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La Dolce Morte: Vernacular Cinema and the Italian Giallo Film Paperback – 2 Oct 2006

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Product details

  • Paperback: 210 pages
  • Publisher: The Scarecrow Press, Inc. (2 Oct. 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0810858703
  • ISBN-13: 978-0810858701
  • Product Dimensions: 15.4 x 1.1 x 23.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 437,097 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Review

...an interesting study of Giallo...a very detailed analysis of the main themes of the genre... Killing In Style La Dolce Morte is an informed and engaging examination of neglected and marginalized films that purposely provokes readers to re-examine biases against the giallo. Rue Morgue La Dolce Morte presents sound and interesting textual analysis of an impressive number of gialli. Senses Of Cinema ...this is a serious contribution to film studies. It opens a side of Italian cinema that is rarely studied. Recommended. CHOICE, Vol. 44, No. 11 (July 2007) ...a carefully constructed presentation and discussion of one of the most important phenomena in modern cinema. Film Studies "Giallo," Italian for "yellow," is applied to a vernacular film genre (e.g., Sergio Martino's Torso, 1973) based on mystery novels with bright yellow covers that an Italian publisher has been producing since the 1920s. In the context of psychodynamics and Italian audiences, Koven (film and television studies, U. of Wales, Aberystwyth) explores themes including the outsider, sexually-driven murder, the amateur detective's role, and a view of these films from Pasolini's theory of a "cinema of poetry." He concludes that gialli, like other horror cinema, reflect modernity's ambivalence toward both traditional folk beliefs and science. Reference and Research Book News Koven's study is highly detailed and wide ranging. Koven clearly adores his chosen subject and explores it with an eye to accessibility-he often writes wittily but always lucidly-and these are reasons why the book is so engaging. Gothic Studies Koven's well-organized catalog of the subgenre's characteristics makes his book a valuable reference tool as well as an incisive critical study. The American Society Of Cinematography

About the Author

Mikel J. Koven is Senior Lecturer in Film and Television Studies at the University of Worcester. He is the author of Blaxploitation Films (2001) and Films, Folklore and Urban Legends (Scarecrow, 2007).

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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Big Jim McBob on 16 April 2007
Format: Paperback
La Dolce MorteI finished reading Mikel Koven's La Dolce Morte: Vernacular Cinema and the Italian Giallo last night, and thought I'd say a few words about it.

First of all, as I mentioned before, this is an excellent study, and nothing else like it exists. Academics, for the most part, tend to shun gialli anyway, assuming them to be unworthy of serious study, but, even when one looks at things from a less scholarly perspective, there is a real dearth of available books focusing on this genre, with perhaps the only English language title dedicated to the giallo being Adrian Luther Smith's Blood and Black Lace, a guide that is exhaustive in its breadth but, for that very reason, lacks depth.

Generally, it seems that most scholars ignore gialli because they don't consider them to be "good" cinema, lacking the sophistication and "art" of the more highly regarded Italian films by the likes of Michelangelo Antonioni and Federico Fellini. Even those who do study giallo films tend to be dismissive of the bulk of the genre, focusing on the films of Dario Argento or Mario Bava at the expense of all others. Maitland McDonagh, for example, who was the first scholar to seriously study Argento, in her book Broken Mirrors, Broken Minds claimed that the "outlandish titles" of the non-Argento gialli are "the only interesting things about them", effectively rejecting an entire genre, barring the output of one of its most prominent directors.

Koven's argument is that such scholars are looking at these films in the wrong way. He points out that they were originally intended to be played to a working class, non-critical audience who had little interest in sophistication and intelligent plotting, preferring instead to be entertained by a parade of sex and violence.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 4 reviews
12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
The First English Language Study of the Giallo 18 May 2007
By Shaun Anderson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Mikel J. Koven's academic study of the Italian genre known as giallo is destined to become an important part of the discourse surrounding this much maligned culturally specific form. This book is the first of its kind, an English language study which takes a broad approach to the genre, and doesn't just centre in on a few exceptional directors and films. The first few chapters are the most interesting and add to the debate around popular European cinema and the possible reasons for its dismissal and marginalisation. Koven proposes the term 'vernacular cinema' rather than popular, and argues that giallo films were constructed formally and thematically for a working class rural audience. Therefore the language of these films is one that is formed by and recognisable too a certain type of audience in Italy. An audience which would have both a fascination and ambivalence toward the chic cosmopolitan modernity represented by these films. Koven further argues this was a distracted and unfocused audience, hence the giallo's reliance on punctuating dull narrative exposition with graphic and violent set pieces. I would suggest that it is in Koven's discussion of the reception and consumption of giallo that holds the greatest interest. The remainder of the book is a broad, but extremely well written exploration of the formal and thematic conventions of giallo, for die hard fans of these films this will seem familiar, but its very nice having it written down in academic terms for future reference. Koven's discussion of the set piece is also noteworthy, in that he suggests the set piece, which seems to continue long after its narrative justification, is very close to Pasolin's concept of poetic cinema. It is hard to argue for these films in the terms of art cinema, but Koven pulls it off. This is certainly not the last word on giallo within academic terms of reference, but it is an excellent starting point and will become a crucial book for students of popular European cinematic forms.
5 of 9 people found the following review helpful
OVERLY COMPLICATED ANALYSIS - NOT WHAT YOU MAY EXPECT 9 Aug. 2012
By Explorator - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book may initially appear to be an essential purchase for Giallo lovers but I suggest you do more research before purchasing it. I'm no mental midget (my favorite authors are H.P. Lovecraft and Clark Ashton Smith) but I found this book INCREDIBLY BORING. The author was apparently trying to show off his ability to make everything cold and scholarly and writes in an annoying, condescending and overly complicated style throughout the entire book. However he's not fooling everyone. I know the meanings of almost every word he uses but I take issue with his constant use of sophisticated words for even the simplest of statements. It becomes annoying after just a few paragraphs yet continues mercilessly throughout the entire book.

He apparently sees hidden meaning in EVERYTHING, which is sure to test the nerves and common sense of even the most jaded reader of complicated writing. This is one of those books that people are usually reluctant to criticize for fear of being perceived as a simpleton but I'm not afraid to speak out about such a waste of time and energy and call it what it is. I actually made a point to slough through this convoluted miasma of psychoanalysis as a sheer test of endurance but I'm here to tell you that it was one of the most unsatisfying and ANNOYING experiences I've EVER had reading a book. It was a huge disappointment to see such a stylistic and imaginative genre reduced to a cold and over-analyzed topic of sheer boredom. This ponderous tome is being sold from the 'concept' of an intelligent and sophisticated analysis of giallo movies (a concept which is sure to stimulate one's imagination and has no doubt sold many copies for this author), but the execution of the concept here would bore a rocket scientist to tears. Highly recommended for insomniacs ONLY.
3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Wonderful break down of the giallo film 8 Sept. 2007
By Haystack - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
While portions of this excellent treatise on the ultra violent Italian filone known as the giallo are dry and, imo -best left for academia than print- what makes Koven's book special are the chapters on what elements constitute a giallo film.

From the amateur detectives to the killer(s), inventive set-pieces and everything in between, this portion of Koven's book makes my gialli viewing experiences all the more fun.
1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Academic Genre Study for the Ages 21 Mar. 2013
By N.C. - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I found myself drawn to the unique mystic of Giallo cinema over the years as a film lover. Having difficulty learning more about a genre that allowed me hours of entertainment, I went went looking for anything I could get my hands on. How lucky I (still) feel having come across such a thorough and detailed study!
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