Orsini, Valentino

(1927-2001)
   Director. A filmmaker of unwavering social and political commitment as well as a courageous experimenter with filmic techniques, Orsini never succeeded in receiving the critical and popular recognition that he undoubtedly deserved.
   Still in his teens, Orsini fought in the Resistance movement. After the war he began organizing film clubs and writing film criticism. His early films were written and directed in close collaboration with Paolo and Vittorio Taviani, beginning with Un uomo da bruciare (A Man for Burning, 1962), a film about the union activist Salvatore Carnevale (played masterfully by Gian Maria Volonte), who was eventually murdered by the Mafia for his social activism. Further collaboration with the Taviani bothers resulted in I fuorilegge del matrimonio (Marriage Outlaws, 1963), a film in six episodes that attempted to deal with the fraught question of divorce. In 1969, inspired by the militant ideas of West Indian psychoanalyst and social philosopher Franz Fanon, Orsini directed his first solo film, I dannati della terra (The Wretched of the Earth, 1969). This was followed by Corbari (1970), the realistic, if heroic, portrayal of the maverick Resistance fighter Silvio Corbari, who was such a thorn in the side of the Fascists that, when caught, he was executed twice as an example to others. Two years later L'amante dell'Orsa Maggiore (The Smugglers, 1972) was a more mainstream and conventional story of love and intrigue adapted from a novel by Polish writer Sergiusz Piasecki. Its lackluster reception led Orsini to a period of silence until Uomini e no (Men and Not Men, 1980), another very competent literary adaptation but this time of the famous Resistance novel by Elio Vittorini. Five years later Orsini's last film, Figlio mio infinitamente caro (My Dearest Son, 1985), movingly presented the plight of a loving father attempting to save his son from advanced drug addiction. At this point, discouraged by what appeared to be a continuing lack of popular and critical reaction to his films, Orsini retired from active filmmaking, although he continued to teach at the Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia (National Film School) for a number of years.
   Historical Dictionary of Italian Cinema by Alberto Mira

Guide to cinema. . 2011.

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