Public History, Private Memories: Historical Imagination in the New italian Cinema 1988-1999
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The concern with the following arguments started during a study of national and international cinemas, from the desire to account for a cinema that internationally was doing well, but was undervalued domestically. The aims were to account for the renewal of Italian filmmaking from 1988, the New Italian cinema, and understand the conditions behind this renewal. The thesis identifies in the historical theme and in the recurrence of features from Italian cinema history elements of coherence with previous cinema production. The first consideration that emerges is that a triangulation between a new generation of filmmakers, their audience and recent history shaped the recovery of Italian cinema from 1988. A second consideration is that no discussion of Italian cinema can be separated from a discussion of that which it represents: Italian society and politics. This representation has not only addressed questions of identity for a cohort of spectators, but on occasions has captured the attention of the international audience. Thus the thesis follows a methodologic approach that positions the texts in relation to certain traditions in Italian filmmaking and to the context by taking into consideration also industrial factors and social and historical changes. By drawing upon a range of disciplines, from political history to socio-psychological studies, the thesis has focussed on representation of history and memory in two periods of Italian film history: the first and the last decade of twentieth century. The concern has been not so much to interpret the films, but to understand the processes that made the films and how spectators have applied their knowledge structures to make meaning of the films. Thus the thesis abstains from ascribing implicit meanings to films, but acknowledges how films project cultural contingencies. This is because film is shaped by production conditions and cultural and historical circumstances that make the film intelligible. As Bordwell stated in Making Meaning, "One can do other things with films besides 'reading' them" (1989, p. xiii). Within this framework, the thesis proposes a project that understands history film within the norms that govern Italian filmic output, those norms that regulate conditions of production and consumption and the relation between films from various traditions.
Thesis (PhD Doctorate)
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
School of Film, Media and Cultural Studies
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