Carosello Part I: La Linea

Animation / Foreign Exchange

Above: the opening Carosello logo from its Wikipedia page courtesy of RAI

“Guardi Carosello e vai a letto!” (You can watch Carosello and then it’s bedtime!) The famous phrase (or some version of it) Italian children heard for as long as Carosello was broadcasted on the RAI (Italy’s state television channel). My husband often shows me clips of this staple from his childhood in Italy. What I can gather about Carosello was that it was on TV from the late 50s through the late 70s, it was totally awesome, AND it was really just a bunch of commercials! In fact, it was somewhat of a “commercial break.” It followed the news which was generally at 8:00pm, which means it probably started around 8:45pm and lasted about ten minutes (I’m working off his memory, but also it was on for so many years that things changed too). And although it was just commercials, the content was often so creative and original itself everyone looked forward to it. It even had it’s own opening theme song. Here’s a compilation of the openers from over the years.

The commercials that constituted Carosello were not just animation, some were like mini TV shows with a cast and an ongoing story; often featuring top quality artists, directors and actors.Though from the ones I’ve seen, I tend to appreciate most the animation. My understanding is that in general these pieces had nothing to do with the actual product, but at the end of the short cartoon or story line, there would be a quick mention of the product. Since there are over 20 years of these amazing commercial cartoons, I plan to share them with you in installments.

Today’s focus is “La Linea” (the line) by artist Osvaldo Cavandoli (he also signed his work as Cava). La Linea was originally introduced as a commercial for La Lagostina pans in the 70s.  And later became its own series of sorts. Mr. Cavandoli’s La Linea is the ultimate exercise in creativity, taking something so simple, a white line on a solid background, and turning it into endless hilarious stories. The main character is a passionate guy often berating and pleading with the hand that creates him. He also loves to laugh often going into hysterics. Pingu fans may recognize La Linea’s voice: Carlo Bonomi. Mr. Bonomi is a genius at making word-like-sounds without saying actual words in any particular language but somehow expressing everything! There are 90 episodes in all. The first video above is a commercial of La Linea for Lagostina from Carosello. Below are a few favorites from the La Linea series:

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