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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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Ragazzo Fortunato? Children in Italian Cinema



Films where a child character occupies a central place in the narrative have provided one constant of Italian cinema from neorealism to the present. This article discusses three films of the nineties, Il ladro di bambini [The Stolen Children] (Amelio, 1992) Caro diario [Dear Diary] (Moretti, 1994) and Aprile (Moretti, 1998), which make children a central focus, but it first describes some aspects of childhood as part of the recent history of the West, and offers a brief elaboration of the context in which assumptions about the suitability of a child protagonist find their resonance.

In Italy, a notable concern with children was evident in the fascist regime’s pronatalist emphases, and in a rhetoric of reproduction that has formed a significant part of Catholic beliefs and teachings. Postwar policy debates and the competing claims of political parties to speak on behalf of the interests of the family and the interests of children further contributed to widening concern.1 These emphases were often incorporated into older accounts and more longstanding traditions within Italian culture that seemed to prioritize the centrality and importance of children. This produced a situation of reinforcement and consolidation between past and present that continued to shape contemporary preoccupations. The religious tradition has been particularly significant since it was widely disseminated through an iconography that played upon a fantasy of plenitude between mother and child that omitted sex and sexuality while presenting ← 59 | 60 → a commonality of the sexes in relation to desire...

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