Paolo Cavara  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Paolo Cavara has been a screenwriter and a movie director. He was born in Bologna(Italy)in 1926.


During the Fifties, he studied architecture in Florence University, then he realized documentaries for scientific trips, and emerged as a pioneer of the underwater cinematography (one of these shipments is the important 1951 voyage to Ceylon along with Franco Prosperi documented by local news, that anticipated Folco Quilici’s Sixth Continent experience). Then Cavara worked for a series of Italian National TV films led by Giorgio Moser. But he worked as assistant director too (Timbuctu and Naked Maya, a 1958 great production by Henry Koster).

In 1962 Cavara and Prosperi conceived and directed with Gualtiero Jacopetti first shockumentary of the history: Mondo Cane. Cavara travelled in every part of the world, from Africa to Asia, Europe to Japan, putting his life continuing in dangerous. At last he met again Jacopetti in Las Vegas, and together suffered for an automobile accident where Belinda Lee forgot her life. The film landed to Cannes' Festival.

Following success Jacopetti tried unjustly to appropriate all merits exposin’ ridiculously himself to mediatic reflectors. He edited that film but he didn’t realize it. He was imprisoned in Hong Kong when co-authors were at work, and months later he come back on set when film was quite concluded.

Next year La donna nel mondo (Women of the world) was edited with inferior materials of that film. Mondo Cane launched Cavara as author and director. From that moment he doesn’t stop making films, nevertheless that experience leaved a sign for future projects. Havin’ left his associates he directed the forewarding Malamondo, an “antimondo” on European youth, and in 1967 Wild Eye (with Alberto Moravia and Tonino Guerra screentwriters added), a definitively breakaway of the genre conducted with spectacular ability that anticipated reflections on cinema making cinema with ambiguous and conscious perspective. Wild eye won Atlanta Festival and landed in Moscow where received thirty five minutes of applauses.

He did continue with charming, inverted war genre formula's drama The Ravine and David McCallum as protagonist (a promise of ’69 Venice Festival), and in ‘71 Black belly of the tarantula, a cult thriller with a big cast, balanced between documentaries scenes and a human and amazing inspector Giancarlo Giannini.

Following along many others good European successes (comedies, western, TV movie…). A remarkable example is Plot of fear (his second thriller) with Michele Placido and Eli Wallach, where Cavara exposed in a new and radical shape traditional elements of gothic, police film, and Italian giallo.

Not identified as a conventional director Cavara searched attention, in his not long professional career, on controversial subjects and film characters doing follow his great skilful sensibility for visual contrasts.

He died in Rome in 1982.

Filmography (excerpt)

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