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Exhibition Opening: Tragedy of a Ridiculous Man: Ugo Tognazzi and Comedy Italian Style



Exhibition Opening: Tragedy of a Ridiculous Man: Ugo Tognazzi and Comedy Italian Style

Proudly presented by The Italian Cultural Institute, Co.As.It. Melbourne, the Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia – Cineteca Nazionale, Deakin University, and the University of Pavia.

Date: 27 April 2023 6:30-8:00pm

Location: COASIT, 199 Faraday Street, Carlton, VIC

Free event, registration necessary

Light refreshments offered.

The exhibition will be on display at COASIT 28 April 2023 - 30 June 2023

Tuesday to Friday 10am-5pm, Saturday 1pm-5pm.


Tragedy of a Ridiculous Man. Ugo Tognazzi and Comedy Italian Style

This film retrospective and exhibition celebrates the 100th (and one) birthday of Ugo Tognazzi, the famous protagonist of Italian Cinema. As one of the most original Italian actors, Tognazzi anticipated themes and characters that still resonate with us today. He was renowned for the ability to express a mixture of tones and registers across a range of roles – from the comic, to the grotesque, as well as the tragic – without betraying his popular origins. For Marco Ferreri, who directed him in some of his most important and provocative films, Tognazzi was ideal. As Ferreri explained, the “man and character came first, and only then, the actor.”

The Tragedy of a Ridiculous Man retrospective includes the screening of three films that have been recently restored by the Cineteca Nazionale. These works represent milestones in Tognazzi’s career. The Fascist (Il federale, Luciano Salce, 1961), which features Tognazzi in the title role of a stubborn fascist militia soldier, launched his critical renown. Crazy Desire (La voglia matta, Luciano Salce, 1962) reveals Tognazzi’s talents as a middle-aged man who attempts to seduce a young Catherine Spaak in a work that explores the chasm of generational difference. Finally, The Terrace (La terrazza, Ettore Scola, 1980), is a melancholic, ensemble movie that reflects on a season of Italian cinema and society that is over.

At the same time that the retrospective showcases Tognazzi’s theatrical virtuosity, the exhibition traces the actor’s career through a range of original materials (including posters and memorabilia). We pass from the 1950s – when Tognazzi gave life to numerous comic roles – to the 1960s and 1970s, when, under the direction of masters such as Dino Risi, Marco Ferreri, Antonio Pietrangeli and others, Tognazzi created some of his most celebrated performances. During this latter period, cycles of highly successful popular comedies alternated with more dramatic films. Bernardo Bertolucci’s 1981 film Tragedy of a Ridiculous Man (La tragedia di un uomo ridicolo), which won Tognazzi the Palme d’or for Best Actor at the Cannes Film Festival, marked the peak of this long and intense cinematic career.

Through his characters, Tognazzi nurtured the many faces of comedy. This included the ‘Italian style comedy’, which was one in which an entire country is reflected, albeit through a critical, caricatured, and even tragicomic filter. With the nonchalance of someone who has never taken himself too seriously, Tognazzi replied to those who asked him what success meant with the comment: “I don’t know, those who have never had it know. You don’t realize it in time. It is so quick”.

This film retrospective and exhibition is the result of a collaboration between the Italian Cultural Institute, COASIT, the Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia – Cineteca Nazionale, Deakin University, and the University of Pavia, where the Tognazzi Archive is based (in collaboration with the Cremona City Council).




About the Curators

Elena Mosconi is Associate Professor of Film History at the University of Pavia, Italy. Founder of the Tognazzi Archive (Cremona, 2015), she has curated and convened internationally significant exhibitions and conferences. She is also chair of the Italian Association for Film History Research (AIRSC), and an active member of NECS (European Network for Cinema and Media Studies) and WSS (Women and Silent Screen). Her recent books include Un cinema ‘domestico’. Cattolici e forme di organizzazione culturale in Italia 1945-1970 (EDUCatt, 2018) and the co-edited volume Italian pop. Popular music e media negli anni Cinquanta e Sessanta (Mimesis, 2021).

Victoria Duckett is Associate Professor of Film and Deputy Director of the Deakin Motion Lab. She is an internationally recognised scholar, researcher, and teacher with over 30 years experience in renowned universities worldwide (including the Università Cattolica, Milan, and a prize-winning PhD completed under the guidance of Italian microhistorian, Carlo Ginzburg, UCLA). Chief Investigator of the bilingual Omeka archive, Guglielmo Giannini: An archive of theatre, film and political activism, her most recent monograph is due for Open Access release in June 2023 by the University of California Press.

Mostra Tognazzi


Date: Da Friday, April 28, 2023 a Friday, June 30, 2023

Time: From 10:00 am To 5:00 pm

Organized by : IIC Melbourne

In collaboration with : Co.As.It Melbourne, Deakin University, UniersitĂ  d

Entrance : Free


Co.As.It. Melbourne - 189-199 Faraday Street, Carl