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Paolo and Vittorio Taviani

Paolo and Vittorio Taviani were Italian filmmakers who were always political and in love with literature, specifically Luigi Pirandello. Through their satire, their allegorical stories and their social commentary, the Taviani brothers, for over 60 years, managed to captivate us into their magic world. Together, they directed over 25 films (two of which with director Valentino Orsini and one with Joris Ivens), short and TV films and miniseries. Here are Taviani Brothers best films.

10. The Subversives (1967)

To begin with, the first film that Taviani Brothers had the full control of scriptwriting and direction. It is a political film covering different storylines during the death and funeral of Palmiro Togliatti, the leader of the Italian Communist Party. It is a very good introduction into understanding their world and philosophy.

9. Elective Affinities (1996)

When you try to adapt Goethe, the result may be catastrophic. Hopefully, that wasn’t the case in this film by Paolo and Vittorio Taviani. From one side, excellent scenery and costumes and decent performances by Isabelle Hupert and Fabrizio Bentivoglio. On the contrary, the slow pace might tire audiences who are not familiar with Taviani’s work.

8. Night Sun (1990)

We have already mentioned that Taviani Brothers loved literature. In this story, they adapt a short story by Leo Tolstoy and they replace all the Russian locations and names by ones in Southern Italy. The details to portray the Italian landscape are exceptional. The music score by Nicola Piovani fits perfect to the atmosphere that Taviani Brothers are building and the miracles are keep happening!

7. The Meadow (1979)

A young man from Milano heads to Tuscany to sell some property. Over there, he will meet Eugenia, with whom he falls in love, and her lover Enzo. Through their interaction, we explore the hard situation in the countryside, the battles for agricultural redistribution and several other philosophical questions that are always present in Taviani’s filmography. Isabella Rossellini is outstanding as Eugenia. And as always, the music by Ennio Morricone is so unique.

6. Ceasar Must Die (2012)

The Taviani Brothers were active for over 50 years when they directed this film. Nevertheless, they achieved to present to us a film that was shot in a prison and it tells the story of inmates who prepare for a performance of William Shakespeare’s “Julius Ceasar”. Mostly shot in black-and-white, “Ceasar Must Die” is a social commentary on the conditions in prison and the rights of the inmates. And most of all, that Art can be really for everyone.

5. St. Michael Had a Rooster (1972)

How can you hold your ideals when you are imprisoned for a very long time? And how can you trust your comrades when everything has changed? These are only some of the questions that seek answers throughout this movie. One of the best films by Taviani Brothers, it was also the first, in our opinion, that showed what they could achieve in the next years.

4. Padre Padrone (1977)

They won the Palme d’Or at Cannes Film Festival for this film. However, we place it in 4th place. That clearly indicates how great the Taviani Brothers were. As a matter of fact, it is a great film, about a young shepherd who has to go against the law of his father. A movie which criticizes the patriarchal society and the conservative environment on rural areas. An outstanding performance by Omero Antonutti as the Father. A must watch film.

3. The Night of the Shooting Stars (or The Night of San Lorenzo) (1982)

Undeniably, one of the best films about WWII ever made. “The Night of the Shooting Stars” presents the story of Italians who want to be liberated by the Axis forces and join the Allied ones. With one of the most poetic and extraordinary battle scenes you will ever see.

2. Kaos (1984)

Kaos” is not a movie, it is an experience. If you are familiar with Pirandello’s bibliography, then you know what to expect. If not, we suggest you to explore this great Italian writer. And what best introduction other than “Kaos” by Taviani Brothers? To begin with, this film includes 4 short stories by Pirandello, along with an epilogue, of Pirandello himself and his fictional return to his house after his mother had died. We have already spoken about the magic realism in the work of Taviani Brothers, but this time, they achieved something exceptional. We do not want to say more, just trust us and and you will certainly absorb into its magic.

1. Allonsanfan (1974)

If Marcello Mastroianni hadn’t collaborated with Federico Fellini in “8 1/2” and “La Dolce Vita“, then his role on this film would have been the best of his career (for a list with Mastroianni’s top films, check here). First of all, Marcello Mastroianni plays Fulvio, an old anarchist who wants to retire. Unfortunately for him, his old comrades do not want that. Simply because they see him as their leader. No matter his efforts to hide, Fulvio always gets involved. Undoubtedly, one of the most political films by Taviani Brothers, “Allonsanfan” explores political alliances, the need for a leader and the human nature along with the political actions. Furthermore, the music by Ennio Morricone simply outlines all the decisions taken during the film. Having said all the above, watch the trailer and you will understand why we love this film:

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