Saturday, 18 April 2009

An idea - please comment

One broad distinction between the post-1982 giallo and its earlier counterpart is that issues around Italian identity no longer seem as important.

For example, the mixture of ethnicities and nationalities amongst the characters in Nothing Underneath, with the presence of a photographer of East Asian and a model of African extraction amongst them, goes without remark.

This is in sharp contrast to the discourses of exoticism and otherness that typically employed in relation to analogous characters in the 1960s and 1970s, as with the treatment of the 'black' characters in Your Vice is a Locked Room..., The Case of the Bloody Iris and Torso.

If such an approach, along with the increasing tendency to locate narratives in the US rather than Italy can in part be read as a concession to market forces, recognising US hegemony after thirty years of Italian counter-hegemonic action, it might also be read as signifying the end of the vernacular giallo audience.

The terza visione, that is, had largely been left behind and/or incorporated into the (post)modern world.

2 comments:

Nigel said...

In the 80's, the American slasher influence became a lot more prevalent. Loud soundtracks, more emphasis on gory kills and less on a mysterious killer. I think of films like Stagefright, Photo of Goia. A good comparison is the work of Argento and how much different the mood or tone of Opera was compared to Deep Red and Tenebrae compared to the Animal Trilogy. Argento made great use of different ways to throw the viewer off towards identifying the killer, but in Opera, there seems to be very few possibilities and is fairly obvious who it is. Italian cinema became more of an imitation cinema in the 80's and that ended up being part of the reason for their decline. They probably assumed by copying the American slasher format they could bring back the success of the Giallo boom.

Anonymous said...

While the American influence obviously became a lot stronger and dominant in the 80s, I think this is a bit of an oversimplification - foreign protagonists can also be found in earlier gialli and often go without remark. Likewise, the giallo craze of the early 70s was arguably as much indebted to the thriller craze overseas (and the German krimis), the slasher craze just appears to be more dominant for two reasons:

1. slasher movies are incredibly cheap to produce and thus attracted more low budget (=lazier) producers.

2. several of the slasher stereotypes are rather hard to translate to other cultures (e.g. there are no colleges, fraternities, etc. in Europe (except for the UK, no cheerleaders and entirely different social structures (no jocks, nerds etc. or at least the hierachies aren't nearly as rigid as they are in the US) and the temtation to follow the American formula (and use an American setting) is thus far greater.

Finally, I'd argue that the very existence of local products, no matter how "Americanised" they might outwardly appear, is already proof of a still existing vernacular audience (going by the decline of the movie industry in the UK and Germany and the still somewhat successful French industry).