Masters of Two Arts: Re-Creation of European Literature in Italian Cinema


366 pages
Contains Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-8020-8475-3
DDC 791.43'6





Reviewed by Anna Migliarisi

Anna Migliarisi is an assistant professor in the English Department at
Acadia University.


This is an elegant study of the theoretical, historical, and cultural
complexities of filmic adaptations of French, German, and Russian
literatures in modern Italian cinema. The concept of adaptation is here
replaced with re-creation, derived from Eisenstein’s theory of
cinematic equivalents. As Carlo Testa argues in his introduction to the
volume, “re-creation is able to acknowledge what ‘adaptation’ does
not: form as a phenomenon-structuring law.”

Testa focuses on nine filmic re-creations organized in four sections
under the headings “Epigraphic,” “Coextensive,” “Mediated,”
and “Hypertextual.” They include Alberto Lattuada’s Il Cappotto
(1952), based on Nikolai Gogol’s short story “The Overcoat”; Pier
Paolo Pasolini’s Salo or The 120 Days of Sodom (1975), based on the
Marquis de Sade’s 18th-century text; and Luchino Visconti’s Death in
Venice, inspired by Thomas Mann’s novella of the same name. The
volume—which includes a persuasive introduction and conclusion, 100
pages of detailed notes, a five-page filmography, and a
bibliography—is a useful companion to Testa’s fine work Italian
Cinema and Modern European Literatures, 1945–2000 (2002), and makes a
significant scholarly contribution to this area of film studies.


Testa, Carlo., “Masters of Two Arts: Re-Creation of European Literature in Italian Cinema,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 24, 2024,