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New Visions of the Child in Italian Cinema


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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Boys as Icons of Movement, Potential and Desire in Contemporary Melodramas of Boyhood



This chapter will seek to explore melodramas of boyhood in contemporary Italian cinema, looking in particular at the use of fantasy to reconfigure social roles in the wake of the breakdown of established family structures or as a method to endure domestic conflict. I am interested in the transformation of the child’s gaze and how young male characters serve not only as witnesses to trauma but also how, through their capacity for play and fairy tale fantasies, they participate and become active agents in the adult world. I look at the representation of boys as icons of movement, potential and desire in three male melodramas of boyhood: Kim Rossi Stuart’s 2006 Anche libero va bene [Libero (Along the Ridge)], Antonio Capuano’s 2005 La guerra di Mario [Mario’s War] and Gabriele Salvatore’s 2003 Io non ho paura [I’m Not Scared].

My analysis is sustained by a formal reading of the films, underpinned by a brief exploration of pertinent philosophical and psychoanalytical reflections on childhood. The key theme linking the films is boyhood anxiety, which appears to be directly linked to the ongoing unravelling, disintegration and reforming of family structures. While there have been dramatic changes to such structures throughout the West, in Italy the phenomenon has been linked in particular to an erosion of Christian values and the dwindling influence of the Catholic Church.1 Boyhood anxiety in contemporary Italian film appears in part to express the challenge presented to male characters by changes to traditional...

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