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New Visions of the Child in Italian Cinema

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Edited By Danielle Hipkins and Roger Pitt

The figure of the child has long been a mainstay of Italian cinema, conventionally interpreted as a witness of adult shortcomings, a vessel of innocence, hope and renewal, or an avatar of nostalgia for the (cinematic) past. New Visions of the Child in Italian Cinema challenges these settled categories of interpretation and reconsiders the Italian canon as it relates to the child. The book draws on a growing body of new work in the history and theory of children on film and is the first volume to bring together and to apply some of these new approaches to Italian cinema. Chapters in the book address aspects of industry and spectatorship and the varied film psychology of infancy, childhood and adolescence, as well as genres as diverse as silent cinema, contemporary teen movies, melodrama and film ethnography. The contributors engage with a wide range of modes and theories including neorealism, auteurism and contemporary postfeminism. The book maps out new roles for gender, the transnational, loss and mourning, and filmmaking itself, leading to a revised understanding of the child in Italian cinema.
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The Child in Italian Cinema: An Introduction

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If filmmakers seek new ways in which to imagine, to frame and to interpret our world, then the child, with all her connotations of perception without preconception, offers the ideal vehicle through which to seek out that renewed vision. As Vicky Lebeau has pointed out, cinema has had a special relationship with the child since its inception, because the cinematic apparatus can also offer the promise of getting closer to the child’s experience of discovery: ‘cinema, with its privileged access to the perceptual, its visual and aural richness, would seem to have the advantage [over words]: closer to perception, it can come closer to the child’.1 Lebeau is one of several critics who have recently turned their attention to the child in cinema, and in explaining its universal popularity as a trope, she reminds us that the child is something we all share: ‘Bordering on an otherness within, a space and time that we have all known without knowing it, this is a child that must be left behind – or, more dramatically, put to death – if we are to find our way into the worlds of language, culture and community, but that we must too, continually negotiate.’2 Hence, she explains, our cinematic obsession with revisiting the child’s discovery of the world, its growth, its rites of passage. Most recently in the UK, film critic and director, Mark Cousins, has produced a film essay which reflects upon this cinematic fascination with childhood. A Story of Children and Film (2013)...

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