Roma De Profundis: Post-Economic Miracle Rome and the Films of Dario Argento (1970-1982)


This dissertation examines three films by the Italian horror-thriller director Dario Argento set in Rome during the period of social and historical transformation following 1968 -- L'uccello dalle piume di cristallo (1970), Profondo rosso (1975), and Tenebre (1982). Using close formal analysis and extensive urban historical research, I argue that these films represent a critical engagement with the transforming urban geography of post-economic miracle Rome. As Italian capitalism began to consolidate after the war, Rome was subject to a series of state- and corporate-planned urban interventions that attempted to establish it as an administrative center for global capital and nucleus of consumption. Simultaneously, a series of transformations took place in the structure of Italian media that paved the way for the emergence of American-style media saturation. Using the language of popular filmmaking (and targeting an emergent suburban and home-based audience via terza visione cinemas and television), these three films track the emergence and social consequences of these new urban forms and media geographies. In this way, these films parallel the social critiques of the post-1968 era. After an introduction that outlines some of the major transformations that Rome underwent during the economic miracle, each of the three body chapters incorporates a materialist and concrete engagement with cinematic mise-en-scène, Roman urban space, and location filmmaking along with larger theoretical questions around representation, subjectivity, and the socio-spatial. Chapter one argues that The Bird With the Crystal Plumage (1970) figures the changing role of governmental power and state authority in everyday Italian life after 1968 as questions of cinematic and urban space. Chapter two discusses the ways in which Deep Red (1975) uses the trope of the uncanny and "creative geography" to raise questions about modern and postmodern Italian domestic life. Finally, chapter three examines the ways in which Tenebre (1982) represents Rome more as a virtual and immanent mobile network than a traditional city. Each of these readings suggests a way in which the category of the urban can be used to unite close textual reading with historical analysis.
Thesis (Ph.D. -- Brown University (2010)

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Siegel, Michael Loren, "Roma De Profundis: Post-Economic Miracle Rome and the Films of Dario Argento (1970-1982)" (2010). Modern Culture and Media Theses and Dissertations. Brown Digital Repository. Brown University Library.