Italian cinema: Gian Maria Volonté’s 90th anniversary
- WTI Magazine #163 May 20, 2023
Ninety years ago, on April 9, 1933, one of the brightest stars of Italian cinema was born: Gian Maria Volontè. His legacy lives not only through his incredible performances, but also thanks to the artistic contributions he left to his successors, in particular the prestigious film and acting school in Rome that bears his name which to this day nurtures young talents with a deep passion for cinema.
Rebellious, magnetic, socially engaged, are three of the most used definitions to describe Volontè, one of the greatest actors of all time, both in Italy and abroad.
Born in Milan but raised in Turin, he made his screen debut in 1960. During his long and prolific career, he worked with some of the greatest Italian directors of all times of the likes of westerns’ Maestro Sergio Leone, famously featuring in his masterpieces Per un pugno di dollari – A Fistful of Dollars (1964) and Per qualche dollaro in più – For a Few Dollars more (1965), portraying cynical, ruthless, iconic characters along with Clint Eastwood. In 1966 he was directed by Mario Monicelli in the cult movie L’armata Brancaleone - The Incredible Army of Brancaleone, one of the greatest successes of Italian cinema.
At the end of the 1960s he started to approach politically engaged social cinema: high-profile social dramas that depicted the political and social stirrings of the society of the 1960s and 1970s, most of them directed by the great Elio Petri; among these even the masterpiece La classe operaia va in paradiso – The working class goes to heaven (1971), which earned Elio Petri the Grand Prix at the Cannes International Film Festival and Gian Maria Volonté a Special Mention for his performance, the masterpiece is currently available on Movieitaly in a fabulous 4K restoration in original language with English subtitles, among with other incredible titles with the unforgettable performances of Gian Maria Volonté.
The movie, starring also the unforgettable Mariangela Melato, had a great impact on the European society of the time, as it analyzed the ambiguous power relations between the working class, the masters of the factories and the unions in the middle of the years of protests and strikes. The screenplay was written after encounters with Italian factory workers discussions about their working conditions. Volonté’s highly praised performance perfectly depicts the worker’s discomfort, oppressed by a creeping daily despair.
Another example of Volonté’s commitment to social and political cinema is the masterpiece by Francesco Rosi Uomini Contro – Many Wars Ago (1970). This movie, which apparently talks about the First World War, fought on the Italian Alpine front between 1916 and 1917, makes a deeper reflection that goes beyond the simple historical episode. For Uomini Contro – Many Wars Ago, the Great War was not fought and won by the generals and military heroes, but by the oppressed nations who paid its price, helpless checkers of power games between nations that considered them only as numbers.
Don’t miss the chance to review some of Volonté’s best performances on Movieitaly, the first streaming platform all’italiana, using a special discount dedicated to WeTheItalians magazine readers for 10% OFF on the Yearly Subscription: Movieitaly4WTI.
Among the others, Gian Maria Volonté has received some of the most important awards of the industry: he won two awards at the Venice International Film Festival, the Pasinetti Award and the career Golden Lion in 1991, two awards for the best male performance at the Cannes International Film Festival, and one Silver Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival.
Thanks to his unrivalled versatility he crossed themes and genres, experimenting television, but also working in famous comedies such as Il magnifico cornuto – The magnificent Cuckold in 1964 directed by master of comedy Antonio Pietrangeli, along with Claudia Cardinale and Ugo Tognazzi. Classic of the Italian comedy, the film revolves around the protagonist’s obsession for his wife’s affair. The movie reflects on the society of the time, filled with consumerism and appearance, capturing an image of the 1960s society while raising important reflections still relevant today. Il magnifico cornuto – The magnificent Cuckold is now available on Movieitaly, an Italian classic with an amazing cast that you can’t miss!
Movieitaly offers masterpieces of the Italian cinema as well as a vast selection of genres: spaghetti western, Italian comedy, 70s and 80s horrors, and of course even the best of contemporary titles! All in original language with English subtitles, with a special collection with French subtitles, for real cinema lovers across the world.
You can watch Movieitaly on your computer at the link www.movieitaly.net, or download the app on your phone through the Apple App Store and Google Play. The app is available also for Chromecast, Airplay and Samsung and LG SmartTV, and will be soon on Roku.