The Cinema of Economic Miracles

Visuality and Modernization in the Italian Art Film

The Cinema of Economic Miracles

Post-Contemporary Interventions

More about this series

Book Pages: 224 Illustrations: 33 b&w photos Published: February 2002

Author: Angelo Restivo

Cultural Studies, Media Studies > Film

The Italian art cinema of the 1960s is known worldwide for its brilliance and vitality. Yet rarely has this cinema been considered in relation to the profound economic and cultural changes that transformed Italy during the sixties--described as the “economic miracle.” Angelo Restivo argues for a completely new understanding of that cinema as a negotiation between a national aesthetic tradition of realism and a nascent postmodern image culture.
Restivo studies numerous films of the period, focusing mainly on the works of Pier Paolo Pasolini and Michelangelo Antonioni. He finds that these auteurs’ films reworked the neorealist aesthetic developed in the 1940s and 1950s, explored issues brought to the fore by the subsequent consumer boom, and presaged developments central to both critical theory and the visual arts in the 1980s and 1990s. Drawing on the theories of Lacan, Zizek, Benjamin, Foucault, Jameson, and Deleuze, he shines new light on such films as Pasolini’s Accattone and Teorema, and Antonioni’s Red Desert and Blow-Up. Restivo’s model for understanding the relationship of the 1960s Italian art film to its cultural contexts also has implications that extend to the developing national cinemas of countries such as Brazil and Taiwan.
The Cinema of Economic Miracles will interest scholars and students in all areas of film studies, especially those studying theories of the image, national cinema theory, and Italian cinema, and to those engaged in poststructuralist theory, philosophy, and comparative literature.


“Overall, the deft shifting between psychoanalytic theory, historical background, and scene analysis results in an engaging work whose implications go beyond the realm of film studies.” — Sara A. Carey , Quaderni D'Italianistica

"[C]omplex and ambitious but ultimately successful in its aims. . . ." — David Scrimgeour, M/C Reviews

"[T]his is one of the most interesting and intellectually-stimulating books on Italian cinema to have appeared in quite some time, a book which not only proves that there is more to say about Italian cinema but also furnishes some exciting new ways of exploring it further. . . . [R]ewarding and insightful. . . ." — Gino Moliterno , Screening the Past

“Theoretically sophisticated, politically astute, and historically informed, this is a brilliant work, one that will be a productive model for the future study of Italian cinema as well as the investigation of national cinema in general. There is no doubt that this is one of the best books ever written in English on Italian cinema, and by far the most theoretically advanced. Restivo’s fascinating exploration of questions of subjectivity, space, and nation will be of great interest to scholars in fields beyond Italian cinema as well.” — Peter Brunette, author of Roberto Rossellini

“This book is far above the usual histories of national cinema. It combines political analysis, psychoanalytic reading, and close cinematic explication with Restivo’s breathtaking first-hand knowledge of Italian socio-political history, enabling him to locate each author in a specific context and to discern connotations that are out of reach for most Anglo-Saxon cinema historians.” — Slavoj Zizek, author of Gaze and Voice as Love Objects


Availability: In stock
Price: $25.95

Open Access

Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Angelo Restivo is Assistant Professor of English at East Carolina University.

Table of Contents Back to Top

Part I: Neorealism and Nation

1. Writing the National Cinema

2. Neorealism and the Stain

Part II: The Nation, The Body, and Pasolini

3. Tropes of Modernization: The Bandit and the Road

4. Spatial Transformations: Mapping the New Italy

5. Pasolini and the Limits of Resistance

Part III: Antonioni and the Postmodern Sublime

6. The Object Antonioni

7. The Sublime and the Disaster

Part IV: Boundaries

8. The Erotics of the Periphery



Sales/Territorial Rights: World

Rights and licensing
Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-2799-8 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-2787-5
Publicity material