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An Italian cinematographic genre: Cinepanettone

Everything you need to know about the Cinepanettone genre.

The birth of cinema in the early 1900s led Italians to produce documentaries, which slowly began to adopt the structure of film when elements of fiction were incorporated to interest audiences, eventually forming a movement known as “Neorealism”.

Over the years, the The Italian film industry continued to experiment with different styles storytelling until the 1980s, when the cinepanettone phenomenon became a tradition and a seasonal ritual in Italian culture.

What is a Cinepanettone?

The stereotypical nature, the time fixed for Christmas and the target audience being Italian families led to the success of this kind of comedy in Italy. So how exactly did this movement start and how did it manage to secure its place in the great plethora of Italian traditions?

The derogatory term “cinepanettone” was first used by movie critics to refer to a mass-market comedy product specifically released during the Christmas time, which is characterized by factors such as repetition in the plot, the use of the same actors over the years, and huge box office success.

The fathers of the genre are Carlo and Enrico Vanzina, who rose to fame after directing Sapore di Mare, a romantic comedy set in the summer of 1983. The film prompted producer Aurelio De Laurentiis to commission a similar work set around Christmas time in a ski resort.

It can be argued that the ancestor of the genre of cinepanettoni is in fact Vacanze di Natale, released on Christmas Day in 1983 and directed by Carlo and Enrico Vanzina.

The aura built around the cinepanettoni is made of lightness, which serves as a break between work and the transition to vacation. The model created by the directors of Vanzina with producer De Laurentiis, consisted of one cinepanettone per year, which allowed the movement to explore various places around the world.

In fact, each film takes place in a different location, often promoting tourism for the chosen location. However, the genre of cinepanettoni is a purely commercial phenomenon with no artistic pretension and no desire to innovate, as gags are often recycled and situations are repeatedly more embarrassing over the years, appealing to a very low average cultural level. .

In fact, cinepanettoni’s comedy focuses on a parody of the stereotypical view of the average Italian and exaggerates common family drama situations. The Cinepanettoni are mainly recognized and characterized by the actor duo featured in the films, as the huge success of Vacanze di Natale ’90 marked the beginning of a dynamic partnership between Christian DeSica and Massimo Boldi.

Main and most famous actors of Cinepanettone

For example, in most cinepanettoni, actor Christian DeSica poses as a heritage hunter who tries to make ends meet by trying to marry very wealthy women but is partly hampered by the presence of a lover and social incompetence of his co-star., mainly played by actor Massimo Boldi.

The common plot of this genre is filled with betrayals, money theft, family issues, and drama between friends. Cinepanettoni are therefore a genre that brings people together for the Christmas period, but at the same time highlights and underlines a society that struggles to stay in peace and united, too busy arguing and competing.

In 2006, the actors De Sica and Boldi separated pursuing solo careers, which resulted in the formation of two styles of cinepanettoni, ultimately saturating the film industry. In fact, the genre was proclaimed extinct by many for years until 2020, when the duo returned in a film called Vacanze Su Marte. The final Christmas film with the historic duo received low ratings as it was seen as a nostalgic attempt to revamp the genre since the 1980s, in a society in which comedy has reached higher quality standards and evolved into be smarter and more innovative. .

The genre of cinepanettoni marked an important period in Italian cinema and culture. His peculiar but repetitive sense of humor often reassures audiences by presenting them with common and familiar storylines that are parodies of the stereotypical Italian lifestyle.


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