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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Planes, Trains, Automobiles, Bicycles, Spaceships and an Elephant: Images of Movement from Neorealism to the commedia all’italiana

  • Author(s): Rushing, Robert Allen
  • et al.
Creative Commons 'BY-NC' version 4.0 license

This paper looks at literal forms of mobility in the commedia all'italiana, forms that proliferate (as my tongue-in-cheek title suggests) in the 1950s and 60s. The automobile in particular was a moving image in many senses: it was an image of the literal movement that characterized the Italian peninsula in the postwar period, an emblem of the newfound socio-economic mobility that emerges at the same time, and finally an image that was understood to move the audience, to elicit an emotional reaction. Scholarship on the commedia has long recognized the importance of the automobile, but here I argue two points: (1) the automobile is in fact only one form of "moving image," one image of mobility, deployed in the cinema of the 1950s and 60s, and should be understood particularly in terms of the "moving images" offered by neorealism in the 1940s and 50s, and (2) scholarship on the commedia has regularly described its "love affair" with the automobile, but the emotions elicited by images of mobility in the commedia are in fact much more fraught: anxiety, fear and anguish are frequently the emotions at the heart of their comedy

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