Films, Documentaries, & Books

Craco Film Guide

Craco’s ancient construction and building style, typical of Southern Italian hill towns, has made it the scene for several movies trying to portray a very old village. Glimpses of the town at various times in its recent past can be seen in these films:

Craco Visits Through Time
Craco Visits Through Time (2009)
The Craco Society’s own project containing a 1989 PBS segment of “Travels: For the Colours, A Journey Through Italy”, featuring the San Vincenzo celebration in Craco hosted by Jeffrey Becom, as well as home video provided by Society members covering nearly seven decades of life in Craco. Running time: 61 minutes. It is available exclusively through the Society by contacting us at

La Lupa
La Lupa (1953)
This was filmmaker Alberto Lattuada’s first film after his classic The Overcoat. Based on a short story by Giovanni Verga, the film stars Kerima as the title character. Aptly named, La Lupa is a predatory female who considers every man she meets a potential conquest.

Christ Stopped at Eboli
Christ Stopped at Eboli (1979)
Award-winning Italian drama based on the autobiography of CarloLevi, a writer exiled to a small village in 1935 for his anti-fascist activities. There he learns much from the simple villagers, whose salt-of-the-earth character and noble values are quite new to him. Co-stars venerable screen star Irene Pappas.

King David
King David (1985)
In this adaptation of the epic Biblical story, the teenage David (Richard Gere) is chosen by Samuel (Dennis Quilley), who’s disgusted by what he perceives as weakness in Saul (Edward Woodward), who’s next in line to become king. In spite of his success against Goliath (George Eastman), David is pursued by a jealous Saul, whom he eventually vanquishes. But when he ascends to the throne, David discovers how difficult it is to rule the land.

Saving Grace
Saving Grace (1986)
Starring Tom Conti, this is an Italian comedy about a runaway, incognito Pope who makes his way to a village for a temporary stay and tries to bring a few good works to fruition while there. After Pope Leo XIV gets locked out of the Vatican garden one day, he opts for taking off on a small escape from official and bureaucratic burdens. Since he is not in his robes, who’s to know? He heads for a remote village in the south of Italy that has no priest. He finds shelter with a former hooker and her mute daughter and then sets to work overcoming the local thugs and repairing a broken aqueduct. Meanwhile, back at the Vatican, the Cardinals are trying to hide the fact that His Holiness has taken a powder.

Night Sun
Night Sun (1990)
Learning that his betrothed was once the king’s mistress, 18th century Italian nobleman Sergio (Julian Sands) renounces society and becomes a monk, vowing to lead a chaste and ascetic life. But his quest for solitude and spiritual clarity is disrupted by his growing reputation as a miracle worker - and by the efforts of a young temptress to seduce him. Brothers Paolo and Vittorio Taviani direct this period drama based on a Leo Tolstoy novel.

The Passion of the Christ
The Passion of the Christ (2004)
Oscar-winning actor-director Mel Gibson helms this controversial epic film that focuses on the last 12 hours of Jesus’s life - from the betrayal, trial and death of Jesus to his brutal Crucifixion and resurrection from the tomb. Starring Jim Caviezel as Jesus, Maia Morgenstern as Jesus’s mother and Monica Bellucci as Mary Magdalene, The Passion is spoken entirely in Latin and Aramaic, and the violent Crucifixion scenes are incredibly graphic.

The Big Question
The Big Question (2004)
Although it was shot on the set of director Mel Gibson’s controversial epic The Passion of the Christ, this thought-provoking documentary is not about the making of the movie. Rather, filmmakers Francesco Cabras and Alberto Molinari delve into the nature of divinity and spiritual beliefs through revealing interviews with Gibson and members of his cast and crew - including stars Jim Caviezel and Monica Bellucci.

The Nativity Story
The Nativity Story (2006)
Mary (Keisha Castle-Hughes) and Joseph (Oscar Isaac) make the hard journey to Bethlehem for a blessed event in this retelling of the Nativity story. From director Catherine Hardwicke, this meticulously researched and visually lush adaptation of the biblical tale follows the pair on their arduous path to their arrival in a small village, where they find shelter in a quiet manger and Jesus is born. Shohreh Aghdashloo co-stars.

Craco on Television

In 1991 a photographer, Jeffrey Becom was the subject of a Public Television documentary about his travels through Italy. The final segment in the show features Craco. The documentary is entitled, “Travels: For the Colours, A Journey Through Italy.” It is a production of Thirteen/WNET in association with Hawkshead Ltd.
Craco also served as a vignette in a television documentary called “The Colors of Italy” illustrating how modern perspectives of the town find it a charming backdrop to reflect ancient times.

On March 20,2008, the Italian television station RAI UNO aired a segment on their “Festa Italiana” program titled “L’Ultimo Pastore Di Craco” (The Last Shepard of Craco). By clicking on the RAI logo to the left you can view this video. It is a large file, so please be patient while it loads.

Craco in Magazines

National Geographic Italia
National Geographic Italia
The March 2008 edition of the magazine featured an article about Craco written by Gugliemo Greco with photographs by Francesco Schiavone. This five page article describes Craco Vecchio’s plight against nature and the hope for the future, because of the passion of its former residents and the film industry. By clicking on the magazine cover on the left, you can view the article complete with an English translation.

Books Citing Craco

Seasons in Basilicata
A Year in a Southern Italian Village by David Yeadon. Published by HarperCollins, 2004. Chapter entitled Craco - An Experience in Natural Magic, pages 243-253 and a sketch. This entertaining and well- written book chronicles an English couple’s life as they spend a year in Aliano, to live as Carlo Levi did in the 1930’s. Their education in the culture and their interaction with the local residents provide much insight to life in this little known, unexplored region.

Landslides - Risk Analysis and Sustainable Disaster Management.
Published by Springer Berlin Heidelberg, 2005. Chapter entitled Multi-Temporal and Quantitative Geomorphological Analysis on the Large Landslide of Craco Village, pages 113-117 by Delmonaco Giuseppe, Luca Falconi, Gabriele Leoni, Claudio Margottini, Claudio Puglisi, and Daniel Spizzichino.

The Italian Immigrant Experience

Passage To Liberty
Passage To Liberty
The Story of Italian Immigration and the Rebirth of America by Kenneth A. Ciongoli and Jay Parini. Published by Regan Books, 2002. Publisher comments: Passage to Liberty recaptures the drama of the 19th and 20th century immigration to America through photos, letters, and other artifacts - uniquely replicated in three-dimensional facsimile form; the text uses the stories of individuals and families - from early explorers, through the wave of 19th century impoverished families, to contemporary figures - to recapture the rich heritage the Italian people carried with them over the waves, and planted anew in the American soil.

Dances With Luigi
Dances With Luigi
A Grandson’s Search for His Italian Roots by Paul Paolicelli. Published by St. Martin Press, 2001. Publisher comments: In this spirited memoir, veteran TV journalist Paul Paolicelli does what many of us can only dream of - he picks up and moves to a foreign country in an attempt to trace his ancestral roots. With the help of Luigi, his guide and companion, he travels through Italy - Rome, Gamberale, Matera, Miglionico, Alessandria, even Mussolini’s hometown of Predappio - and discovers the tragic legacy of the Second World War that is still affecting the Old Country.More that just a spiritual account of one man’s ancestral search, Dances With Luigi is also a stunning portrait of la bella Italia - both old and new - that is painted beautifully in all of its glamour, history, and contradiction.

Under the Southern Sun
Under the Southern Sun
Stories of the Real Italy and the Americans it Created by Paul Paolicelli. Published by St. Martin Press, 2003. Publisher comments: Recently there has been a seemingly endless stream of books praising the glories of ancient and modern Rome, fretting over Venice’s rising tides and moldering galleries, celebrating the Tuscan countryside, wines and cuisine. But there have been curiously few writings that deal directly with Italy as the country of origin for the grand and great-grandparents of nearly twenty-six million Americans. The greatest majority - more than eight out of ten - of those American descendants of immigrant Italians aren’t the progeny of Venetian doges or Tuscan wealth, but are the diaspora of Southern Italians, people from a place very different than Renaissance Florence or the modern political entity of Rome. Southern Italians, mostly from villages and towns sprinkled about the dramatic and remote countryside of Italian provinces even now tourists find only with determination and rental cars.

Another Must Read Recommendation

Christ Stopped at Eboli
Christ Stopped at Eboli
The Story of a Year by Carlo Levi. Translated by Frances Frenaye. Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1974. Publisher comments: It was to Lucania, a desolate land in southern Italy, that Carlo Levi - a doctor, painter, philosopher, and man of letters was confined as a political prisoner because of his opposition to Italy’s Fascist government at the start of the Ethiopian war in 1935. While there, Levi reflected on the harsh landscape and its inhabitants, peasants who lived the same lives their ancestors had, constantly fearing black magic and the near presence of death. In so doing, Levi offered a starkly beautiful and moving account of a place and a people living outside the boundaries of progress and time.