Italy, a cultural superpower

Updated 02 June 2012
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Italy, a cultural superpower

The Canadian-American economist John Kenneth Galbraith, to explain the miracle of post war Italian reconstruction, claimed that “the real reason is that Italy has incorporated in its products an essential component of culture, and cities such as Milan, Parma, Florence, Siena, Venice, Rome, Naples and Palermo, while having very poor infrastructure, display in their standard of living a huge amount of beauty”.
This is the source from where the creativity of our production system, based on beauty and harmony, originates. Italian design and the greater part of what is considered beautiful in the world identify with Italian products.
There are certainly other, more ancient civilizations, but surely, no other has steadily produced as much as Italy throughout the centuries. And even in periods of decadence, there were no interruptions in the creative process in all fields; from the visual arts to architecture, engineering, music, literature, cinema, philosophy, law, the political and social sciences, the exact sciences, in contexts that have spread out throughout the world absorbing contributions from other civilizations.
The Etruscan roots, Greek-Roman and Judeo- Christian, the contribution of Islam, the immensity of the Renaissance, have all taken from the world, then elaborated, enriched and returned to the world the highest in knowledge and creation. This ability is typical of the greatest civilizations, although none have done so with such intensity as our peninsula.
Italy is the country that counts the highest number of UNESCO cultural and natural sites (47 in a world list of 936). From the North to the South, all sites - well beyond those surveyed by UNESCO - testify this magnitude. A tremendous responsibility: a great heritage to be preserved. This great historical and artistic heritage makes Italy the first in the world despite its rather limited size - about 60 million people who reside in an area of just 300 thousand square km .
But if culture is well rooted in our past, it is also a pillar of the present, of progress and sustainability. The cultural industry is a significant part of the production of wealth and employment in Italy :
4.9% of GDP ,1,400,000 employees, 400,000 businesses involved. The Italian film production industry is the third in the world. In the last ten years as much as 1207 films have been put on the market. Book industry is also a strong asset: Italy counts a very high number of publishing companies (7,590 in 2010); the De Agostini Group is ranking 10th in the world for sales. Turin, with the “Salone Internazionale del Libro”, hosts the second largest book fair in Europe, the first one since 2006 for the number of visitors.
Not to mention the indirect but powerful (not easily measurable) effect of culture on the promotion in the world of Italy as a top tourist destination. Italy’s heritage draws more than 45 million visitors every year, making tourism our primary industry, accounting for 8.6% of GDP and makes Italy a brand of quality and beauty.
Besides, Italy has been supporting
archaeological, anthropological and ethnological missions abroad for many years. These missions are not only scientific, but are also a valuable tool for training of local operators and provide technology transfer in some sectors, such as archaeology, restoration and protection of cultural heritage, in which Italy has an internationally recognized level of excellence. This activity also represents a commitment to actively contribute to intercultural dialogue and development policies in many countries, even remote areas, where missions are sometimes the only Italian cultural presence.
Italy is second only to China in the export of design products, for a global value of $ 24,802 millions. It is also second (to Germany) for the number of registered patents (2003-2009).


Pint-sized heroes score big in Marvel’s latest flick

This image released by Marvel Studios shows a scene from "Ant-Man and the Wasp." (Disney/Marvel Studios via AP)
Updated 16 July 2018
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Pint-sized heroes score big in Marvel’s latest flick

  • Characters who fly off the pages of comic books and onto the silver screen are often exciting and Ant-Man and the Wasp are no different
  • What is really memorable about this film is the emotional high

CHENNAI: Characters who fly off the pages of comic books and onto the silver screen are often dynamic and exciting, and Ant-Man and the Wasp are no different. The characters of Scott Lang and Hope van Dyne (Ant-Man and the Wasp, respectively) go on an epic adventure in the 20th release in Disney’s Marvel Cinematic Universe series of comic book movies, and the first to feature a woman in the title.

Directed by Peyton Reed, Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) and the Wasp (Evangeline Lilly) star in a gleeful movie that, for two hours, takes viewers into the realm of sheer fantastical fantasy. There is a lot of fun here and the special effects dexterously push the pulse-pounding plot as buildings shrink into miniature form and vehicles go from minuscule to massive in the blink of an eye.

It’s the second movie in the series and this time, Scott Lang languishes under house arrest in San Francisco after being caught as his shrinkable superhero alter-ego fighting some of the other Avengers in “Civil War.” He dotes on his young daughter Cassie (Abby Ruder Forston) and the pair make the most of their time together at home, but his world is turned upside down when he’s confronted by Hope Van Dyne and her father, the brilliant quantum physicist Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), with an urgent new mission.

His wife, Janet van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer), has been stuck in the quantum realm for 30 years and it’s time to save her from being lost forever.

What is really memorable about this film is the emotional high — the tender relationship between Lang and his daughter, the stirrings of love between him and Hope and Hank’s unwavering feelings for his long-missing wife. These play out as strongly as the electrifying car chases, the fantastic fights and the terrific transmogrification of just about everything.
Besides the gigantic helping of humor — most of which comes courtesy of a hilarious Michael Peña — the film is made by a wistful Pfeiffer, a grumbling Douglas and a hilarious Rudd, who all add that touch of magic humanism.