Rosetta’s Moral Body: Modernist Lessons from the Dardennes
Modernist art explores the material and formal properties of the various art mediums. Many educators today regard it as a matter of merely historical interest or as a lesson in the shortcomings of high, elitist culture. I suggest, to the contrary, that such art can help us respond constructively to the current rule of neoliberal culture. My paper focuses on the modernist films of Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne, with close attention to Rosetta. Unlike most mainstream cinema, which naturalizes and ideologically reinforces our dominant social order, their work departs from key conventions of the medium in order to dramatize a critical engagement with this order. In particular, they develop a new way of filming their actors’ bodies that examines how we recognize and overcome socially condoned violence. This work invites us and our students to appreciate how attention to the cinematic medium may teach us about our social predicament.
KeywordsPolitical Perspective Moral Instinct Effect Sacrifice Modernist Revision Mainstream Movie
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