This collection is based on the papers given at a conference at the University of Nottingham in September 2005. The conference was intended to explore Rome as a site for the making of films, and also its changing role as a setting for cinematic narrative. The resulting collection of essays will contribute to the burgeoning genre of studies on cinema and the city, by focusing on one particularly rich case study both for the nature of the films discussed, and the complexities of the city and its representation. The volume will also reach beyond film studies in so far as the subject draws on and informs other approaches to Rome’s cultural history (geography, art history, urban history, classics).
The essays address topics ranging from the interwar period to the present. A diverse set of cinematic interactions and interventions are placed within the context of the evolving architectural, social and political fabric of Rome in a period of rapid and often traumatic historical change. Implicit in the conception of the conference was the idea that cinematic representations of the city inherit and rework established habits of visualisation used to produce images of the Eternal city. Three other tropes which constitute key elements in Rome’s international reputation can be seen as being embedded in cinematic narratives. Firstly, the trope of transformation – artisic, psychological, spiritual; secondly, the city’s reputation as a cosmopolitan crossroad. Thirdly, Rome’s status as a locus classicus for the juxtaposition of the ancient and the modern, which was given a new relevance and complexity in films which sought to focus on aspects of contemporary life, be it in the Fascist era, or the extreme contrasts of poverty and international bohemianism of the postwar era.