© Thomas Hoepker, 1956, Cinema on the outskirts of Naples / Italy
“Cinema is the most beautiful fraud in the world.” (Jean-Luc Godard)
(left) Dov’è la libertà…? (by Roberto Rossellini, Italy, 1954; with the legendary Totò)
(right) Vortice (by Raffaello Matarazzo, Italy, 1955)
© Unknown photographer, undated, Portrait of Totò
Prince Antonio Focas Flavio Angelo Ducas Comneno De Curtis di Bisanzio Gagliardi, best known by his stage name Totò and nicknamed il principe della risata (“the prince of laughter”) was an Italian comedian, film and theatre actor, writer, singer and songwriter.
He is widely considered one of the greatest Italian artists of the 20th century. While he first gained his popularity as a comic actor, his dramatic roles, his poetry, and his songs are all deemed to be outstanding; his style and a number of his recurring jokes have become universally known memes in Italy.
Writer and philosopher Umberto Eco has thus commented on the importance of Totò in Italian culture:
"In this globalized universe where it seems that everyone’s watching the same movies and eating the same food, there are still abysmal and overwhelming fractures separating one culture from another. How can two peoples, one of which unknowing of Totò, truly understand each other?"
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