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The New European Cinema

The New European Cinema: Redrawing the Map

Rosalind Galt
Copyright Date: 2006
Pages: 312
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  • Book Info
    The New European Cinema
    Book Description:

    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.

    eISBN: 978-0-231-51032-5
    Subjects: Film Studies, History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. 1. Mapping European Cinema in the 1990s
    (pp. 1-25)

    In the early 1990s, Europe became, as if it had not been so before, a question of space. The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, the breakup of the Soviet Union, the break-down of Yugoslavia, and the unification of Germany produced radical upheavals in every aspect of European life, but most urgently, they made a collective demand on an idea of Europe as a psychic, cultural, or geopolitical location. For the first time since the end of World War II, the borders of Europe were disconcertingly unstable. Through the 1990s, this traumatic overturning of spatial categories was augmented with...

  5. 2. The Dialectic of Landscape in Italian Popular Melodrama
    (pp. 26-87)

    In his book on landscape painting, Political Landscape, Martin Warnke briefly discusses the derivation of his title, a term that he assumed had a long history.¹ Instead, he discovered that the phrase was coined only in 1849, and then in relation to a landscape painting that quite literally described a political, rather than a pastoral, landscape. Its first use as a description of the terrain of a national politics was by Joseph Goebbels, who criticized a film for not being fascist enough for the German political landscape. This discovery alarms Warnke, and he rapidly returns to the painting, using this...

  6. 3. A Conspiracy of Cartographers?
    (pp. 88-122)

    For Tom Stoppard’s paranoid Rosencrantz (Rosencrantz and Guilderstern Are Dead [Stoppard, 1990]), space is purely a matter of representation and, in true postmodern style, he has lost faith in the authority of the map:

    Guildenstern: What a shambles! We’re just not getting anywhere.

    Rosencrantz: Not even England. I don’t believe in it anyway.

    Guildenstern: What?

    Rosencrantz: England.

    Guildenstern: Just a conspiracy of cartographers, you mean?

    As the cannier Guildenstern’s sarcastic comment implies, however, we cannot read cartography simply as conspiracy. The existence of England, after all, is not in doubt. What is at stake is the production of cartographic authority:...

  7. 4. Yugoslavia’s Impossible Spaces
    (pp. 123-174)

    If the historical film inherently consists of a work of mourning, producing a representation of that which no longer exists, then Emir Kusturica’s Underground troubles this structure from the beginning. The film opens in medias res, with the Nazi bombing of Belgrade in 1941. Communists Marko and Blacky are wanted for subversive activities, and they escape with their families to the cellar of a relative’s house. While the relatives stay underground, Marko and Blacky continue to fight the Germans. When the courageous Blacky is injured, Marko sends him back to the cellar, steals his girlfriend, and manages to convince all...

  8. 5. Back-Projecting Germany
    (pp. 175-229)

    “I’m obsessed with Germany. For Denmark, it’s a very big neighbor. Germany is a symbol. It is Europe.”¹ With this formulation, or perhaps we should call it a confession, director Lars von Trier describes his film Zentropa in terms of an individual and a perceived national relationship to the spaces of Denmark, Germany, and Europe. What is striking about this avowedly personal commentary is how unself-consciously it lays bare the tensions involved in the “European film.” That there are national positions to be taken up can be seen from the response of the French critic who quotes this interview: he...

  9. 6. Toward a Theory of European Space
    (pp. 230-240)

    The post-Wall moment in European history is transitory: as the events of 1989 grow more distant, politics and culture develop in new directions. However, the historical films that emerged at this time not only are significant as reflections of European identity in a particular place and time, but also bring into focus what Walter Benjamin calls a constellation—a pattern of historical, aesthetic, and critical discourses—that enables us to read history alongside the present. The particular constellation illuminated by post-Wall history films not only allows us to see European postwar histories otherwise, but, just as important, provokes new readings...

  10. Notes
    (pp. 241-266)
  11. Bibliography
    (pp. 267-278)
  12. Filmography
    (pp. 279-284)
  13. Index
    (pp. 285-296)