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Reenactment in Cinema

ENGL 569.402
instructor(s):

Re-enactment, a common strategy for reconstructing past events in cinema, has, in the last four decades gained a new critical currency as a way to articulate history and the embodied self. We will consider the ritual, psychological and evidentiary connotations of reenactment in cinema and in related practices (commemorative pageants, mass theatrical spectacles, battle reenactments; psychoanalysis and tribunals) as well as its currency in contemporary art. The course explores the impetus for self-revision in cinema’s appropriations of pedagogic, clinical and legal models (such as talking cures, psychodrama, public testimony and truth and reconciliation commissions) to deal with the past and we ask when and how it matters that the person herself act her story; the part reenactment plays in memorial and testimonial practices; what is the interface between theatrical and therapeutic repetition and how verbal recall differs from mimetic replay. We discuss a number of classic and contemporary reenactment  films, It’s All True (Welles); Attempted suicides (Antonioni); Chronicle of a Summer,(Morin and Rouch); Shoah (Lanzmann); Close up (Kiarostami), S21 the Khmer Rouge Killing Machine (Rithy Panh) and Andrea Tonnaci’s Serras da Desordem (Hills of Chaos, 2007) featuring the original protagonists on camera. We also discuss the role of reenactment in social documentaries, historical and biographical films.