Paolo Taviani, Half of a Famed Italian Filmmaking Duo, Dies at 92

Paolo Taviani, who with his brother Vittorio made some of Italy’s most acclaimed films of the last half century — including “Padre Padrone,” which won the top prize at the Cannes Film Festival in 1977 — died on Feb. 29 in Rome. He was 92.

His son, Ermanno Taviani, said the cause of his death, in a hospital, was pulmonary edema.

The Taviani brothers emerged in the late 1950s as part of a generation of Italian filmmakers — including Bernardo Bertolucci, Pier Paolo Pasolini and Gillo Pontecorvo — who were inspired by the country’s Neorealist movement but determined to push beyond it. (Vittorio Taviani died in 2018.)

Though the brothers came from an urbane, intellectual family — their father was a lawyer, their mother a teacher — their work celebrated traditional life in the Italian countryside, where they were raised. “Padre Padrone,” for example, tells the story of a boy’s struggle between the demands of his overbearing father, who wants him to be a farmer, and his own dreams of becoming a linguist.

The Taviani brothers’ “Padre Padrone” won the top prize at the Cannes Film Festival in 1977.Credit…Radiotelevisione Italiana, via Everett Collection

They injected their films with a sense of spectacle that set them apart from the austerity of Neorealist predecessors like their idol, Roberto Rossellini, who in turn championed their work and, as the president of the Cannes jury in 1977, helped ensure that “Padre Padrone” won the festival’s coveted Palme D’or prize. It was a surprise victory in a field that included another Italian film, “A Special Day.”

“Rossellini allowed us to understand our own experiences, to truly comprehend what we had lived,” Paolo Taviani told The International Herald Tribune in 1993. “To comprehend it in a way which would have been impossible had we not seen his films. And we felt that if film had this sort of power, we wanted to master film.”

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