Edited by: Elena dell’Agnese and Antonella Rondinone | Publisher: Unicopli, 2011
It is well known that cinema is a fundamental vehicle in the construction of our geographical imaginations, in the elaboration of strong images of desired or feared places, of topophilias, of landscape stereotypes. Less analyzed is the function that entertainment cinema can play as a vehicle for ecological information, to raise awareness of environmental issues, as an educational warning for everyday practices. However, cinema is often inspired by environmental issues, emphasizes the fear of catastrophes related to this or that “natural” event, or presents potential future consequences due to the mismanagement of resources. But even when it does not put the environment in the forefront, cinema speaks of the environment,
Review (by Claudio Cerreti):
«The relationship between cinema and geography is ever closer», as the introduction (p.7) of the introduction that the curators have given to this volume, and which deserves to be widely reported. An increasingly close relationship, evidently, because geographers are more and more frequently examining the cinematographic language as if it were “one of the different possible ways of representing the ‘geo'” (ibidem). And therefore not because, as one might even think, cinema itself has approached “geographical” discourse (in a disciplinary sense) or because the nature of cinema has changed. So much so that the writer – and that from a dozen years systematically uses the cinematographic discourse as a means of “solicitation” of the sensitivity of its students in Geography – it happens to make indifferent appeal to cinematographic works of various genres, of very different ages, of disparate origins and in any case and always strictly non-documentary.
(It is better that I confess it now: documentaries – all the more so if “geographical” – bore me a lot, and, moreover, I do not trust it at all.) Not irrelevant notation, preparing to comment on a book that puts together the cinema with the environment and the territory, and that it is worth warning for the reader). documentaries – all the more so if “geographical” – bore me a lot; and, moreover, I do not trust it at all. Not irrelevant notation, preparing to comment on a book that brings together the cinema with the environment and the territory, and that is worth noting for those who read). documentaries – all the more so if “geographical” – bore me a lot; and, moreover, I do not trust it at all. Not irrelevant notation, preparing to comment on a book that brings together the cinema with the environment and the territory, and that is worth noting for those who read). What has happened is above all that we geographers have for some time realized that there is also cinema, that cinema produces speeches that always expose a spatial / geographical dimension, that these discourses have a performative charge that is very difficult to evaluate, but certainly very lively, and that it is therefore appropriate to take them into account – if only for educational purposes (in fact, just the previous production of Elena dell’Agnese shows that the filmic speech can give much more than speculation didascalici) – if geographers are interested in identifying “discourses on the world” that bring us closer to understanding it. Now, perhaps this is not the place to discuss the meaning of the representation of the geographical space (or the environment or the territory) as it emerges from any film; and therefore, upstream, of the interpretative modalities to be mobilized to grasp that meaning. But we find that, more or less underground, those who deal with cinema and geography almost always end up crediting the filmic representations (of environments and territories) of some quota of “truth”, to be compared with other quotas of “truths” derived from other discourses and other representations referable to the same environments and territories. Procedure that does not convince. The basic problem, it seems to me, is that every representation is just as “true” as “false”, and the question can not be (it is useless) to discuss the share of “truth” embodied in any representation, either in itself or in relation to another: the exercise, although interesting, is likely to leave with a handful of flies in but no. The substantial problem seems to me to be rather the idea – which as such is “true” simply because it “is” – elaborated, on the basis of that representation, by the subject who has been its spectator / receptor. It is remarkable and also amusing to note that the Monument Valley is not located in Texas but in Utah, even if the Wild Paths states that it is right in Texas; more important, however, is perhaps that the unconscious spectator (and we are all unconscious spectators, at some level) is “getting an idea” of Texas on that basis, and inversely the “capacity [of cinema] to produce geographical imaginations” (Dell’Agnese, p.17). (From here and from a series of considerations that can not be remembered now, the resistance to considering the cinematographic representation as truly “useful”, even as an educational example).
The risk we run, in essence, talking about cinema and “geographical imaginations”, is not to talk about cinema, film language, filmic discourse in relation to the construction of some “geography”, but to deal with ” speech »in itself – as, indeed, a form of representation that also conveys environmental clichés, geopolitical visions, gender roles, consumption patterns, socio-political discourse and so on. At this point, the difference between cinematographic narration and literary narration, for example, is reduced to a difference in degree and form, where the narration through images is generally much more incident (because less mediated) than the verbal narrative. Very important aspect, on which, however, much has already been reflected in a distant past (we think only of the analysis of the publicity of half a century ago and beyond), but that does not capture some of the constituent elements of the filmic discourse with respect to the literary discourse. For one thing: assembly. The montage “consumes” time – serves exactly this, to make the narration more compact. But in the same way, and necessarily, “consumes”, “eats” also the space in which the story narrated takes place. As a consequence, he constructs a reduced, synthetic, condensed geography, flicking the spatial relations while shortening the chronological relationships, he places “in contact” spaces that are not and can not be, he dissects the points of view, he orders the narration of the “environment” »- whatever it is, also the interior of a room – according to a logic that takes into account the purposes of the narrative itself, and not the ends of a possible “geography”: a narrative that often aims to generate “wonder” (like poetry), but not “consistency” nor continuity. The viewer gets a geography, of course; and may even believe it “true”; but should not a critical discourse on cinematographic geography start from the use of space as such as filmic discourse (the multiple filmic discourses)? It is here, and in other “technical” aspects (the use of certain objectives, and above all of different objectives within the same film, to name another) of the making of a film, which is the difference of substance: otherwise, as too often happens, the reviewer has superimposed his own doubts and reasoning on those that the volume exposes. Providing perhaps, moreover, an idea of critical detachment from the path followed by the volume. Tragically, this is not the case: the volume, in its variety of approaches, in dealing with different genres and themes, in proposing a number of suggestions of readings and links, in deepening many of the possible “responsibilities” of the cinema and television (just one example: “induced” tourism, of which the essays by Rondinone and Bagnoli deal with), confirms however the great interest of this type of study and opens up a very wide variety of ideas, thanks also to the accurate bibliographic information that accompanies the individual interventions. It is perhaps in the essays that concern themselves with the catastrophist vein (Malatesta and Rondinone, dell’Agnese) and what could be, much simplifying, to define “fantasy” (Malatesta, Martegani, Picone and Rondinone, Schmidt of Friedberg, Picone), that the enlightening “income” and the clearer explanatory connections are multiplied. But the whole collection is certainly an excellent point of reference for a certain reason about the relationship between moving images and geographical “ideas”.