The Sound and the Flurry of 1970s French and Italian Cinema

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2023

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Abstract

Filmmakers shared in the social and political struggles that took place globally around the year 1968, by registering the movements and forging new approaches to filmmaking. Focusing on the cases of France and Italy, this dissertation explores how different sonic strategies were deployed at the time in the staging of the emerging voices—feminist struggle, workers’ fight—and to counter dominant discourses, particularly those broadcast on official media. Political films in the seventies often relied on the promise of Eisensteinian montage to awaken spectators’ consciousness. Yet, those years were also marked by a distrust and a critique of the visual: Laura Mulvey definition of the “male gaze” or Guy Debord critique of the “society of spectacle” amongst others challenged the frameworks of representation. I argue that some directors turned to the soundtrack of their films to stake a position within the political debates of the time. For Deleuze, this moment coincided with the advent of cinema into a true audio-visual media: sound emancipated itself from images. I suggest that this new autonomy closely tracks the emancipation of the repressed voices from institutions’ discursive codings. Interlacing film and sound studies with history, “The Sound and the Flurry of 1970s French and Italian Cinema” focuses on works by Chantal Akerman, Claude Faraldo, Marco Ferreri, Elio Petri, and Ettore Scola in their contexts. Analyses of this corpus mobilize the concepts of asynchrony and polyphony as investigative tools into both the relationships between sounds themselves and the relationship between sound and image. The use of asynchrony—as theorized by Pudovkin—allows for a representation of the social conflicts as collective experience while still rendering the individual struggle. The polyphonic dimension of soundtracks enabled directors to stage the conflicts and challenges carried by these emerging voices. The simultaneous diffusion of multiple and dissonant sounds allowed movies at once to grasp and partake in 1970s political, aesthetic and social tensions.

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Chanod, Camille (2023). The Sound and the Flurry of 1970s French and Italian Cinema. Dissertation, Duke University. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/27714.

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