The Modern Political Cinema: From Third Cinema to Contemporary Networked Biopolitics

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Political cinema, particularly third cinema of the 1960s and subsequently inspired films, often relies upon the formation and transformation of subjectivity. Such films depict a becoming-political of their characters, such as Ali LaPointe's transformation from bricklayer and boxer to revolutionary in Battle of Algiers (La battaglia di Algeri, Gillo Pontecorvo, 1966). As subjects are politicized, they reveal social, moral, existential, or ethical exigencies that drive the politics of the film. In this respect, most narrative-driven political cinema is biopolitical cinema, although its expression shifts from film to film, or from one period of time to another. Gilles Deleuze articulated such a shift in his two works on cinema, Cinema 1: The Movement-Image and Cinema 2: The Time-Image. Namely, he points to the breaking of the link between action and reaction that marks a shift from pre-World War II cinema to the postwar filmmaking environment. To update Deleuze's project on political cinema, this article posits another qualitative shift in political cinema stemming from the emergence of neoliberal economic policies and the growth of networked information systems from the 1990s to the present. This shift compromises earlier models of political cinema and results in a modern political cinema based on the fragmentation of political publics and the formation of new political exigencies. Two films set in Algeria will be used to document this shift in political modes, in a move towards the modern political cinema: Battle of Algiers and Outside the Law (Hors-la-loi, Rachid Bouchareb, 2010).

Author Name: 
Matthew Holtmeier
Holtmeier, Matthew. “The Modern Political Cinema: From Third Cinema to Contemporary Networked Biopolitics”, Film-Philosophy, Vol. 20, Iss. 2-3 (2016): 303-323.