Filmmaker Gualtiero Jacopetti, died August 17th at the age of 91. He’s best known as one of the documentary filmmakers capturing the weird, wonderful and brutal customs and traditions of people around the world.
His best known release was his first. Mondo Cane (A Dog’s Life) shocked audiences expecting a glossed-over National Geographic-type moviegoing experience, thus helping to coin the word “shockumentary” to describe these types of films. Animal sacrifices, sexual teasing and perversions, weird religious rituals, self-mutilations and more were grist for the mill as Jacopetti and others laid it on pretty thick for unprepared audiences.
Mondo Cane was so successful when released in 1962, it garnered an Oscar nomination for its hit instrumental theme song “More.” No less than fifty mondo films plastered screens for the rest of the decade. Jacopetti directed follow ups Mondo Pazzo (aka: Mondo Cane 2) and Women of the World, as well as the brutal exploitation film Goodbye Uncle Tom. His written commentaries were clear: for all the technical progress Western man claims, he’s not any less savage.
Mondo films lost steam by the early 70’s, but its influence lives on with Faces of Death, Traces of Death and all the films/videos those series inspired ever since.