Italian Ecocinema Beyond the Human

Italian Ecocinema Beyond the Human

Elena Past
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 01/09/2019
Format: Paperback 19 b&w illus.
ISBN: 978-0-253-03948-4
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Entangled in the hybrid fields of ecomedia studies and material ecocriticism, Elena Past examines five Italian films shot on location and ponders the complex relationships that the production crews developed with the filming locations and the nonhuman cast members. She uses these films—Red Desert (1964), The Winds Blows Round (2005), Gomorrah (2008), Le quattro volte (2010), and Return to the Aeolian Islands (2010)—as case studies to explore pressing environmental questions such as cinema's dependence on hydrocarbons, the toxic waste crisis in the region of Campania, and our reliance on the nonhuman world. Dynamic and unexpected actors emerge as the subjects of each chapter: playful goats, erupting volcanoes, airborne dust particles, fluid petroleum, and even the sound of silence. Based on interviews with crew members and close readings of the films themselves, Italian Ecocinema Beyond the Human theorizes how filmmaking practice—from sound recording to location scouting to managing a production—helps uncover cinema's ecological footprint and its potential to open new perspectives on the nonhuman world.

Author Bio

Elena Past is Associate Professor of Italian in the Department of Classical and Modern Languages, Literatures, and Cultures at Wayne State University. She is author of Methods of Murder: Beccarian Introspection and Lombrosian Vivisection in Italian Crime Fiction, editor (with Deborah Amberson) of Thinking Italian Animals: Human and Posthuman in Modern Italian Literature and Film, and editor (with Serenella Iovino and Enrico Cesaretti) of Italy and the Environmental Humanities: Landscapes, Natures, Ecologies.



[Past] uniquely and innovatively combines film studies and material ecocriticism with a focus on Italy. Such weaving of tales brings the films to life and reads them as ecological documents and Italian stories.


Heather I. Sullivan, author of The Intercontextuality of Self and Nature in Ludwig Tieck's Early Works


A timely and incisive study that interrogates a new, though growing, trend in film criticism and makes an important and rich contribution to Italian film studies, Italian cultural studies, and ecocriticism.


Bernadette Luciano, author (with Susanna Scarparo) of Reframing Italy: New Trends in Italian Women's Filmmaking

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Table of Contents


Note on Translation

On Location: Italian Ecocinema

1. Hydrocarbons, Moving Pictures, Time: Red Desert

2. Location, Dirty Cinema, Toxic Waste, Storytelling: Gomorrah

3. Posthuman Collaboration, Cohabitation, Sacrifice: The Wind Blows Round

4. Silence, Cinema, More-than-Human Sound: Le quattro volte

5. Volcanoes, Transgenerational Memory, Cinema: Return to the Aeolian Islands