All’inizio degli anni Novanta la spinta teorica e l’afflato politico della riflessione femminista sul cinema sembrano essersi esauriti.
La sensazione di una presa sempre più debole sulla realtà sociale e la consapevolezza dei limiti delle teorie prodotte sul cinema (e sull’identità femminile) decretano la fine di una stagione caratterizzata, soprattutto al di fuori dei confini nazionali, da una sinergia strettissima fra l’elaborazione del pensiero delle donne e l’attività critica e speculativa sul cinema.
In questo panorama, privo di punti di riferimento condivisi e stabili, abbiamo chiesto alle autrici e all’autore di ‘mettersi in gioco’ e di ‘partire da sé’, seguendo in qualche modo le parole e le pratiche politiche reinventate dalle donne ed eleggendole a criterio di ricerca e di indagine. Da qui l’invito a guardare nei loro specifici ambiti di studio, interrogandosi sulle posizioni, sui ruoli delle figure femminili, sulle icone ricorrenti o contraddittorie. Gettati in terreni diversi – dalla ricerca storica alle indagini culturali – i semi di questo lavoro fanno germinare una ricca messe di contributi. Saggi e ricerche che entrano in un dialogo intenso e proficuo con il dibattito sul cinema e sui media, e che si caratterizzano per il venir meno di una prospettiva unica, sia politica sia teorica, e per la moltiplicazione degli sguardi, delle metodologie e delle questioni.
The essay traces the most recent developments in Feminist Film Theory from the new psychoanalytic
approaches (such as Trauma Studies) to the historical work on Early Cinema and, finally, the convergence
between gender and globalization studies. The essay offers an extremely articulated picture and provides a
key for a heuristic interpretation of the main cultural and social processes affecting the contemporary world.
Despite the accusation of abstraction and of lacking of an historical base, the Feminist Film Studies have considerably
contributed to the historical research, underlining the cultural value of performance and of the act
of watching. The analysis and comparison of two texts belonging to the cinema of the origins make explicit
the function of cinema as an instrument for the definition of gender identity. It also stimulates a reflection on
the values associated with women at the beginnings of the last Century. In particular the essay detects a strategy
of representation of women enhancing their creativity and freedom versus the one of men, alienated and
subject to production logics.
The essay describes the interlacement between the feminist movement and practices and the film theory in
Italy.It is not a chronological path, but the tale of a trip, which begins from the corporeal being, the memory
of the body, and reaches to the concept of Mother, as fundamental space of the thought of difference. A space
– as Deleuze says – of ‘intensive emotions’, which opens new approaches for the film analysis and new positions
for male and female spectators.
SPECCHI: LA RAPPRESENTAZIONE DELLA DONNA NEL CINEMA ITALIANO
The bond which has been tied between cinema and visual arts in the first decades of the last century finds its
paradigmatic expression in the ways of representing women. The comparison between the woman-owl interpreted
by Pina Menichelli and Marchesa Casati’s pictures immortalized by Boldini’s brush highlight the
strong and lively exchange among expressive forms and give back an idea of unconventional and eccentric
femininity. This model meets the need of the cinema to accredit itself as a new form of art (highlighting the
closeness with painting and literature, evidence of that complex system of referrals among ‘media’ which will
consolidate in the following decades), more than the intention of conveying a different, more modern concept
The essay investigates the representation of femininity in the films about family. The analysis develops
between the reconstruction of the figure of woman in promotional texts aimed at promoting the recovered use
of domestic technologies in the first decades of the century. It also examines the presence/absence of the
mother’s figure in films about family. It shows a framework full of implications, and in which what appears
(and what does not appear) reveals a different and unexpected sense and meaning. In particular the woman,
despite not being the architect nor the protagonist of the shooting, confirms herself as Deus Ex Machina of
the filmed memories of the family.
Starting from the analysis of Gaby’s character in La signora di tutti (Ophuls, 1943), the essay identifies the
origin of female characters populating the comedy of regime. Despite their diversity, these models are the
product of the different narrative frames in which they are set behind a common process of mediation between
Modernity and Tradition. This mediation gently leads the woman within the perimeter of her family, offsetting
the renunciation to an independent life with the conquest of true love.
It is easy to envisage a correlation between Zampa’s film, L’onorevole Angelina, and the inclusion (at least
formal) of women in the Country’s political life in the Second postwar period. Yet in addition to reflecting a
social transformation (supported by the declared realism of the film), the work responds to a purely cinematographic
logic. Angelina’s character perfectly adheres to the figure of Mrs. Magnani, emphasizing her
best known features and underlining the point of her star like parable. Perhaps more than representing the
reflection of a new prototype of woman, both Angelina, and Mrs. Magnani work as models of aspiration in a
reality in which freedom and equality of rights are still far from being reached.
The essay seeks in the Domestic film production of the 1950s, the tracks of the debate about the presentation
and approval of the Italian law Merlin. With a sensitivity heightened by the Neorealistic season, the Italian
cinema denounces the most critical aspects preventing the process of rehabilitation and reintegration of prostitutes,
exposing them to public judgment and sentencing them to live on the fringe of society.
The reconstruction of the screenplay evolution of Mario Soldati’ La donna del fiume offers a classic example
of the process of mediation between authorial, productive and cultural instances from which the film script
originates. In particular, the analysis shows the results of the censorial pressure concerning the staging of
women on his film and, more generally, on the definition of a new model of female star. Even when apparently
exercised on other elements of the film, the interventions reveal a containment of the female character,
granting a larger diegetic space while respecting the visual (and cultural) standard of representation of
Following the ‘popular’ thread, the essay investigates the complex relationship between female identity and cultural
and media consumption. The analysis of the episode films made in the 1960s shows the fundamental importance
of the mediatic diet in the definition of the image and role of women. It also reveals their deep ambiguity: a
sign of modernization, epitome of the ‘new times’, but also a ballast, which binds women to the traditional models
(familiar and social), describing the leave of the norm as ‘deviation’. The broad repertoire of the examined films
also allows a first breakthrough in a fundamental genre of the national film productions in the Second Postwar.
The analysis of the fantastic and horror production of the 1960s offers a surprising evidence: taking the distances
from the standards of gender, the autochthonous production differs from other for the presence of
female protagonists, together active and seductive. Not only victims, nor masculinized heroines, but women
acting as deus ex machina, without renouncing to their typically feminine features. The female characters
show however an ambivalence: they are heroines, but also monsters. They leave open questions on the role
of genre in the emancipation process of women.
The symbolic overabundance of the female character finds its emblematic confirmation in the analysis of the
character of Emanuelle, the protagonist of the homonymous and successful erotic films series of the 1970s.
The series restates the gender standards, bringing on the scene an active woman, master of her own destiny,
also offering herself to the look and pleasure of men. Emanuelle ‘virtuously’ embodies the mediation between
a model of emancipated femininity and a more traditional, patriarchal one, which contemplates the submission
of women to male desire.
Faced with the task of representing women, the contemporary Italian ‘auteur’ cinema does not seem to be able
to find a third way between relying on a stereotype or recognizing the unfathomability of women, even when
there is a woman behind the camera. Through the analysis of four films, two by Emanuele Crialese and two
by Francesca Comencini, the essay suggests the persistent difficulties of cinema in dealing with women.
The analysis of some of the recent works by women video-makers highlights a specific way to use of electronic
language, marked by the proximity and empathy with the subject of their work. Their texts do not
renounce to promote the search for truth, but describe it in a form alternative to that of the greatest part of
nonfiction production. Their objective is neither to protest, nor to shock, but to comprehend, which is considered
a deeper and more genuine form of knowledge.
RIFRAZIONI MEDIALI ED ESPERIENZE: DONNE E CINEMA NELLA CULTURA DEL PAESE
The text tries to dissolve the interlacement between the system of social talks on women and the debate on
cinema. The analysis of the contributions on the seventh Art produced in the feminist circles between the
1970s and 1990s (with a quick foray in the most recent production) allows to grasp the specificity of the relationship
which consolidates in Italy between feminism and the production of and on the cinema.
The essay investigates the cultural and political function assigned to the cinema by the Movimento Italiano
Femminile, an organization of fascist origin established during the Second Postwar. This field of analysis is
normally neglected by the historical reconnaissance, which focused on relations between cinema and political
central and left-wing movements; it is also a tile to be added to the variegated mosaic of female film experience
in the years following the conflict.
From the examination of the first ten years of the magazine «Noi donne» (1944-1954), the essay marks the
role of cinema in the editorial line and policy of UDI magazine. The weekly magazine has a well crafted communicative
strategy, which from one side uses cinema and its paratexts to attract the reader-spectator and on
the other addresses the debate on the film in an ideological and markedly committed key.
The text reconstructs the Magisterium of the Church on women under the pontificate of Paul VI. Through the
detailed collection and the reading of all documents dealing with the question of women, the text illustrates
the complexity of the position of the Church with regard to the role and functions of women and gives insight
into the importance of the cultural dimension, understood as an indication of the change happening and instrument
for the achievement of a model of full and complete femininity, inspired by the Marian ideal.