In 1960s, Scandinavia was still no more than an exotic area for Italian public, included most intellectuals. The perception of an essentially different ‘country’ (the national differences were often not highlighted and, in any case, Sweden played the main role as the representative country of the North) led to several stereotypes, from the idea of a perfectly organized society to the image of a place where human relations were free from the compromises and the hypocrisy ruling in Southern Europe; this last trait was occasionally connected with a more profound experience of nature. Italian cinema explored in the Sixties all these and other features, from the comedy "Le svedesi" (1960, Swedish Girls) to the controversial docu-film "Svezia Inferno e Paradiso" (1968, Sweden Heaven and Hell). In this context, a peculiar position is taken by the internationally awarded "Il diavolo" (The devil), whose screenwriter, Rodolfo Sonego, planned to represent Sweden as a sort of land of the future, certainly marked by a high degree of emancipation, but also – and likely above all – by an enigmatic sense of life, which was expressed by silence even more than by provocative conversations. The male protagonist, Alberto Sordi, already a star in Italy, acts as usual as the Italian macho in search of love affairs, but is humiliated during the whole film, while meeting with an irreducible otherness that leads to an almost unique case in his long career, so that this film might be even looked at as a parody of the Italian comedy itself. Il diavolo is considered a pioneering movie for the fruitful genre of the Italian travel comedy, or comedy about Italians abroad, and, at the same time, it displays several features that point at the Swedish (or even Scandinavian) exceptionality both in a traditional and in an original way. My contribute aims to investigate what kind of Nordic otherness is conveyed by the film, what kind of rhetoric is developed and questioned, which novelty and which limits this film has, eventually taking its controversial reception into account.

In Search of the Swedish Soul among the Stereotypes. The Italian Film "Il Diavolo" (1963, "To Bed or Not to Bed")

Finco, Davide Agostino
2021

Abstract

In 1960s, Scandinavia was still no more than an exotic area for Italian public, included most intellectuals. The perception of an essentially different ‘country’ (the national differences were often not highlighted and, in any case, Sweden played the main role as the representative country of the North) led to several stereotypes, from the idea of a perfectly organized society to the image of a place where human relations were free from the compromises and the hypocrisy ruling in Southern Europe; this last trait was occasionally connected with a more profound experience of nature. Italian cinema explored in the Sixties all these and other features, from the comedy "Le svedesi" (1960, Swedish Girls) to the controversial docu-film "Svezia Inferno e Paradiso" (1968, Sweden Heaven and Hell). In this context, a peculiar position is taken by the internationally awarded "Il diavolo" (The devil), whose screenwriter, Rodolfo Sonego, planned to represent Sweden as a sort of land of the future, certainly marked by a high degree of emancipation, but also – and likely above all – by an enigmatic sense of life, which was expressed by silence even more than by provocative conversations. The male protagonist, Alberto Sordi, already a star in Italy, acts as usual as the Italian macho in search of love affairs, but is humiliated during the whole film, while meeting with an irreducible otherness that leads to an almost unique case in his long career, so that this film might be even looked at as a parody of the Italian comedy itself. Il diavolo is considered a pioneering movie for the fruitful genre of the Italian travel comedy, or comedy about Italians abroad, and, at the same time, it displays several features that point at the Swedish (or even Scandinavian) exceptionality both in a traditional and in an original way. My contribute aims to investigate what kind of Nordic otherness is conveyed by the film, what kind of rhetoric is developed and questioned, which novelty and which limits this film has, eventually taking its controversial reception into account.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11567/1048428
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