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Italian Political Cinema

Public Life, Imaginary, and Identity in Contemporary Italian Film

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Edited By Giancarlo Lombardi and Christian Uva

Despite the powerful anti-political impulses that have pervaded Italian society in recent years, Italian cinema has sustained and renewed its longstanding engagement with questions of politics, both in the narrow definition of the term, and in a wider understanding that takes in reflections on public life, imaginary, and national identity. This book explores these political dimensions of contemporary Italian cinema by looking at three complementary strands: the thematics of contemporary political film from a variety of perspectives; the most prominent directors currently engaged in this filone; and case studies of the films that best represent this engagement. Conceived and edited by two Italian film scholars working in radically different academic settings, Italian Political Cinema brings together a wide array of critical positions and research from Italy, France, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Canada, and the United States. The tripartite structure and international perspective create a volume that is an accessible entry-point into a subject that continues to attract critical and cultural attention, both inside and outside of academia.
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Vito Zagarrio - The ‘Great Beauty’, or Form Is Politics

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Still capture from Il Caimano, by Nanni Moretti (Sacher Film, Bac Films, Stephan Films, France 3 Cinéma, Wild Bunch, Canal+, Cinécinéma)



 

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VITO ZAGARRIO

The ‘Great Beauty’, or Form Is Politics

In a recent volume dedicated to Film Studies,1 I had occasion to reflect on the theme of film and politics and the complex relationship between the two concepts, which need to be redefined, in light of the major changes of the new millennium. If the words ‘film’ and ‘cinema’ must be re-evaluated following the radical changes of the digital and in the cultural Imaginary, the term ‘political’ is also newly ambiguous. What does ‘the political’ mean in relation to the moving image? Are audiovisual productions ‘political’ only if they directly address social themes, or if they can be interpreted (from the subjective perspective of the individual critic) as political deeds or events that are capable of influencing politics and society?

If I were to take a stand today in the old debate between form and content, I would certainly side with form. Even in the new millennium, it is worth revisiting Gramsci’s observation that a work of art – if it truly is art – is always ‘revolutionary’.2 Here too we work with debatable categories: how does one define ‘art’, ‘true art’, or for that matter, ‘revolutionary’? Gramsci’s formula is susceptible to the easy simplifications of a superficial Crocean reading....

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