The Representation of Urban Space in the Italian Cinema of the Economic Miracle

Doctoral Dissertation


The present study investigates the representation of urban space in the Italian cinema of the economic miracle. Italian cinema negatively depicted the physical and social transformations that took place in the 1950s. Italian films critiqued the urban politics of the Christian Democrats by offering a counternarrative to the positive image presented on television and in other media. This study examines three major films – Pier Paolo Pasolini’s Mamma Roma (1962), Michelangelo Antonioni’s La notte (1961), and Francesco Rosi’s Le mani sulla città (1963) – in which issues related to cities are addressed, and in which cities are not merely used as settings but directly shape the narrative and the films’ ideology. This discussion takes into consideration the significance of locations and how cinematic space interacts with the characters. The three films offer criticism, that may also be found in a broad range of Italian films, of the dominant center-right culture of the Christian Democrats, and hence may be considered exemplary of a trend in contemporary Italian cinema. Particular attention is paid to the class-based conflict at the basis of the three films, which is depicted through a contrast between different built environments. The three films denounce the physical transformations brought about by the government and private interests, which were detrimental to lower-class citizens. The multidisciplinary character of the dissertation offers new insights into both the Italian cinema and the politics of urban planning of the economic miracle, a pivotal period in both their histories.


Attribute NameValues
Author Alberto Lo Pinto
Contributor Zygmunt G. Baranski, Research Director
Degree Level Doctoral Dissertation
Degree Discipline Italian (PhD-only)
Degree Name Doctor of Philosophy
Defense Date
  • 2018-06-25

Submission Date 2018-07-05
Record Visibility Public
Content License
  • All rights reserved


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