Show Less
Restricted access

New Visions of the Child in Italian Cinema


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.
Show Summary Details
Restricted access

Pas de Deux: The ‘Situational Ballet’ of Film Fathers-and-Sons



This chapter offers what might be called a functionalist or formalist approach to children on film. It takes as axiomatic that children on film are not (only) there to tell us about the experience and psychology of childhood,1 nor even (only) about the sociology of childhood, or of the family, gender and parenting dynamics played out on screen around them. It assumes and argues instead that children on film are always (also) at work as formal functions of film language and film narrative, if nothing else as conspicuous elements of the mise en scène, and that the mask of affect that they characteristically bring with them is often a decoy for these other, formal functions and paths to meaning. The chapter looks at one surprisingly prevalent, recurrent topos or syntagma, one of the many possible articulations of the child in film language: that is, the spatial configuration on screen of father-and-son couples.2 It starts with Ladri di biciclette [Bicycle Thieves] (1948), referring sporadically to other instances from Italian film history; but its central interests lie less in national cinemas (and the shaky idea of nationally specific imaginaries ← 81 | 82 → of childhood) and more in transversal functions for the figure of the child in film narrative in general. It sets alongside Ladri a series of three mainstream American movies spread widely over a period stretching from the 1920s to the 2000s, each of which taps into something of the same formal and spatial energies...

You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.

This site requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals.

Do you have any questions? Contact us.

Or login to access all content.