Translating and adapting cinema across borders: American remakes of Italian films in the twenty-first century


Study of global cinematic production shows that filmmakers constantly draw on stories from other cultural and historical traditions, and almost all films are a product of intertextuality: they are all derivative works in some sense. In this article, I focus on a specific kind of cinematic adaptation: remakes. I consider three American remakes of Italian films of the twenty-first century: Tony Goldwyn’s The Last Kiss (2006) from Gabriele Muccino’s L’ultimo bacio (The Last Kiss) (2001); Kirk Jones’ Everybody’s Fine (2009) from Giuseppe Tornatore’s Stanno tutti bene (Everybody’s Fine) (1990); and Rob Marshall’s Nine (2009) from Federico Fellini’s 81/2 (8 1/2) (1963) via Yeston’s stage production Nine (1982). My article illustrates how ‘the foreign’ (Italian cinema) is appropriated and domesticated, to some extent, in American cinema as a means to respond to a cultural crisis about masculinity and male social roles within the status quo. Italian source texts help expand the narrow American definition of male identity and enrich the well-established cinematic subgenre of male melodrama.

Publication Title

Journal of Italian Cinema and Media Studies