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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 Uses of Children

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’, which I’ve chosen because it allows me to range over a variety of issues. My aim is to consider the figure of the child as a site of struggle between the globalizing tendencies of the mass media businesses, and the localizing impetus of the institutions of the Italian film industry and the Italian state and, in this particular area, of the European Union. The struggle is over meanings and social values and I will suggest three related areas to explore. My first concern will be the critically ignored industry of films for children – a parallel universe (much like the porno film industry) with its own production, distribution and exhibition opportunities, its own system of film festivals, prizes and merchandising opportunities. Second, as cinema is just one branch of contemporary media which forms the child, I will consider what the Italian film industry does to ensure that what Italian children see on the screen speaks with an Italian voice. Third, there is the larger category of films about children, with child protagonists. My focus will be on younger children, rather than films featuring mid- to late-teenage protagonists discussed elsewhere in this book, and aimed at the teen market. These three spheres provoke many questions and if, as Marina Warner suggests, a fundamental one is how a film uses the child ‘to take us on a journey of discovery’ and the level of knowledge that child characters have or acquire in the course of their quest,1 I would add the...

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