Obituary: Mario Monicelli, Italian filmmaker

By Rodolfo Tirabarro

We mourn the death of Italian filmmaker Mario Monicelli (May 16, 1915 – November 29, 2010). Throughout his career, Monicelli delighted movie audiences with his comedic films which explored social, cultural and political themes. This was a result of his commitment to left wing politics. However, he was not alone; a number of pioneering filmmakers in Italy also came from the left. Monicelli was an activist as well.

With the defeat of fascism and the return of parliamentary politics, a new political and cultural climate blossomed in Italy. In fact, the left had regained much of its strength. And so did the labor movement. Meanwhile, the emergence of new industries led to a migration wave from the impoverished Southern regions to the more urban and rich Northern regions. After World War II, Italian filmmakers began to dig up the past and bring to light the history of the working class. Monicelli did just that with his 1963 film The Organizer  (I Compagni [ital] los Compañeros [spa]), a drama that tells the story of textile workers in Turin who mobilized during the 1900s to demand better working conditions and higher wages. Marcelo Mastroianni plays a union organizer in this complex, dramatic and inspiring film that is required viewing for our side.

Ciao Mario! … And thank you for being funny, witty and real.