New European Cinema offers a compelling response to the changing cultural shapes of Europe, charting political, aesthetic, and historical developments through innovative readings of some of the most popular and influential European films of the 1990s. Made around the time of the revolutions of 1989 but set in post-World War II Europe, these films grapple with the reunification of Germany, the disintegration of the Balkans, and a growing sense of historical loss and disenchantment felt across the continent. They represent a period in which national borders became blurred and the events of the mid-twentieth-century began to be reinterpreted from a multinational European perspective.
Featuring in-depth case studies of films from Italy, Germany, eastern Europe, and Scandinavia, Rosalind Galt reassesses the role that nostalgia, melodrama, and spectacle play in staging history. She analyzes Giuseppe Tornatore's Cinema Paradiso, Michael Radford's Il Postino, Gabriele Salvatores's Mediterraneo, Emir Kusturica's Underground, and Lars von Trier's Zentropa, and contrasts them with films of the immediate postwar era, including the neorealist films of Roberto Rossellini and Vittorio De Sica, socialist realist cinema in Yugoslavia, Billy Wilder's A Foreign Affair, and Carol Reed's The Third Man. Going beyond the conventional focus on national cinemas and heritage, Galt's transnational approach provides an account of how post-Berlin Wall European cinema inventively rethought the identities, ideologies, image, and popular memory of the continent. By connecting these films to political and philosophical debates on the future of Europe, as well as to contemporary critical and cultural theories, Galt redraws the map of European cinema.
About the Author
Rosalind Galt is assistant professor of film studies at the University of Iowa. Her essays have appeared in journals such as Screen and Cinema Journal.
Table of Contents
1. Mapping European Cinema in the 1990s
2. The Dialectic of Landscape in Italian Popular Melodrama
3. A Conspiracy of Cartographers?
4. Yugoslavia's Impossible Spaces
5. Back-Projecting Germany
6. Toward a Theory of European Space
What People are Saying About This
Exploring the dialectics of place, space, and memory in recent European cinema, Rosalind Galt keeps a commendably tight focus on the conjunction of history and spectacle, without privileging either one at the expense of the other, as so often happens when films dealing with Europe's troubled past are disqualified as nostalgic retro-chic or celebrated as part of the heritage genre. In her robust, sensitive, and sophisticated defense of films such as Europa, Cinema Paradiso, Underground and The English Patient, Galt deconstructs the very terms of these debates and imparts new purpose to our understanding of the cinema's role in the cultural identity formations of post-WWll Europe. To my knowledge, there has not been a book that succeeds so well in joining the philosophical discourses around the current state of Europe with an in-depth reading of its cinema.
Happily, after a period of neglect, European cinema has been brought back to our attention. Rosalind Galt's intricate book, with its confident range and brave argument, reminds us that Europe regularly produces complex, resonant, and consequential films which in turn have inspired profound writing. The half-dozen films she pores over and the dozens she adroitly references refuse to be written off as filling a national need or a box office niche in the world market. Galt puts these probing continental films in dialogue with theory and finds that they hold their own. Historical spectacle is neither superfluous nor distracting. Turning the tables on much cultural theory, controversial works like Underground and Zentropa speak back to political and aesthetic clichés in the language of spectacle. Galt listens (and looks) attentively and makes us do so as well.