Cinematic Uses of the Past was first published in 1996. Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make long-unavailable books once again accessible, and are published unaltered from the original University of Minnesota Press editions.
From the first, cinema has sustained a romance with the past. The nature of this attachment, and what it reveals about our culture, is the subject of Marcia Landy's book. Cinematic Uses of the Past looks at British, American, Italian, and African films for what they can tell us about popular history and our cultural investment in certain images of the past.
Landy peruses six different moments in the history of cinema, employing the theories of Nietzsche and Gramsci. Her reading of these films explores their investments in history and memory in relation to ideas of nation, sexuality, gender, and race. Among the films she discusses are A Fistful of Dynamite, The Scarlet Empress, Dance with a Stranger, Holocaust, Schindler's List, Le camp de Thiaroye, Guelwaar, The Leopard, and Veronika Voss.
A thoroughly compelling reading of these emblematic films, Cinematic Uses of the Past is also a revealing interpretation of popular history, exposing the fragmentary, tentative, and invested nature of cultural memory.
Marcia Landy is professor of literature and film studies at the University of Pittsburgh. She is the author of several books, including Film, Politics, and Gramsci (Minnesota, 1995).