The Shining. Roger Luckhurst. Peter Kramer.
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Author: Giacomo Boitani. Date: Sept. From: Italica Vol. Publisher: American Association of Teachers of Italian.
Document Type: Book review. I have written above that he is concerned to establish a complicity with his reader; this is often done through an appeal to received aesthetic criteria, expressed in a series of critical judgments across the book.
Realism is good, while melodrama is bad. Entertainment as such in the form of action spectacle and even comedy is likewise suspect.
These aesthetic preferences are assumed to be shared by the reader. Sensible people, the tone implies, will feel thus about these films, and will do so on behalf of History.
Writing instead, as I do, from a film studies perspective, it seems to me that--if we insist on the agon--there is an argument to be made for this body of films against the historian-critic. One might begin by challenging the aesthetic criteria employed in the analysis.
The objection might be made that if the italiani brava gente myth is indeed such a constant across a corpus of films then it becomes a foregone conclusion for a viewer, and so taken for granted in the viewing of an individual film. It is the vehicle of the message, so to speak, but too banal to be the message itself. These components become the means by which a film and its viewers access aspects of the past and discern their significance for the present. When the italiani brava gente myth is deployed in Novecento , , say, the political argument of the film is enabled by reference to the myth: if the peasantry are the brava gente in Novecento , then this is part of the rhetoric of the film, the persuasive means by which the director asserts the working classes to be the motor of history.
To put it another way, the italiani brava gente myth is the means by which interpretations of the past come to be communicated and known; it is not the interpretation itself. The conviction and persuasiveness of his argument leaves one wondering how Lichtner himself has escaped seduction by the all-pervasive brava gente myth.