Before the emergence of the Coens, the Farrellys, the Hugheses and the Wachowskis, there were the Taviani brothers, Paolo and Vittorio, born in Pisa in respectively 1931 and 1929, the sons of a lawyer jailed for his anti-fascist activities. Coming out of Italian neorealism and the French new wave, adapting works by Tolstoy and Pirandello and much influenced by Brecht, they emerged in the late 60s. Theirs was a humanist cinema that reached out socially and chronologically, from an aristocrat disillusioned with revolution in early 19th-century Lombardy to the idealistic inhabitants of a Tuscan village standing up against the Nazis in 1944.
The Tavianis' finest film perhaps is Padre Padrone, the true story of a boy escaping from hard-scrabble peasant life in present-day Sardinia to be educated during his military service on the mainland. The