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Reviewed by:
  • New European Cinema: Redrawing the Map
  • Irina Stakhanova
New European Cinema: Redrawing the Map, Rosalind Galt . New York: Columbia University Press, 2006, 296 pp.

New European Cinema: Redrawing the Map can be seen as a learned and judicious analysis of the impact of the disintegration of the national frontiers and the formation of the European Union and the national cinema in Germany, Italy, and former Yugoslavia. Operating within the realms of post-structuralist and postmodernist theories of Eurocentric cultural space, the book assesses dominant "master narratives" of new European cinema and addresses the shift from etic to emic (as linguists would call it), analyzing the connection between regional, national, and European history, popular memory, and spectacle.

Galt's approach, in general, reflects the growing interest within the area of social and cultural studies in R. G. Collingwood's idea of history as a reenactment of past experience and the validity of personal memory as an accountable representation of the past. Referring to the ongoing discussion about national political and cultural identity, the author extends the views of spatial and temporal constituents of the cinematic image and visual narrative that represent popular memory into a persuasive discussion of genre, political and gendered landscape, cognitive and textual mapping, and themes of loss, nostalgia, and [End Page 63] melancholia in the modern European spectacle.

Chapter 2 provides an insightful textual analysis of landscape as an ideological subject and extends the views of landscape as la belle image with a discussion of historic authenticity and genre of heritage films and melodrama, with takes on a phenomenon of Italian melodrama of the 1990s (Cinema Paradiso [1988], Mediterraneo [1991], and Il Postino [1994]). After discussing the politics of landscape and the notion of displacement with detail and comparisons, the author moves to analyze the role of hypercathexis and "libidinal attachment"(49) while describing the use of mourning and disengagement in creating the melodramatic effect. In addition, by applying the methodology of feminist film theory to deconstruct landscape spectacle as a fetish, the author makes a persuasive argument about the necessity of addressing the binary essence of image as spectacle (visibility and pleasure) and as narrative (historicity and ideology).

What is almost inevitably more difficult, however, is connecting the postmodern notion of cognitive space and mapping to cinematic representation and drawing conclusions about cultural and subjective re-mapping and its textualization in new European cinema. By contravening the habitual focus on theories of politics of national space, the author successfully identifies the quest for the rhetoric of broader definition of post-Wall and post-Communist space and gives an eloquent description of the future films produced in Germany and former Yugoslavia.

Chapters 4 and 5 keep a proper perspective on complexity of representation relative to the general motions of cinematic discourse in Europe and attempt to define the practices of cinematic identifications within history, territory, and the notion of "belonging" by providing the comprehensive overview of cinematic discourses, which are predetermined by symbiotic processes of national identification within the different post-Wall (Germany) and post-Communist contexts (former Yugoslavia). Acknowledging that reinterpretation of the past and reinvention of postwar historic narrative became a common theme in European cinema of the 1990s, Galt convincingly suggests that whereas berlin.killer.doc (1999) and Zentropa (1991) represent the transitional character of national memory and space in relation to otherness, Underground (1999) creates the notion of the "vicious circle" (174) and the impossibility of mapping the modern national space. Furthermore, the author makes a compelling case in identifying the difference between the broken marginality of the "dematerialized and denationalized"(193) cinematic German space in transition outward and the use of the nostalgic "doubled relation" inward gaze to the past presented in Balkan cinema.

The final chapter summarizes the basic approaches to the theory of European space by incorporating Walter Benjamin's notion of aestheticization of politics and underlying the concept of constellation of discourses that "allows us to read history alongside the present" (231). The author stresses the importance of reevaluating traditions in film analysis to align them with newly emerging geopolitical realities, theories of spectacle, and practices of interpretation. She points out the necessity of expanding borders of...


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pp. 63-65
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