Paolo Cavara

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Paolo Cavara
Born (1926-07-04)4 July 1926
Bologna, Italy
Died 7 August 1982(1982-08-07) (aged 56)
Rome, Italy
Occupation Screenwriter
Film director
Years active 1962-1982

Paolo Cavara (4 July 1926 – 7 August 1982) was an Italian screenwriter and a film director. He is known to horror film fans for directing the 1971 giallo The Black Belly of the Tarantula and his 1962 cult classic Mondo Cane.


During the 1950s, he studied architecture in Florence University, then he produced 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 production by Henry Koster).

In 1962 Cavara conceived with Gualtiero Jacopetti and directed in its own first shockumentary of the history: Mondo Cane, while Prosperi was credited only for second direction. Cavara traveled to every part of the world, from Africa to Asia, Europe to Japan, putting his life continually in danger. At last he met again Jacopetti in Las Vegas, and together suffered for an automobile accident where Belinda Lee lost her life. The film was presented in Cannes Festival.

Following success Jacopetti tried unjustly to appropriate all merits exposing himself ridiculously to mediatic reflectors. He edited that film but he didn’t realize it. He was imprisoned in Hong Kong when co-directors were at work, stayed in Italy after american incident and months later he came back on set when film was at the end.

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 left a sign for future projects. Havin’ left his associates he directed the forewarding Malamondo, an “antimondo” on European youth, and in 1967 The 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 was entered into the 5th Moscow International Film Festival.[1]

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…), Cavera carried on. 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.

Selected filmography[edit]

Selected bibliography[edit]

  • Pietro Cavara, Ricordo di un padre: Paolo Cavara, regista gentiluomo. Aracne ed. 2014; Cinemasessanta 2002 (I,II,III,IV)
  • Fabrizio Fogliato, Paolo Cavara: Gli occhi che raccontano il mondo. - Il Foglio letterario 2014


  1. ^ "5th Moscow International Film Festival (1967)". MIFF. Retrieved 2012-12-09. 

External links[edit]