Italy’s Cinecitta Luce possesses more than 100,000 films dating back to 1927. Anyone with an interest in Italian culture, history, or cinema will surely want to take a look at them, and now, thanks to a partnership between Cinecitta Luce and Google, they can. As those 100,000 films undergo digitization, they’ll make their way to Cinecitta Luce’s official Youtube channel, which offers, to roughly translate the Italian on the page, “seventy years of Italian history and social life from the twenties to the nineties,” the “priceless patrimony of our visual memory.” So far, the channel has broken the films into seven categories: art, science and literature; the Second World War; movie stars and the catwalk; protagonists of the twentieth century; the “dust archive” (which seems miscellaneous); material related to Cinecitta Luce’s current film festivals; and la dolce vita (a phrase, I would argue, better presented in the original).
At the top of this post, you’ll find a two-and-a-half-minute sequence showcasing the kind of history in motion to be found in Cinecitta Luce’s archive: musical performances, beauty pageants, culinary festivals, sporting events, movie premieres, important moments in politics and industry, and — for whatever reason — all sorts of marches. Just above this paragraph, we’ve embedded some newsreel footage of Federico Fellini fresh off his Best Foreign-Language Film Academy Award win for 8½. But the hours of material now on Cinecitta Luce’s Youtube channel represent only the tip of the iceberg. We hardly need tell Italophiles that they’ll want to consider subscribing, so as not to miss more from an archive the Hollywood Reporter describes as “rich in videos from the Vatican, the 1960 Olymics in Rome, and sceners from generations of every-day life in Rome.” And given that Benito Mussolini originally created the Cinecitta film studios and the Luce archives as engines of propaganda, they still retain the world’s largest collection of Mussolini-related film. Scholars of dictatorships, take special note!