Boss in sala. Cultural Legitimacy and Italian Mafia Films
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This article identifies a recent trend of critically acclaimed, accessible mafia narratives, and offers a possible interpretation of the films as belonging to the quality sector. Following a discussion of ‘quality’ in the Italian industry, the article first provides a historic overview of Italian mafia films in order to contextualize the recent shift in tone and form. The second section then offers an analysis of the production, distribution and performance of ten mafia films released between 2004 and 2016 in relation to Mary Wood’s definition of quality filmmaking. By employing a methodology that moves from cultural history to production studies, the article reveals the continued relevance and (often institutional) legitimation of mafia narratives, therefore raising further questions about the specificity of the Italian quality sector, its boundaries, and its problematic relationship with popular film.
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