Italo Calvino on That Hollywood Feeling

Short Takes — Sep 2, 2015
Italo Calvino

We love it when great novelists write about cinema—they’re often able to capture something ineffable and magical about the form that critics may have come to take for granted. Case in point: the New York Review of Books has posted a gorgeous excerpt from a personal essay Italo Calvino (Invisible Cities) wrote in 1974 about being obsessed with Hollywood movies while growing up in Italy in the ’30s, which he remembered as a golden era before his country’s wartime embargo on American films. His observations—about, among other things, how being in a dark theater throws one’s temporal consciousness out of whack; the strength of American women on-screen; and the importance of bit-part character actors—are rich, evocative, and well worth a read. The entire long essay, “A Spectator’s Autobiography,” is available in Contra Mundum Press’s new English-language edition of the 1980 book Making a Film, by Federico Fellini.

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