Public Life, Imaginary, and Identity in Contemporary Italian Film
Edited By Giancarlo Lombardi and Christian Uva
Alan O’Leary - Political/Popular Cinema
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Still capture from La polizia ringrazia, by Stefano Vanzina (Primex Italiana, Dieter Geissler Filmproduktion)
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Popular culture is a site where the construction of everyday life may be examined. The point of doing this is not only academic – that is, as an attempt to understand a process or practice – it is also political, to examine the power relations that constitute this form of everyday life and thus reveal the configurations of interests its construction serves.
— GRAEME TURNER, British Cultural Studies, 20031
The political in cinema has variously been theorised as a question of legislation and economics (the circumstances and systems of production and exhibition), of legitimation and representation (who gets to ‘speak’ and for whom), of film form, and of content. Perhaps the last continues to preside in critical discussions of Italian cinema where there is a widespread understanding of politics as what is, or what was, or what should be ‘in the news’.2 Thus, a ‘political film’ might be concerned with the mafia, with the anti-democratic activities of Silvio Berlusconi, with the employment conditions of contract workers, with the plight of migrants to Italy, and so on. Such themes are of undoubted and often urgent importance; the problem lies in the fact that ‘politics’ in Italian cinema has typically been discussed in terms of film-makers’ engagement with issues that have been predefined as valuable or important,...
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