Characteristics and Functions of the Neapolitan Formula

Alex Marlow-Mann

in New Neapolitan Cinema

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print February 2011 | ISBN: 9780748640669
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748651214 | DOI:
Characteristics and Functions of the Neapolitan Formula

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Traditionally, Neapolitan cinema in Italy has been identified primarily with two genres: comedy and melodrama. Neapolitan comedy derives from a rich stage tradition and is exemplified by the work of playwright-actors like Eduardo and Peppino De Filippo and of comics originating in theatrical revues and cabaret like Totò and Massimo Troisi. Neapolitan melodrama typically structures its melodramatic narratives around the concept of napoletanità (‘Neapolitanness’). These films are known as being part of the ‘Neapolitan Formula’ (NF). This chapter concentrates on the post-war cycle (1946–1959), arguably the period in which the NF achieved its fullest expression. It begins by describing the principal sources of influence on the NF: Neapolitan song, the sceneggiata and melodrama. It then explores how the NF performed an almost ritualistic function for spectators in the popular quarters of Naples and other Southern Italian cities, generating audience participation by reflecting their ‘world-view’ and providing a cathartic release for pressures specific to Naples and the South through a deliberate use of napoletanità.

Keywords: Neapolitan Formula; Neapolitan cinema; Italy; comedy; melodrama; napoletanità; Neapolitanness; Neapolitan song; sceneggiata; Naples

Chapter.  12900 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Film

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