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Emotion and cognition in the films of Bernardo Bertolucci

Serra, S


S Serra


WH Hope


Bernardo Bertolucci continues to be regarded as one of the most talented Italian filmmakers,
and although his work has provoked controversy, his films have allowed him to enjoy an
international reputation as a cinematic auteur. Critical assessments of his cinematic oenvre
have tended to centre on two main perspectives: political readings of the content and style of
his films which characterizes much Italian scholarship and the psychoanalytical
interpretations of his work that have emerged from American academia since the 1970s. The
present study proposes a different approach to Bertolucci's films, partly in terms of its scope
- analysing each of the director's full-length fiction releases up to / sognatorilThe Dreamers
(2003) - and partly in terms of its theoretical viewpoint, which is based on affective and
cognitive theory, a transnational branch of film studies that has become influential since the
mid-1990s. The project focuses on identifiable uses of the camera, music, mise-en-scene and
narrative structure in his films, tracing common denominators and evolutions in his work
since the early 1960s, and contexrualizing these filmic mechanisms within affective and
cognitive theory. In particular this study outlines the way in which the earlier phase of
Bertolucci's film-making is not bereft of emotional tonalities, whereas his later work, which
is increasingly tailored to a viewing public wanting to be captivated by the filmic spectacle,
still preserves certain aesthetic and intellectual elements of art cinema. These are identified in
the presence of complex narrations demanding an active cognitive involvement on the part of
viewers, and in films with emotion structures which, rather than being predicated on close
viewer identification with characters, privilege the creation of moods ranging from
melancholy to estrangement.


Serra, S. Emotion and cognition in the films of Bernardo Bertolucci. (Thesis). Salford : University of Salford

Thesis Type Thesis
Deposit Date Oct 3, 2012
Award Date Jan 1, 2011

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