Giorgio Bertellini traces the origins of American cinema's century-long fascination with Italy and Italian immigrants to the popularity of the pre-photographic aesthetic-the picturesque. Once associated with landscape painting in northern Europe, the picturesque came to symbolize Mediterranean Europe through comforting views of distant landscapes and exotic characters. Taking its cue from a picturesque stage backdrop from The Godfather Part II, Italy in Early American Cinema shows how this aesthetic was transferred from 19th-century American painters to early 20th-century American filmmakers. Italy in Early American Cinema offers readings of early films that pay close attention to how landscape representations that were related to narrative settings and filmmaking locations conveyed distinct ideas about racial difference and national destiny.
Giorgio Bertellini is Assistant Professor of Screen Arts and Cultures and of Romance Languages and Literatures at the University of Michigan. He is author of Emir Kusturica. His edited and co-edited volumes include The Cinema of Italy and (with Richard Abel and Rob King) Early Cinema and the "National."
Acknowledgments Introduction: Transatlantic Racial Culture and Modern Visual Reproductions Part 1. Picturing Italy's Natural and Social Landscapes 1. Picturesque Mode of Difference 2. The Picturesque Italian South as Transnational Commodity Part 2. Picture-Perfect America 3. Picturesque Views and American Natural Landscapes 4. Picturesque New York 5. Black Hands, White Faces 6. White Hearts 7. Performing Geography Afterword: "A Mirror with a Memory" Notes Filmography Bibliography Index