ApproximationDocumentary, History and Staging Reality

Equivalent Events

Why re-open events from the past if not to find relevance and equivalence?

Looking back at Italian history

An essential impulse encapsulated by approximation is looking back - a direct acknowledgement that the past informs the present and vice versa. An example of looking back recently is provided by the spate of recent Italian films that have chosen to revisit the country’s political past: the ‘years of lead’ of the Red Brigades and the kidnapping of Aldo Moro, as well as its cinematic past, in particular the neorealist Gomorra (Matteo Garrone, 2008). Central to defining approximation is the manner in which fiction approximates original fact (for instance, the repeated use of the iconic and collectively traumatic photograph of Moro in captivity against the Red Brigade flag) to construct a drama out of shared political memory.


Buongiorno, Notte and Vincere (Marco Bellocchio, 2003, 2009), Il Divo (Paolo Sorrentino, 2008), The Baader-Meinhof Complex (Uli Edel, 2008), Stammheim (Reinhard Hauff, 1986).


Stella Bruzzi FBA

Stella Bruzzi

Stella Bruzzi is Professor of Film and Television Studies at the University of Warwick and was made a Fellow of the British Academy in 2013. She was Head of Department 2006–2008 and Chair of the Faculty of Arts at Warwick 2008–2011. She lives in Oxford with her husband and two children.


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