LA CUCINA EOLIANA E SICILIANA                                                                           
                                                            the food of the eolian islands and sicily

cinema in sicily
copyright © la cucina eoliana e siciliana 2012 ~ all rights reserved
The Eolian Islands have served as
backdrops for a number of notable films,
their isolation often reflecting or
underlining a film's theme or the isolation
of its characters. In 1949, Roberto
Rossellini went to the archipelago to film
Stromboli, terra di Dio (Stromboli),
starring Ingrid Bergman. During the
filming Rossellini  and Bergman began
their highly publicized affair.
Michelangelo Antonioni filmed the first
half of his exquisite masterpiece,
L'avventura (1960) in Sicily and off the
coast of Panarea on the nearby island of
Lisca Bianca.
Michael Radford's warmly touching Il
(1994), filmed almost entirely on
the island of Salina, has some
breathtaking scenes shot around the
village of Pollara and the beach below.
Based on several Pirandello short stories,
the Taviani brothers'  
Kaos (1983) was
filmed in Sicily and Lipari.
Sicilian director Giuseppe Tornatore's
Cinema Paradiso was filmed near
Palermo and Cefalù. His most recent

film, Baarìa
was filmed in and around
Bagheria, and
Malèna,  filmed in several
locations in eastern Sicily, including
Messina, Siracusa, Noto and Taormina,
while his earlier
Star Maker around
The 'isole' sequence in Nanni Moretti's
Caro Diario (1994) follows
Moretti and his friend as they hop
around the Eolian Islands while
persuing their own quirky, personal
While only a few films used the Eolian
Islands for their locations, Sicily itself has
provided the greater panorama and
inspiration for filmmakers from around
the world. Perhaps the most
internationally well known films shot in
Sicily is Francis Ford Coppola's
, based on Mario Puzo's
famous mafia novel,  Coppola returned to
Sicily to film sequences for Godfather II
and III.

Although several foreign directors have
made movies in Sicily, the Italians by far
have left the greatest cinematic
impressions of the island.

Michael Cimino's
The Sicilian (1987), also
adapted from a Puzo novel, is loosely
based on the life of Salvatore Giuliano,
Sicily's great  folk hero. Francesco Rosi's
earlier film,
Salvatore Giuliano (1961), is a
far more truthfully told and much finer
film than Cimino's beautifully shot, but
ultimately disappointing film.
Neapolitan director Francesco Rosi  
brought the story ofthe notorious Sicilian
Salvatore Giuliano (1961) to the
screen in an uncompromising view of the
effect of the bandit's life. He centered
the plot around the investigation
following Giuliano's death in 1950 and
focuses on the power struggle between
Sicilian separatists, the Allies, Mafia, and
state officials. This real-life myth proves
to be the source for a powerfully
dramatic film which earned Rosi
international status.
Pietro Germi made several films in Sicily,
beginning with the neorealist,
In nome delle legge (In the
Name of the Law), but is best known for
the satiric
Divorzio all'italiana (Divorce
Italian Style)
of 1961, starring Marcello
Mastroianni. Germi returned to Sicily in
after Divorzio to make another dark
Sedotta e abbandonata
(Seduced and Abandoned)
in 1963.
Marco Tullio Giordana's I Cento Passi
(The Hundred Steps)
pays homage to the
memory of Peppino Impastato, who
waged a campaign against the Mafia in
his hometown of Cinisi near Palermo.
During the '70s, Peppino and his friends
set up a radio station on which they
broadcast anti-mafia diatribes, which
possibly caused the death of his father,
and eventually cost Peppino his life as
I cento passi is compelling cinema
and a  moving account of Impastato's
impassioned struggle to liberate his
family and his hometown from the iron
grip of the Mafia.
Also based on fact is Placido Rizzotto, a
stunningly brilliant and suspenseful film
written and directed by Pasquale
Scimeca. In the late '40s, Rizzotto, a
trade-union leader, mysteriously
disappeared after a number of
confrontations with the Mafia over their
control of the land surrounding Corleone.
Rizzotto's  bullet riddled remains were
eventually discovered in a pit outside of
Corleone. This rigorous film takes a
stark, altogether unromantic view of the
Sicilian Mafia. The excellent film score
was composed by the Sicilian group,
Impanata Gattopardo - timballo di

The burnished gold of the crust and the
fragrance of sugar and cinnamon that
exuded, were only a prelude to the
sensation of delight released from the
interior when the knife slit the crust; first
came a steaming burst of aromas, then
chicken livers, hard-boiled eggs, slices of
ham, chicken and truffles in masses of hot,
glistening macaroni, to which the meat
juice gave an exquisite velvety brown hue.
Filmmaker Luchino Visconti, the great
opera and theater director, went to Sicily
in 1947 to make his second film,
La terra
(The Earth Trembles), which he
based on the Giovanni Verga story,
House by the Medlar Tree
. Visconti's film
is one of the landmarks of Italian
neorealist cinema and  remarkable for its
use of non-actors to convey the plight of
fishermen from the coastal village of Aci
Visconti returned to Sicily two decades
later to film his beautifully grand
adaptation of Giuseppe Tomasi di
Lampedusa's classic novel of the
The Leopard (Il
The Leopard is considered to be
Visconti's masterpiece, as well as one of
the great Italian films. Burt Lancaster
gives perhaps his finest, most noble,
performances as the Prince of Salina.

The film depicts the decline of the
aristocracy in light of Italy's changing
social and political order during the
1860s. The understanding Don Fabrizio
sums up the heart of the story:

If we want everything to remain as it is, it
will be necessary for everything to
change... All this shouldn't last; but it will,
always; the human 'always,' of course, a
century, two centuries... and after that it
will be different but worse. We were the
Leopards, the Lions; those who'll take our
place will be little jackals, hyenas; and the
whole lot of us Leopards, jackals, and
sheep, we'll all go on thinking ourselves
the salt of the earth
. --from The Leopard,
by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa