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Celebrated Italian director Vittorio Taviani dies

One half of the Taviani brothers, and one of the most respected names in Italian cinema.

Vittorio Taviani, one half of the Taviani brothers, has died at the age of 88. The Taviani brothers are among Italy’s most well-known directors, with such acclaimed credits as Padre Padrone, La Notte di San Lorenza, Caesar Must Die and Wondrous Boccaccio.

The brothers kicked off their partnership in 1962 with Un Uomo Da Bruciare, which they directed along with Valentino Orsini. In 1967, they made their first film as a pair, I Sovversivi. The collaboration consisted of the brothers directing alternate scenes. Paolo is younger than Vittorio by two years.

Padre Padrone, made in 1977 and tracing the journey of a shepherd who becomes a linguist, won the Taviani brothers the Palme d’Or, the highest honour at the Cannes Film Festival.

Kaos (1984), one of several literary adaptations by the brothers, was appreciated for its poetic narrative style. Caesar Must Die, in which a group of prison inmates rehearse for a production of Julius Caesar, bagged the brothers the Golden Bear award at the Berlin Film Festival in 2012. The 2017 title, Una Questione Privata, was directed by Paolo Taviani.

Caesar Must Die (2012).

The brothers were described in a Guardian interview in 2013 as “among the last titans of classic Italian cinema”. The interview revealed their working method: “Labour is divided equally on set, with each brother taking the reins on alternate camera setups. Should there be an odd number of them in a day, they will toss a coin.”

The Tavianis were fascinated with other such sibling collaborations in cinema. “A few years ago, we met the Coen brothers,” Vittorio Taviani told Guardian. “We asked them: ‘How do you work together?’ They replied: ‘No, you started this whole thing – you tell us.’ But then the four of us agreed that it must remain a mystery.”

Vittorio (left) and Paolo Taviani. Image credit: Georges Biard, CC BY-SA 3.0
Vittorio (left) and Paolo Taviani. Image credit: Georges Biard, CC BY-SA 3.0
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