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The zero, the centre and the empty utopia: from Rossellini to Walter Salles

Nagib, L. (2006) The zero, the centre and the empty utopia: from Rossellini to Walter Salles. Studies in European Cinema, 3 (3). pp. 223-233. ISSN 2040-0594

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1386/seci.3.3.223_1

Abstract/Summary

This article examines utopian gestures and inaugural desires in two films which became symbolic of the Brazilian Film Revival in the late 1990s: Central Station (1998) and Midnight (1999). Both evolve around the idea of an overcrowded or empty centre in a country trapped between past and future, in which the motif of the zero stands for both the announcement and the negation of utopia. The analysis draws parallels between them and new wave films which also elaborate on the idea of the zero, with examples picked from Italian neo-realism, the Brazilian Cinema Novo and the New German Cinema. In Central Station, the ‘point zero’, or the core of the homeland, is retrieved in the archaic backlands, where political issues are resolved in the private sphere and the social drama turns into family melodrama. Midnight, in its turn, recycles Glauber Rocha’s utopian prophecies in the new millennium’s hour zero, when the earthly paradise represented by the sea is re-encountered by the middle-class character, but not by the poor migrant. In both cases, public injustice is compensated by the heroes’ personal achievements, but those do not refer to the real nation, its history or society. Their utopian breadth, based on nostalgia, citation and genre techniques, is of a virtual kind, attune to cinema only.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Arts and Communication Design > Film, Theatre & Television
ID Code:32090
Uncontrolled Keywords:Walter Salles Central Station Brazilian Cinema Utopia
Publisher:Intellect

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