Both born in
Italy, the Taviani brothers began their careers as journalists. In 1960 they came to the world of
cinema, directing with
Joris Ivens the
L'Italia non è un paese povero (Italy is not a poor country). They went on to direct two films with
Un uomo da bruciare (1962) and
I fuorilegge del matrimonio (1963).
Their first autonomous film was
I sovversivi (The Subversives, 1967), with which they anticipated the events of 1968. With actor
Gian Maria Volontè they gained attention with
Sotto il segno dello scorpione (Under the Sign of Scorpio, (1969) where one can see the echoes of
In 1971 they co-signed the media campaign against Milan's police commissioner
Luigi Calabresi, published in the magazine
The revolutionary theme is present both in
San Michele aveva un gallo (1971), an adaptation of
Tolstoy's novel The Divine and the Human, a film greatly appreciated by critics, and in the film
Allonsanfan (1974), in which
Marcello Mastroianni has a role as an ex-revolutionary who has served a long term in prison and now views his idealistic youth in a much more realistic light, and nevertheless gets entangled in a new attempt in which he no longer believes.
Their next film Padre padrone (1977) (Palme d'Or at the
Cannes Film Festival), taken from a novel by
Gavino Ledda, speaks of the struggle of a Sardinian shepherd against the cruel rules of his patriarchal society. In
Il prato (1979) there are nonrealistic echoes, while
La notte di San Lorenzo (Saint Lorenzo's night) (1982) narrates, in a fairy-tale tone, a marginal event in the days before the end of World War II, in Tuscany, as seen through the eyes of some village people. The film was awarded the Special Jury Award in Cannes.
Kaos (1984)—another literary adaptation—is a poignantly beautiful and poetical film in episodes, taken from
Luigi Pirandello's Short Stories for a year. In
Il sole anche di notte (1990) the Taviani brothers transposed in 18th century Naples the story from Tolstoy's "
From then onwards, the Taviani's inspiration proved faltering. Successes like
Le affinità elettive, (1996, from
Goethe) and an attempt to woo the international audiences like
Good morning Babilonia, (1987), on the pioneers of cinema history, alternate with lesser films like
Fiorile (1993) and
Tu ridi (1996), inspired by the characters and short stories of
In the 2000s, the two brothers turned successfully to directing television films and miniseries. They gave a respectful adaptation of Tolstoy's
Resurrection (2001) and
Luisa Sanfelice (2004) a sort of romantic-popular ballad from a book by
Literary adaptations continue with
La masseria delle allodole (2007), presented at the
Berlin Film Festival in the section 'Berlinale Special'.
Caesar Must Die won the Golden Bear at the
62nd Berlin International Film Festival in February 2012.
 The film was also selected as the Italian entry for the
Best Foreign Language Oscar at the
85th Academy Awards, but it did not make the final shortlist.