Giorgio Bertellini


On his book Italy in Early American Cinema: Race, Landscape, and the Picturesque

Cover Interview of March 23, 2010

A close-up

If someone were to flip casually through the pages of the book, I would hope that they would appreciate, and be intrigued by, its variety of illustrations.

Of course I do not expect these images to convey per se the trajectory of my argument.  Yet, even when starting from the end—that’s how I flip through books, anyway—my hope is that the casual reader would formulate hypotheses about what could possibly link film frames from immigrant melodramas, Griffith’s Civil War film In The Border States (1910), and such travelogues as Picturesque Colorado (1910), with popular prints from Harper’s Weekly (1875) or the bestselling volumes of Picturesque America (1874), old photographs by Riis, Stieglitz, Watkins, Hine, von Gloeden, and Sommer, and even older paintings by Cole, Gilpin, Volaire, Rosa, and Lorrain. The picturesque view from a hilltop makes it a coveted guard post in Griffith’s In the Border States.  Biograph, 1910.  (Courtesy of the Library of Congress, Motion Picture, Broadcasting, and Recorded Sound Division.)

I would hope that the book’s front and back covers, not to mention its rich filmography, could similarly prompt the reader to want to read (or just flip through the pages) more.