Cinema of Italy

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The history of Italian cinema began just a few months after the Lumière brothers had discovered the medium, when Pope Leo XIII was filmed for a few seconds in the act of blessing the camera.


Early years

The Italian film industry took shape between 1903 and 1908, led by three major organizations - the Roman Cines, the Ambrosio of Turin and Itala Film. Other companies were soon to follow in Milan and Naples. In a short period of time, these early companies attained a respectable production quality and soon were selling films abroad as well as inside Italy.

One of the first Italian filoni (sub-genres) was the historical film: the first work in the genre was Filoteo Alberini's La presa di Roma, 20 settembre 1870 ("The Capture of Rome, September 20, 1870"), filmed in 1905. Other films portrayed famous historical figures such as Nero, Messalina, Spartacus, Julius Caesar and Cleopatra. Arturo Ambrosio's Gli ultimi giorni di Pompei (1908, "The Last Days of Pompeii") quickly became famous, so famous that it was remade by Mario Caserini in 1913. In the same year Enrico Guazzoni directed the widely appreciated Mark Antony and Cleopatra.

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