful gem of Italian cinematic history.  It's so fun to watch a film without the aid of subtitles, although there were a few instances where I was lost and used the subtitles briefly.

Criterion's web site has an excellent essay on the movie, and I would also recommend the Criterion edition of the film, as it has been restored (although the subtitles, if you need them, are useful but not always completely accurate).  The Italian version (in PAL format) is also available, too.