Public Life, Imaginary, and Identity in Contemporary Italian Film
Edited By Giancarlo Lombardi and Christian Uva
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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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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