This course will focus on the way Italian cinema related to the dimension of the sacred. The word “sacer” in Latin means both "sacred" and "accursed, defiled": thus, the experience of the sacred encompasses both sanctity and religion as well as abjection, excess, defilement and violence. From The Gospel According to St. Matthew to Salò, we will follow the trajectory of these double aspects of the sacred in Italian cinema, exploring a range of directors (from Rossellini to Pasolini, from Visconti to Fellini), and genres (from religious films to spaghetti western) through the lens of the different visions of the sacred of thinkers such as Eliade, Caillois, Bataille, Girard and others. The course will be conducted in English. Films will be in Italian with English subtitles. Italian majors may arrange to do readings and final paper in Italian.