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In Italy, the Neorealist school had long since evaporated. Vittorio De Sica acted in and/or directed a long series of conventional romantic comedies simply to keep working, although he did complete one final masterpiece, Il Giardino dei Finzi-Contini (The Garden of the Finzi-Continis), in 1971. However, Roberto Rossellini, ever adaptable, reinvented himself completely with a string of remarkable television movies for RAI, Italian television, beginning with the historical drama La Prise de pouvoir par Louis XIV (The Rise of Louis XIV, 1966), a French-Italian co-production, and continuing with many similar films, including Atti degli apostoli (The Acts of the Apostles, 1969), Socrate (Socrates, 1970), Blaise Pascal (1971), and II Messia (The Messiah, 1976). What makes these movies remarkable is their vibrant use of color, their long and complex tracking shots, often lasting as long as ten minutes, and the painstaking degree of historical accuracy that the director insisted upon in their creation.

Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne began making short video documentaries together in the 1970s, and then shot their first fiction film in 1987, Falsch (False), in which the ghosts of a Jewish family, reunited after World War II in a deserted airport, are forced to deal with their past. The work is atypical for the Dardenne brothers in that it is highly stylized, with vibrant colors and theatrical staging, and while it is an excellent film, it does not really anticipate their later work. Their second film, Je pense à vous (You’re on My Mind, 1992), is also a surprise, in its narrative of a factory worker photographed with conventional cinematic imagery, using crane shots, a sweeping music track, and rather contrived performances.

In the years since the New German Cinema first exploded, a number of talented directors have appeared on the scene, such as Tom Tykwer, whose Lola rennt (Run Lola Run, 1998) is a race-against-time thriller in which Lola  (Franka Potente) must save her boyfriend from assassination by drug dealers. Deftly mixing animation, live action, digital special effects, and a lively rock score, Run Lola Run is notable for telling its story with three different scenarios. Doris Dörrie is best known for her feminist comedy Männer . . . (Men …, 1985); her earlier films, such as Im Innern des Wals (In the Belly of the Whale, 1985), represented a strong feminist vision within a more serious context. In the Belly of the Whale opens with the violent beating of teenager Carla (Janna Marangosoff) by her policeman father, Erwin (Peter Sattmann), who alternates between brutalizing her and buying her expensive presents to compensate.

Wim Wenders’s early films include the allegorical murder drama Die Angst des Tormanns beim Elfmeter (The Goalie’s Anxiety at the Penalty Kick, 1972) and the equally cerebral Alice in den Städten (Alice in the Cities, 1974), about an epic case of writer’s block. He later collaborated with Nicholas Ray on Lightning Over Water (1980) before coming to America to direct Hammett (begun in 1980, completed in 1982) for Francis Ford Coppola’s Zoetrope Studios; Coppola eventually took over production and reshot part of it, which ultimately satisfied no one. Wenders’s next American film, however, Paris, Texas (1984), was a commercial and critical hit, after which Wenders returned to Germany for the triumphal Der Himmel über Berlin (Wings of Desire, 1987), in which a group of angels look after the destiny of a man in postwar Berlin.

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The 1960s also saw the final films of many of the classical Hollywood directors who had worked in the industry since its infancy. Alfred Hitchcock’s last films were among his best, including the European-influenced horror picture The Birds (1963), in which large groups of birds attack a small California town without explanation, and Marnie (1964), a psychological study of a kleptomaniac that was unjustly dismissed when first released. Torn Curtain (1966) and Topaz (1969), both political thrillers, were perhaps less successful, but Hitchcock returned to form with the murder mystery Frenzy (1972), shot on location in England, before ending his career with the gently comic caper Family Plot (1976).