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Italian Locations

Reinhabiting the Past in Postwar Cinema

2008
Author:

Noa Steimatsky

Italian Locations

How postwar filmmakers redefined the Italian landscape, culture, and cinematic aesthetic

In this examination of Italian filmmakers Antonioni, Pasolini, Rossellini, and Visconti, Noa Steimatsky brilliantly maps their negotiation of Italy’s identity and posits that the cinematic forms they employ constitute an imaginary reinhabiting of Italy—one that is inextricably linked with the predicament of reconstruction. A dynamic intersection of pictorial and photographic, architectural and literary discourses inform Steimatsky’s revisionist interrogation of exemplary works from the 1940s to the mid–1960s.

Vivid and elegantly written, Italian Locations is an original and thought-provoking book.

Geoffrey Nowell-Smith, author of Making Waves: New Cinemas of the 1960s

Fascism and the Second World War left Italy indelibly changed, and cinema was arguably the art that most rigorously confronted the devastated nation. In this examination of four Italian filmmakers, Noa Steimatsky brilliantly maps their forceful negotiation of Italy’s identity and posits that the cinematic forms they employ constitute an imaginary reinhabiting of Italy—one that is inextricably linked with the political, physical, and symbolic predicament of reconstruction.

A dynamic intersection of pictorial and photographic, architectural and literary discourses inform Steimatsky’s revisionist interrogation of exemplary works from the 1940s to the mid–1960s. From the earliest documentary work of Michelangelo Antonioni on the River Po to Pier Paolo Pasolini’s re-siting of the Gospel in the arid, peripheral landscape of the Italian south, and from Roberto Rossellini’s tracing of a neorealist project in ruinous Berlin to Luchino Visconti’s wrought grandeur visited upon a humble Sicilian fishing village, Italian Locations probes the historical experience of displacement, anachronism, and a thoroughly contemporary anxiety in the cinematic arena.

For Steimatsky, Antonioni’s modernist achievement, informed by his native landscape, Rossellini’s neorealist image of Italy as a nation of ruins, Visconti’s reaching back to the nineteenth century and even more archaic pasts, and Pasolini’s ambivalence about modernity—all partake in a search for a politically and culturally redeemed Italy.

Italian Locations

Noa Steimatsky is associate professor of the history of art and film studies at Yale University.

Italian Locations

Vivid and elegantly written, Italian Locations is an original and thought-provoking book.

Geoffrey Nowell-Smith, author of Making Waves: New Cinemas of the 1960s

Noa Steimatsky brilliantly uses new materials and perspectives to illuminate the central films in Italian Locations. An outstanding book.

P. Adams Sitney, Princeton University

This is film study at its most engaging, stimulating, and informative.

Midwest Book Review

Italian Locations is insightful, deftly written, and a treasure.

Choice

Italian Locations is outstanding in all respects. It makes a brilliant plea for a sharper focus on that most forgotten aspect of film theory: space.

Leonardo Reviews

Italian Locations

Contents

INTRODUCTION Italy as Seen from the Moon

ONE Aerial: Antonioni’s Modernism
TWO Ruinous: Rossellini’s Corpse-Cities
THREE Choral: Visconti’s Dramaturgy of Nature
FOUR Archaic: Pasolini on the Face of the Earth

AFTERWORD The Ends of the Land

Acknowledgments
Notes
Publication History

Index